Scary thought: How to safely celebrate Halloween during a pandemic

A local pediatrician has some tips on how to keep your children - and yourself - safe on Halloween.

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — You can have both a safe and a scary Halloween -- say local doctors -- if you follow some simple advice this Halloween. SLU Care pediatrician Dr. Heidi Sallee at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital has some advice.

Overall safety tips:

"For kids, really the most important thing to know is wearing your mask can help -- that is probably the #1 most important thing. Also, try not to touch your face. Good hand washing and good hand sanitizing will be key things too. And minimize your contact with other people. Smaller groups for trick or treating if you really must go out. Or try to find ways just to have fun at home on Halloween. Dress up in your costume and do some fun activities at home would be the most safe way to celebrate Halloween."

Costume masks:

"Previously, we used to recommend kids not wear a mask because it limits vision -- and we recommended face painting instead. But this year we are recommending wearing masks -- but a different type of mask. What you want to cover up is the nose and the mouth. So costume plastic masks are the ones we want to avoid because they generally are going to have an open hole for breathing. So we would want to find a way to have a cloth mask or even decorate if you have one -- a surgical mask -- to go with the costume. So go with the more traditional face covering that we are using right now when we are out and about."


"I think store bought treats where they are sealed are safe. One option is just to hold the treats for 72 hours and just not touch them and that would be a way of keeping them safe. Or perhaps using a sanitizer on the unopened treats. That's another option for parents when their kids are bringing home candy."

Handing out treats:

"I think it would be nice to either have the treats -- rather than in a big grab bag, or a bowl, where everybody is putting their hand into it -- maybe display a handful of treats on a tray or something where a person can take just one treat and not touch all the rest. Maybe set up a small table on your porch with the treats on them where you can just take one as opposed to putting your hand into a communal bag or a communal bowl."


"If your child is showing any signs of illness, they should not go out. If they have a cough, a runny nose, a fever, a sore throat, stomach ache or anything, they should be kept at home so they are not spreading it to other people around them."

Group trick or treating:

"A lot of times, families will get together in bigger groups to trick or treat. This year, maybe you should just go out in your small family group at home. Just you and your kids going out without other families in your same household would be another way to minimize impact."

Haunted Houses:

"Haunted houses are mostly inside. You just don't know what the air circulation is like in there. Certainly with better circulation, you have less chance of spreading the virus. But they are inside and people will be touching things. I would really recommend avoiding haunted houses."


"Hayrides depend on how close everybody is sitting -- but you are outside. If you are wearing a mask, you are reducing the risks -- despending on what things there are to touch. And getting the children to not touch things Is sometimes hard -- but that would be the goal. So hayrides would probably be a little less risky than an indoor haunted house."


"Depending on the size of the bonfire, if your family can be six feet away from another family -- and six feet away from another family -- and you are outside and there's a breeze, then that's probably safer than other activities. I don't think there's any activity that's 100-percent safe or without risk. They're all going to carry a certain amount of risk."

For parents:

"Cover you nose and mouth with a mask if you are going out. Stay away from people. Those things really do matter. Do not be near people inside if you can at all avoid it. Try to stick with just your immediate family. It's hard to pass on traditions, but hopefully it will be for one year and next year we can go back to all the thing we're used to doing."

Bottom line:

"I think in reality the safest thing to do is to have a small party at home with just your bubble -- but there are ways to sort of be safe if you really want to do trick or treating. Maybe keeping it to a minimum in terms of the houses you visit. The more houses, the more exposed you are going to be to different things -- whether that's regular viruses or the coronavirus.  So the more we are out in the community, the more we have the chance to spread it around. I think we just need to think wisely about how we should be behaving out in the community."

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