High- vs. low-risk Halloween ideas

Published 7:01 am Thursday, October 28, 2021

It can be a balancing act trying to figure out what’s safe for your children, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and keeping them happy. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19, and they usually are the ones most eager to experience Halloween traditions like trick-or-treating.

“One of the big things that we’ve learned about how the virus is spread is that it really doesn’t spread well outdoors,” says Nipunie Rajapakse, M.D., a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. “You can keep your children safe and happy. To do so, you need to understand the risks. But with precautions, families can find ways to enjoy both safely.”

For example, Rajapakse said apple orchards are a low-risk option as our pumpkin patch visits, but the larger the crowd around you, the higher the risk.

“High-risk activities to avoid would be any indoor, crowded setting, for example, like an indoor Halloween party, especially where you have lots of young kids who are likely unvaccinated,” Rajapakse said.

Masks are a big part of Halloween, so make them fun. Keep your trick-or-treating group small and avoid indoor gatherings. Rajapakse said keeping kids safe is the priority.

“When it comes to COVID-19 prevention strategies, using a layered approach is what is most effective.”

To prepare for trick-or-treaters, homeowners should make sure it’s safe for kids to stop by:

  • Clean up. Put away tripping hazards, such as garden hoses, toys and bikes. Clear wet leaves, snow or other debris from the sidewalk.
  • Turn the lights on. Replace burned-out bulbs to ensure visibility at the walkway and front door.
  • Control your pets. Take no chances that your pet might be frightened and chase or bite a child at your door.
  • Consider sugar substitutes. Instead of handing out sweets, try stickers, fun pencils, rubber insects or colored chalk.

If you’re driving on Halloween, watch for children crossing the street. Be especially careful entering or leaving driveways and alleys. Extra caution can help ensure Halloween safety for everyone.