healthy Halloween celebration

The YMCA in Ketchum hosted a socially distanced outdoor gathering this week. Follow these CDC-approved tips for a safe and healthy Halloween celebration.

As Blaine County’s COVID-19 transmission risk level remains critical, celebrating Halloween will naturally look a little different this year.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends avoiding parties, festivals, hay rides, haunted houses and trick-or-treating (at least as it usually looks).

 Instead, officials recommend seasonally appropriate, but safe alternatives. Consider pumpkin carving at home with family or outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends. Decorating the home into a private, family haunted house works, too.

The CDC recommends doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. Virtual Halloween costume contests are easy enough to put together, too. You can’t go wrong with a spooky Halloween movie night, either. Alternatively, hide candy around the house for kids to find—like a Halloween version of an Easter egg hunt.

For those who simply cannot imagine Halloween without trick-or-treating, the CDC put together several guidelines and recommendations for proceeding safely this holiday.

Carry hand sanitizer and have kids clean hands periodically between houses.

Do not use a costume mask as a substitute for a protective cloth mask unless it’s made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that cover the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.

Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. This can be dangerous, making it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Cloth masks with fun designs can easily be incorporated in costumes. Lots of places sell them, or crafty parents may be able to fashion them at home. A white mask with a bandage design completes a mummy costume. A mask with fangs on it could look good on a vampire. Something like a ninja more or less explains itself.

Don’t let kids reach into bowls or bags, touch multiple pieces of candy or trade candy with friends. Every child should carry his or her own bag.

Leave a bowl of candy at the end of your porch, steps or sidewalk. At the end of the evening, sanitize any doorknobs, doorbells or high-touch areas.

The CDC recommends letting all the candy sit for three days before handling and eating.

When out trick-or-treating, the CDC recommends sticking to small groups, preferably just family. Any gathering should follow CDC guidelines and be appropriate for the level of spread in the community.

As always, medical professionals recommend that those who feel sick or believe they may have been exposed to the virus should stay home, isolate and do not give out candy to trick-or-treaters. Other constants not unique to Halloween include washing hands thoroughly, wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance.

Of course, Halloween isn’t the only holiday this weekend. For those planning to celebrate Día de los Muertos, the CDC has recommendations for that, too.

The CDC advises against attending large festivals and celebrations, but suggests several low-risk alternatives. Consider preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve direct contact.

You can also play music in your home that your deceased loved ones enjoyed. Make and decorate masks or make an altar for the deceased. Set out pillows and blankets in your home for the deceased or join a virtual get-together celebration.

Health officials recommend that when visiting and decorating graves, families should stick to their own households and maintain six feet of distance with those from other households. If hosting a meal, do so outside and refer to the CDC’s guidelines for holding dinners.

All of these recommendations and more—including some for Thanksgiving—can be found online at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

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