Erie County Department of Health discourages indoor Halloween activities, suggests alternatives to trick-or-treating

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Halloween Pumpkin Jack O’ Lantern Candy Bucket is covered with a face mask in this file photo. (Getty Images)

(WIVB) – The Erie County Department of Health is discouraging indoor Halloween activities this year, and suggesting alternatives to trick-or-treating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you usually plan a neighborhood Halloween party, find ways to keep the activities outdoors and limit the number of people who attend to just a few,” Dr. Gale Burstein, ECDOH Commissioner of Health, said. “And if you are invited to a Halloween party with a lot of people, this is the year to decline and find an alternative.”

The ECDOH especially discourages indoor celebrations if they involve large groups of people or take place in enclosed areas like basements or closed garages.

The department is suggesting the following alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating:

  • Carve or decorate pumpkins with members of your household and put them on display
  • Carve or decorate pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorate your house, apartment, living space or vehicle
  • Coordinate 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
  • Hold a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Host a Halloween movie night with your household members
  • Have a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going door-to-door
  • Visit a local orchard or pumpkin patch (www.erie.gov/eriegrown).

Individual municipalities can issue restrictions or guidance for trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities on Oct. 31.

Here are some other tips the ECDOH is reminding people to follow to have a safe Halloween:

Costume Safety

Costumes, wigs and accessories should be:

·        Weather appropriate

·        Fire-resistant

·        Highly visible – if wearing a costume after dark, attach reflective tape to costumes or bags, or carry glow sticks or flashlights

·        Allow children to see clearly and walk easily, and not cause tripping hazards

Make a cloth mask part of the costume. Do not wear a cloth mask over a costume mask (or vice versa). It can make breathing more difficult.

If wearing costume makeup or hair dyes, test on an area of skin first to check for irritation, and wash off thoroughly before children go to sleep.

Traffic and Pedestrian Safety

·        Instruct trick-or-treaters to watch for traffic, especially vehicles entering and leaving driveways. 

·        Maintain a six-foot distance from other groups that are not part of your household.

·        Young children should be supervised by a responsible adult.

·        Review the routes of older children who go alone or in a small group of friends, and plan on a specific time for children to check in and return home.

·        Trick-or-treat in familiar, well-lit areas, and leave electronic devices at home – pay attention to walking, not text messages or emails.

·        Drivers on the road should take extra care to watch for children on roads, curbs, sidewalks and driveways. Enter and exit roads, driveways and alleys with extreme caution. Watch for trick-or-treaters in dark clothing.

·        And for new or inexperienced drivers – on Halloween night stay off the roads if you can.

Candy Safety

Households that choose to participate in trick-or-treat activities should wear a cloth face covering – not a costume mask that covers the full face. Consider having a station with individually bagged treats, and distribute those treats outdoors.

Parents and caregivers can remind children before they start trick-or-treating that they can eat their candy after parents inspect it. Parents, discard candy that is a choking hazard, food items that look homemade, or ones that contain allergens, dyes or other ingredients that your child should avoid.

Children and supervising adults should carry hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol along the trick-or-treat trail. Wash hands thoroughly when returning home and before eating any treats. And, make sure everyone in the house brushes their teeth before going to sleep.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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