By Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, 23rd Senate District
As a parent, I know how much kids love Halloween. But as a parent I also know safety is paramount, and that includes reducing COVID-19 risk. Some simple safety precautions can help ensure everyone’s evening is safe.
Pumpkin carving is an adult activity. Let the kids decorate their own pumpkins with felt pens, glitter, paint and stickers, and use battery-operated candles or glow sticks to light jack-o-lanterns.
For costumes, wigs and accessories, keep things fire-resistant. Drivers more easily see lighter colors than dark colors, and adding reflective tape to costumes and treat bags and/or giving your children glow sticks will help keep kids even more visible.
SafeKids.org shares a scary statistic: “Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.” Don’t let a lack of visibility or awareness put your kids in danger.
For all ages, cross streets at intersections, make eye contact with drivers while crossing, and don’t dart across streets. Be aware of your surroundings—keep cell phones in a pocket or bag. Everyone should pay attention to what’s going on around them, not social media.
On that same note, for parents and anyone else driving during trick-or-treat hours, please be on high alert; watch carefully for children walking on sidewalks, curbs, roads and medians.
When younger children are out, even in the immediate neighborhood, always have a responsible adult accompanying them, and make sure the adult has a flashlight with fresh batteries. For older children, ensure that their route and activities are acceptable to you and that they have an agreed upon time to be home. Also, while it’s a given that children already know never to enter a stranger’s home, a reminder is never a bad idea.
Kids shouldn’t eat any treats until an adult has had the opportunity to inspect them. Discard anything not sealed, with torn packaging or that looks questionable. For very young children, weed out gum, peanuts, hard candies and other choking hazards, and if your child has food allergies, check candy labels carefully. Lastly, avoid sugar ODs; ration out treats a few at a time.
If trick-or-treating isn't right for your child, consider planning a costume contest and candy swap party with friends or neighbors. Also, there are usually activities going on through local schools, churches or community centers; check them for other options.
This year, COVID-19 is still surging through most areas of the country. There is no zero-risk scenario when mingling with others outside your household, especially in areas with elevated community spread.
CDC guidance is that small outdoor events and indoor in-person gatherings where everyone is masked and 6 feet apart are considered moderately risky; and medium- to large-size gatherings, as well as close contact from door-to-door trick-or-treating, can be high-risk for spreading the virus. Visit the CDC’s website for more guidance around holiday activities by risk level.
As a final thought… Health care workers have been our heroes these past two years. Reduce the COVID risk to your kids by suggesting they dress up as a doctor or nurse and wearing a facemask will fit right in!