While the origins of Halloween are linked to an ancient Celtic festival, most people today just enjoy the treats and shenanigans of Oct. 31 with costumes and revelry. But ensuring safety during the spookiest night of the year is essential.
Halloween is more of a sober affair this year (as it was in 2020) with the vestiges of COVID-19 still lurking behind every activity … replete with a different kind of mask than one would normally don.
For those who are allowing their children to partake in trick-or-treating this year, there are ways to make the experience safer. Last year, Oklahoma’s Department of Health posted guidance about trick-or-treating during the pandemic.
“There are a multitude of ways people can safely enjoy the holiday season this year and connect with loved ones without putting anyone in unnecessary risk,” says Lance Frye, MD, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health. “Celebrate, but celebrate wisely, and continue following the three Ws: Wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.”
For those who may be at a higher risk to contract the virus, or for those who know they are infected, the Department of Health advises not participating in activities outside your own household and not putting out candy for trick-or-treaters.
One thoughtful recommendation for as little touching as possible is to create individual bags of candy for children to ‘grab and go,’ eliminating the possibility of each child fishing around in a large bowl of candy to dig out a favorite treat.
For those who shop for Halloween year-round and try to outdo themselves (or their neighbors) each year, coming up with creative ways to get the candy to kids can be a fun challenge. Recommendations include candy pulleys, chutes or what is certain to be popular with kids of all ages: the candy cannon.
For traditional trick-or-treaters, Andre Baul, public information officer with the Tulsa Police Department, offers a few common yet important tips.
“Remember to cross at the corners and to use traffic signs and signals at lights,” he says. “Walk, don’t run, down the street. Always make eye contact with drivers if you are crossing the street in a residential neighborhood.”
Baul also suggests wearing reflective vests or costumes that have reflective panels or tape, and having a plan beforehand as to which neighborhoods you will visit and how many houses.
And always check the candy, he says. Acceptable ways to disinfect are easier than one might first think: Give wrapped candy a quick bath in water with ordinary dish soap before eating, or use disinfecting wipes to clean off germs.
“Stay off the electronics,” says Baul. “Put the phones and tablets away. Be aware of your surroundings. Stay safe and have a wonderful Halloween.”