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Should kids go trick-or-treating during the pandemic?



A pediatrician gives advice to families

kids, Halloween, trick-or-treating, safety, pandemic, pediatrician


Trick-or-treating takes place outdoors, so that's a plus. But there's also contact with strangers, and candy is being passed along, so we have to think ahead, given that COVID is still an issue. We also want to protect our neighbors as well as our own children. Pediatrician Jean Moorjani offers these tips to keep your family, and others, safe.

Handing out candy: It's best to designate one person to handle the candy. Don't let the kids participate in distribution this year, and don't set out a bowl that multiple children will be digging into. If the whole family wants to watch the parade of costumes, set up seats in the driveway, at a distance from the person giving out the candy. Of course, stick to individually wrapped items. Some communities have organized drive-by trick-or-treating, in which kids stand in front of their houses in costume (with an adult on hand). Families drive by, and one adult per car tosses out candy. Sterilize a bowl (use metal or glass, wipe with a bleach/water solution or pour boiling water over it, and wait for it to cool) and dump the candy in. Use a pair of tongs that can be sanitized if necessary, to hand out the candy. No touch until the child picks it up. You can also just sanitize your hands frequently.

Gloves or no gloves? All kids should wear masks over nose and mouth while trick-or-treating, but gloves are not considered an effective preventative, unless they are frequently changed and washed. At hospitals, staff change gloves and wash their hands after seeing each patient, but in the day-to-day world, wearing gloves just moves around the germs. Hand sanitizer is more effective.

What about sanitizing collected candy? At the start of the pandemic, it was not unusual for people to sanitize groceries and mail on the way into the house. However, said Dr. Moorjani, "The transmission of the coronavirus on surfaces is low." You probably don't have to worry about Halloween candy. If it makes you feel better, you can sanitize your child's candy, but at that level of concern, you might want to buy candy and give it directly to your own kids.

Accompanying your child on the rounds: Bring hand sanitizer and enforce mask-wearing. If kids are resistant, have them decorate a mask as part of their costume. If you're going around after dark, don't forget a flashlight or glow stick.

These simple guidelines should enable us all to have a fun Halloween, despite the state of the world.



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