Choosing costumes, decorating pumpkins, and getting special treats brings joy to many children at Halloween. Some Halloween traditions may still look different this year to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. With increased vaccinations in kids and adults, trick or treating may be an option again. If you are concerned for the safety of your family however, there are still plenty of ways you can have fun while avoiding the fear of being exposed to or spreading the virus through trick or treating.
If you and your children are not vaccinated or have compromised immune systems, keep doing what you have been doing: avoiding large gatherings, keeping a distance of six feet from others, wearing cloth face coverings (think superhero!), and washing hands often. Some ideas for ways to keep safety steps in place while celebrating:
Virtual costume parties & parades
Spooky movie night
Make Halloween-themed treats
Social-distanced outdoor community events
Trick-or-treating may be discouraged or cancelled again in some areas this year. A family scavenger hunt for treats in your home or yard can be a fun alternative. If trick-or-treating is still on in your neighborhood, avoid large groups or clustering at doorsteps or anywhere else. If you hand out treats, consider sitting outside and lining up individually pre packed treat bags for families to take (don’t forget to wear your own mask!). Non-edible treats are a good option, especially for children who suffer from food allergies.
Avoid a Food Allergy Scare on Halloween
Halloween is one of the trickiest days of the year for children with food allergies. Kids often haul home pounds of treats, and even small amounts of an ingredient they are allergic to can cause a potentially life-threatening reaction.
Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help ensure Halloween’s frights stay festive and don’t involve a medical emergency.
Reading Before Eating
Always read the ingredient label on any treat your child receives. Many popular Halloween candies contain some of the most common allergens, such as peanuts or tree nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat.
Be aware that even if they are not listed on the ingredient label, candies (both chocolate and non-chocolate) are at high risk of containing trace amounts of common allergy triggers, because factories often produce many different products. Also, “fun size” or miniature candies may have different ingredients or be made on different equipment than the regular size candies, meaning that brands your child previously ate without problems could cause a reaction.
Teach your child to politely turn down home-baked items such as cupcakes and brownies, and never to taste or share another child’s food.
Offer non-edible goodies to trick-or-treaters and classmates. Food Allergy Research & Education’s Teal Pumpkin Project, which promotes safe trick-or-treating options for food-allergic children, suggests items such as glow sticks, spider rings, vampire fangs, pencils, bubbles, bouncy balls, finger puppets, whistles, bookmarks, stickers and stencils. Consider supplying some to neighbors whose homes your child will visit.
Center parties around festive activities such as costume parades, pumpkin decorating contests, Halloween themed games, crafts and scavenger hunts or spooky story books.
Face Paints & Makeup: Choose Carefully to Avoid Toxic Ingredients
Face paint and makeup are fun for kids on Halloween. When choosing face paint and makeup products, don’t gloss over the ingredients.
Even products marketed to children and teens can cause problems like skin irritation and allergies or contain toxic ingredients like lead,mercury, or asbestos. Many products have been recalled because they were made with harmful ingredients.
Spot bad cosmetic ingredients
Cosmetic products and ingredients do not have to be tested by the FDA before they are sold. The FDA simply requires them to be safe when used according to their directions. However, the FDA requires the approval of ingredients used as “color additives” in cosmetics. Here’s what to watch for to keep your child’s look safe and fun.
Dressing up as a rock star for Halloween? Beware of cosmetics with heavy metals. Many cosmetics contain heavy metals. These can include arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead, all of which can be toxic in large amounts—especially to children. Other natural ingredients sometimes in cosmetics like rubber (latex) in face and body paints, cobalt and nickel, have caused people to develop sensitivities. .
Are toxic ingredients listed under a different name? For example, lead might be listed as “kohl,” “kajal” or “surma,” and mercury might be called “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric” or “mercurio.”
Bright colors can make you glow, but keep them away from your eyes. Many neon color ingredients used in cosmetics are considered safe by the FDA, and one is even approved for a glow-in-the-dark look. Find highlights on these FDA-approved ingredients.
Is talc an ingredient? Talc is a powdery mineral that forms in the ground near the mineral asbestos. If the talc mixes with asbestos when taken from the ground, the contaminated talc could end up in the cosmetic. Asbestos can cause cancer and mesothelioma after many years of exposure.
Avoid an infection from makeup
Read directions and wash hands before applying cosmetics.
Do not share makeup with others.
Do not store makeup in a place that is too warm or too moist.
If the product smells bad, it could be contaminated. Throw it away and use another one. Remove the product at the end of the day. Follow the label directions.
Halloween is a chance for you and your children to get creative, and maybe even invent some new traditions for your family! It’s also a great opportunity to model flexibility and a positive spirit. If you’re excited and make it fun, your kids will have fun, too.
More importantly, this is a good time to teach children the importance of protecting not just themselves but others, as well. The decisions we make on this one day can have a ripple effect beyond our own families. Finding safe ways to celebrate can create magical memories.
If you have questions on safety during Halloween call either Kids First Pediatrics locations: Raleigh, 919-250-3478. Clayton, 919-267-1499
*This article is informational but is not a substitute for medical attention or information from your provider.