Thinking ahead for a safe Halloween

Trick-or-treaters braved the chill and the drizzle for Downtown Halloween in Cadillac on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019.

CADILLAC — Trick-or-treating always calls for steps to protect kids from cars, uneven sidewalks and unsafe candy.

But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus SARS COV-2, there are additional measures community members can take to avoid spreading the virus on Oct. 31.

The following are some tips from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via the local health departments, District Health Department No. 10 and Central Michigan District Health Department.

The most important tip, of course, is to stay home and/or avoid contact with others if you’re sick.

For Trick-Or-Treaters

1. One-way Trick-or-Treating

The health department is recommending one-way trick-or-treating. Instead of using sidewalks as their own roadways, with kids traveling up and down the path in both directions, direct kids to stay to the right; kids traveling in the opposite direction should use the other side of the street.

2. Trick-or-treat with your household.

In previous years, your kids might have met up with friends for trick-or-treating. This year, it’s best to go trick-or-treating with members of your household. You also might need to remind kids to stay six feet apart from people who aren’t in your group. Kids might need some coaching so they don’t cluster around doorways or bunch up around treat stations.

3. Use a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Costume masks are “not a substitute for a cloth mask,‘ according to the CDC. Since wearing both a costume mask and a cloth mask could make it hard to breathe, skip the costume mask and wear only the cloth mask. You might consider a Halloween-themed costume mask or one in a color that complements your child’s costume.

4. Bring hand sanitizer.

Use it frequently.

For Homeowners

1. Find creative ways to mark six feet leading from the sidewalk to your front door or treat station.

The health department recommends using duct tape. You might be able to find Halloween-themed duct tape to mark six-foot stations on your driveway. Depending on your lighting situation, you may also be able to use sidewalk chalk. Pumpkins or other decorations may also be roped into service.

2. Set up a “treat station.‘

Since things can get crowded at your front door, consider setting up a treat station in a more open space, such as a driveway or front yard. The health department recommends setting up a “distribution table‘ between yourself and the trick-or-treaters. The table should be disinfected, and you can spread the treats out and step back.

3. Use goodie bags.

Wash your hands before preparing and setting out individually wrapped goodie bags.

4. Consider a neighborhood costume parade.

“It is an easy way to keep safe space between children,‘ the health department said.

5. Re-think the scary stuff.

Indoor haunted houses or spooky displays could lead to screaming, which would lead to more droplets in the air. Indoor haunted houses are considered a higher-risk activity; outdoors “If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus,‘ according to the CDC.

Other safety tips

COVID-19 isn’t the only safety consideration you should make this year. The usual recommendations still apply.

In a news release, the city of Cadillac reminded residents of some guidelines to keep families safe this Halloween.

That includes visibility reminders, such as using flashlights, headlamps, reflective tape, or glowsticks; replacing burned-out exterior lightbulbs and using headlights while driving.

Unaccompanied kids should take a mobile phone with them; meanwhile, the city is reminding motorists that using a phone while driving could be an especially dangerous distraction on Halloween.

Trick-or-treating hours in Cadillac will be Oct. 31 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Cadillac News