Opinion

Doctor: Keep safety in mind during Halloween this year

Posted 10/22/21

Excitement is building as children and parents look forward to Halloween. Selecting costumes and buying treats are part of the preparations, but safety and healthy choices should also be part of your …

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Opinion

Doctor: Keep safety in mind during Halloween this year

Posted

Excitement is building as children and parents look forward to Halloween. Selecting costumes and buying treats are part of the preparations, but safety and healthy choices should also be part of your planning.

Although the CDC has approved resumption of Halloween traditions such as door-to-door activities, public health officials advise following COVID-19 precautions.

Despite trick-or-treating being an outdoor activity, which greatly reduces the risk for COVID-19, it is not always possible to avoid a crowded sidewalk or walkway. Children, especially those 11 and younger who cannot yet get vaccinated, should wear a cloth or surgical mask with their Halloween costumes.

Due to breathability issues, these masks should be worn beneath the costume mask.

Halloween costume masks alone are not adequate at preventing transmission of the coronavirus.

Stay in small groups while trick-or-treating, and limit to outdoor activities. Consider going out with just your family, or another family you are regularly around.

Although spread of the virus via candy is less likely, children will likely encounter high touch surfaces.

Children should be reminded to sanitize their hands frequently during their outing, and especially before removing masks or touching their face.

For those handing out candy, the following precautions are also advised:

  • Despite being fully vaccinated, people handing out candy should wear a mask because they are coming into contact with unvaccinated people, especially children 11 and younger.
  • Set up a table with candy spread out instead of using a bowl from which children need to reach in for candy.
  • If using a candy bowl, make sure to hand candy out and sanitize between groups.

As our awareness of better nutrition continues to evolve, so do our choices for treats. Inexpensive items like stickers, bubbles, crayons and Play-Doh bring a fun twist to Halloween treats. Raisins and goldfish in factory-packaged snack bags are another option.

“Check expiration dates and inspect all edibles before allowing children to eat them. Don’t let children eat anything with questionable or unknown ingredients, especially if they have food allergies,” noted Dr. Kevin Rodriguez, an emergency physician at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus and Abrazo Surprise Hospital.

Additionally, while edibles containing cannabis, commonly referred to as marijuana, have been around for years, we are now frequently finding it packaged in ways that more closely resembles a traditional candy or popular kid’s snack, such as gummy bears, potato chips or chocolate chip cookies.

“Although edibles that are sold at dispensaries are required to display important information regarding contents making it clear they are not meant for children, labeling laws vary from state to state. Labeling information you might encounter include words such as THC content, medicated, medibles, or marijuana leaves displayed on the packaging,” said Rodriguez.

“Consequently, do not allow children to snack on the go while trick or treating, and remind them to carefully inspect their loot with an adult at the end of their activities. Throw out any candy or treats that are not in sealed factory packaging. Thoroughly inspect packing and labels discarding anything that is torn or looks questionable. Homemade goodies should also be tossed,” he said. 

Your child’s health isn’t limited to the goodies they’re consuming. Handing out glow sticks can help with safety and visibility along neighborhood streets. Make sure masks fit correctly and costumes aren’t too long. Both can be a tripping hazard, particularly in the dark.

Kids with sensitive skin can break out in itchy rashes and hives from makeup. By testing makeup on a small area of your child’s skin, you can quickly determine if the makeup will be safe for your child. Cosmetic contact lenses may seem cool, but they can actually cause corneal abrasions, infection and even vision loss.

“Obey traffic signals and stay in crosswalks when crossing streets. Wear costumes that are flame resistant and bright colored so as to improve visibility in the dark. Make sure foot wear is slip resistant to avoid falls,” adds Rodriguez. “Use flashlights to improve visibility and remind children to keep them pointed towards the ground so as to not impede the vision of other trick or treaters, or drivers.”

Rodriguez stresses setting ground rules: carry hand sanitizer, plan a familiar route (create a map), set a curfew, never go inside a home or car, no snacking on goodies while trick or treating.

Remind kids to stay in small groups, and younger children should be accompanied by an adult. Everyone should wear reflective tape on their costumes and carry flashlights so they are easily visible to drivers.

“Remind children and adults to put down the electronic devices, keep their heads up and walk, don’t run, across streets,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “Drivers need to watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs, and enter and exit driveways carefully.”

The ER at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus is at 18701 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale. Abrazo Peoria Emergency Center is at 26900 N. Lake Pleasant Parkway in Peoria. Abrazo Surprise Hospital ER is at 16815 W Bell Road in Surprise. For information on online ER check-ins, visit AbrazoHealth.com.

Editor’s note: Dr, Kevin A. Rodriguez is an emergency room physician and facility medical director for Abrazo Arrowhead Campus Emergency Department and Abrazo Peoria Emergency Center. He is vice chief of staff at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus, Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital and Abrazo Surprise Hospital. Visit AbrazoHealth.com.

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