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Safety Steps for Spooky Fun

Photos by Heather Ziegler Ohio Valley residents are ghoulishly preparing for Halloween as evidenced by some residential displays found throughout the local area. Shown are some of the examples of the Halloween spirit. In Wheeling, displays range from the MadHatter looming over the lawn on Lynwood Avenue, to a coven of witches located on Hamilton Avenue. Bigger is better as a larger-than-life spooky ghost and a scary pumpkin man greet visitors in one Martins Ferry neighborhood.

(Family Features) Traditional family activities like trick-or-treating create fun moments and memories, but the effects of COVID-19 on this Halloween will bring about change for the spooky excitement.

You can still ensure a special night for your little ones and all the ghouls, goblins and ghosts in your neighborhood by following safety measures aimed at keeping everyone healthy on All Hallows’ Eve. Consider these tips for safe trick-or-treating from the experts at the National Safety Council and leading candy maker, Mars Wrigley.

Before

∫ Buy individually wrapped candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Fun-size packs are one of the easiest forms of candy for trick-or-treaters to grab and go.

∫ Create fun, individual candy goody bags for a no-touch option for trick-or-treaters.

∫ Make sure your yard is well-lit; replace any burnt-out light bulbs.

∫ Create signs encouraging trick-or-treaters to stay 6 feet apart and display them in your yard.

∫ Don’t hand out treats if you are not feeling well.

∫ Consider socially distanced options such as “trunk-or-treating,” during which prepackaged goodies are handed out, or a virtual costume parade. Alternately, you can use a tool like Mars Wrigley’s “TREAT TOWNTM,” an app-based digital experience for families to virtually trick-or-treat for real candy. It offers Halloween fans of all ages the ability to create spooky avatars, customized decorations for your in-app “door” and the ability to “knock” on the doors of friends and family across the country. Visit Treat-Town.com to find more information.

During

∫ Make trick-or-treating care packs with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and extra face masks.

∫ Help little ones clean their hands throughout the night.

∫ Maintain a distance of 6 feet from other groups of trick-or-treaters, allowing one group to collect candy at a time.

* Wear face masks and reflective tape or clothing and carry flashlights or glow sticks if you’re walking in the dark.

* Do “mask checks.” Stop in a safe place and make sure young children’s masks are covering their mouths and noses.

* Use sidewalks and crosswalks. Don’t cross the street between cars and be as visible as possible as drivers may be distracted.

* Consider setting up a grab-and-go “candy corner” for visitors, inclusive of hand sanitizer and treats.

After

* Wash your hands when you get home.

* Sanitize candy wrappers before eating or let it sit for 24 hours.

* Follow the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule. Throw away any candy that is open, ripped or has torn packaging, an unusual appearance or pinholes. Discard any homemade items made by people you don’t know.

* Watch for choking hazards. If you have a young child, make sure candy he or she collected isn’t a choking hazard. If it is, discard it.

* Keep candy away from pets, especially chocolate and sugar-free gum, which can be poisonous for your furry friends.

Handing Out Treats from Home

If you’re staying home to hand out treats to the superheroes, ghosts, princesses and other little guests that arrive on your doorstep, consider these ideas to encourage safety and fun:

* Minimize the number of hands reaching into a bowl. Find fun, hands-free ways to give candy to trick-or-treaters. You can place candy on your lawn or driveway, so trick-or-treaters don’t have to crowd around your front door, touch handrails or knock.

* Move out of the way any items that children could trip over and keep pets inside.

* Stand outside when handling treats, wear a mask and use hand sanitizer often. Consider keeping a large bottle of sanitizer near you for visitors to use as well.

* Allow one small group at a time at your door.

* Give out one set of treats at a time to minimize hands reaching into a common bowl. For example, fun-size packs of treats like M&M’s and Snickers offer plenty of options and are easy for trick-or-treaters to grab and go.

Source: Mars Chocolate North America

Meanwhile, health officials offer their take on observing Halloween in 2020.

Dr. Gavin Yamey, professor of global health and public policy at Duke University, and Melissa Kay, research scholar at the Duke Global Digital Health Science Center, told USA Today, “We’ve looked at the risks … and believe that in most cases, there are ways to honor the tradition. What does a safer celebration look like? It begins with the fundamental precautions we should be taking with any activity during this pandemic, including wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and regularly washing hands. We can still enjoy a modified form of trick-or-treating, even in the midst of this pandemic.”

Aaron E. Carroll, professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times said, “But if I had to design an activity for children that might be safe during a pandemic, I’m not sure that I could do a better job than trick-or-treating. It’s outside. It can be socially distanced. The food is individually wrapped (before anyone partakes, parents can wipe the candies down while kids wash their hands). It’s the one night a year when kids will not argue at all about wearing masks.”

Dr. Neha Vyas, family medicine speciali

Officials with the Cleveland Clinic suggest, “Get creative and encourage your child to think about how their face mask can be part of their costume.Opt for a mask that matches the costume’s style, or have them pick a costume where a face mask is an essential part – like a doctor or a ninja. And as long as your child can still see and breathe fine and there’s plenty of ventilation, you can layer a Halloween mask over a cloth face mask.”

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