Halloween 2020 won’t look like any Halloween you or your kids have ever experienced. While costumes for past Halloweens have often included masks, we’ve never been cautioned to make sure any mask we wear has at least two layers of breathable fabric that covers our mouth and nose. But this is COVID-19 Halloween, and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) is on board for taking precautions to make sure your kids stay safe – and not just from witches and ghosts.
“Every year we send out tips on how to keep your kids with allergies and asthma symptom-free as they celebrate one of their favorite holidays – Halloween,” says allergist J. Allen Meadows, MD, ACAAI president. “This year, along with our usual guidance, we want to point people to the CDC and their recommendations for avoiding COVID-19. The usual Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses, and families should consider safer alternatives. Many of these options will also help kids who have asthma, allergies or food allergies avoid their triggers.”
Here are five tips from ACAAI to help guide your Halloween planning this year:
- Make it a safe mask all the way around – If your kids are attending Halloween-themed events, they’ll need to wear a mask and maintain social distance from others. There are Halloween-themed cloth masks that will help protect your kids from COVID-19, so encourage your kids to pick a costume that works with a protective mask. The CDC warns that a costume mask should not be worn over a cloth mask if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Ordinary costume masks are not a substitute for a proper mask designed to minimize transmission of COVID germs.
- Pick activities that avoid allergens – If your Halloween activities are focused around your home, you control the environment and the allergens. That means you can make sure all treats are allergen-free if your child suffers from a food allergy. Consider doing pumpkin carving or having a costume parade over Zoom. You could also do a scavenger hunt around your home and yard. Your child still gets to be creative with their carving or their costume-making, but they are keeping away from viruses.
- If you must go trick or treating – The CDC recommends participating in one-way trick or treating where individual goodie bags are lined up for families to grab at the end of a driveway or edge of a yard. If you are the person preparing the goodie bags, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags. If you go trick or treating, make sure you check candy when you get home for any that might contain food allergens.
- Make sure your child with allergies or asthma is armed for battle – If your child with allergies or asthma is attending a Halloween event or going one-way trick or treating, make sure they have their supplies with them. If your child has asthma, bring their inhaler. Kicking up moldy leaves can cause asthma symptoms. And if they have a food allergy, don’t leave home without their epinephrine auto injector in case they sneak a treat that contains something they are allergic to.
- Keep it outdoors – Some activities are safer than others and provide opportunities to celebrate Halloween and maintain social distancing. The CDC suggests as a moderate-risk activity an outdoor costume party where protective masks are used, and partygoers can remain more than six feet apart. You could also have an open-air costume parade for a small group where people are spaced more than six feet apart. Neighborhood house-decorating contests are a fun “no contact” way to celebrate too.
2020 has been a year of challenges, and Halloween will be added to the list. Whatever you choose to do to celebrate, stay safe, wear a mask, and remain six feet away from others. Everything you do to stay healthy will also help you keep your child’s allergies and asthma under control.
If you think your child might have allergies or asthma, make an appointment with one of our allergists for proper testing.