Here’s the safest way to give out candy on Halloween

giving out candy on halloween
Photo via Luke Jones/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

With Oct. 31 approaching and COVID-19 cases on the rise again, families are wrestling with ways to safely celebrate the holiday—whether that means going door to door trick-or-treating or giving out candy on Halloween themselves. 

The CDC considers “participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door” as a “high risk” activity. But without a federal plan to adhere to, it stands to reason that kids are going to show up at your door regardless.

This may leave homeowners in a precarious spot. However, there are ways to mitigate your risk while giving out candy on Halloween.

Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist, told Good Housekeeping that you should also factor in whether you live in an area where there’s still ongoing community spread.

“In areas where the community prevalence is lower, I think it’s OK to plan to trick-or-treat,” explains Kesh. “But it’s going to be a different experience than it was last year.”

For instance, consider sitting outside to give out candy, weather permitting, to avoid neighbors touching doorbells and potentially dispensing contaminated droplets into your home. You can also choose one family member to be the designated candy holder to minimize contact with the candy and to provide hand sanitizer to trick-or-treaters.

If you’re sitting outside or having neighbors knock at your door, it’s also not a bad idea to disinfect doorknobs, doorbells, or any other high-touch surfaces outside your home at the end of the night.

The CDC also suggests individually wrapped goodie bags that can be prepared in advance for families to pick up from a distance, “such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard.” The agency notes that you should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing goodie bags, as an added precaution.

“The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to limit your interaction with others as much as possible,” Molly Hyde, an infection control practitioner at Maryland-based GBMC Healthcare, said. “If you are going to hand out candy in person, make sure you are wearing a face-covering over your nose and mouth when giving out candy.”

There’s also nothing wrong with simply leaving out a candy bowl, for those who are still anxious about the risk of COVID-19. “If you’re at higher risk for severe coronavirus symptoms, I think a candy bowl is the way to go, especially if you live in a high transmission area,” Kesh said.

But of course, it all comes down to an individual’s risk adversity and personal comfort level. It doesn’t make you a grinch if you’d prefer to stay inside with the lights off while having a Halloween-themed movie night. In fact, the CDC even recommends this as a lower risk activity that can be a safe alternative to giving out candy.

Sources: CDC, Good Housekeeping

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