Families Seek Guidance For Safe Halloween

Two Texas mothers create interactive map to help parents as North Texas doctors write out recommendations on safe Halloween festivities

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Halloween is less than two weeks away and most parents are planning how, or even if, they will celebrate.

Two Houston-area mothers decided to create a tool to help parents as North Texas doctors write out recommendations on safe Halloween festivities.

Like every parent, Stephanie Fowler wasn't sure whether any Halloween fun would happen during the pandemic.

"We were really worried that wasn't going to be a possibility because it was unclear who was going to be taking COVID precautions and who wasn't, and we really had a need to know what we were going to find at our neighbors' doorsteps before we got there," said Fowler, mother of a 1-year-old and 5-year-old.

With no solution in sight, she and her best friend created Halloween-Map.com, a site where people can post their Halloween plans.

The interactive map allows residents, from anywhere in the United States, to disclose how they plan to participate, according to levels of precaution.

Options range from contactless candy pickup or spooky outdoor decor, to traditional trick or treating or opting out altogether.

Fowler said it works best if multiple residents from individual neighborhoods opt to participate in the map.

"There's no judgment. We aren't saying one way is better than the other way. We are just trying to get the information for ourselves and share it with other people so they can make the decisions they feel are best for their families," said Fowler.

Physicians in North Texas have broken down traditional activities into low, moderate, and high-risk categories according to CDC guidelines.

“Some traditional Halloween festivities need to be modified this year to avoid high-risk activities involving close contact, but there are still plenty of fun holiday activities to enjoy with your kids,” said Vice-Chair of the North Texas Medical Society Coalition Dr. Beth Kassanoff.

“Continue to stay physically distanced, wear a cloth or disposable surgical mask, and wash your hands, but have fun with the holiday.”

Participants should wear a cloth face covering, maintain physical distance, and wash their hands frequently while participating in any of these activities. Additionally, wearing a cloth face-covering along with a traditional costume mask over or under it should be avoided.

Low-Risk Activities:
• Carving and decorating pumpkins with members of your immediate household or with friends at tables 6-10 feet apart, separated by household
• Halloween scavenger hunts with members of your immediate household
• Decorating your home
• A virtual Halloween costume contest with your school, friends, and/or family
• A physically distanced Halloween movie with an outside screen and projector, or a family movie night inside with the members of your immediate household
• A piñata at home with members of your immediate household

Moderate-Risk Activities:
• A small group (less than 10 people) outdoor costume parade while maintaining physical distance and wearing a cloth face covering
• Individual goody bags set up on an outside table for grab-and-go trick or treating. Consider leaving hand sanitizer for added safety
• Visiting pumpkin patches while maintaining physical distance and wearing a cloth face covering

High-Risk Activities:
• Traditional trick or treating door-to-door
• ‘Trunk or Treat’ events and Fall Festivals and carnivals
• Haunted Houses
• Hayrides
• Outdoor gatherings that do not allow for physical distancing or any indoor parties or events with individuals outside your immediate household

Some steps you can take to mitigate concerns might include:
• Get your flu shot at least two weeks before Halloween
• Use hand sanitizer regularly and avoid touching your face
• Wear a cloth face covering if you are participating in any Halloween activities with people other than those living in your home
• Wash your hands well before eating
• Do not participate in activities with other people if you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19

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