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As Houston Readies for Trick-or-Treaters, Tips for a Safe Halloween 2020

Halloween is just days away, and while the holiday will certainly look different this year, thousands of kids across Texas will be heading out to trick-or-treat and participate in other festivities that traditionally accompany the spooky season.

If your family’s preparing to don costumes and go on the hunt for candy this year, it’s important to take proper precautions to ensure everyone stays safe while they’re having fun.

What Coronavirus Means for Halloween

Halloween 2020 arrives in the United States just as the novel coronavirus appears headed for its third peak of the year. In fact, officials in at least two Texas counties – Hidalgo and El Paso – have banned trick-or-treating entirely and encouraged families to opt for safer activities.

While Halloween will proceed as usual in Houston and elsewhere, parents and caregivers are being asked to take some extra precautions:

“The City of Houston is not canceling Halloween this year, but we are discouraging people from gathering in large groups,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted recently. “It is important that we keep the COVID-19 numbers moving in the right direction. This requires us to be smarter about how we trick-or-treat. Families and children can still have a ghoulish good time without jeopardizing their health and safety during the pandemic.”

The city and health department also suggested the following alternatives to ensure a safer Halloween:

  • One-way trick-or-treating, where wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while maintaining a safe social distance.
  • Haunted forests and other outdoor activities rather than traditional haunted houses.
  • Scavenger hunts or spooky movie nights with household members.
  • Baking Halloween-themed treats with household members.
  • Virtual costume parties.

Mayor Turner also reminded families that Halloween masks aren’t a substitute for cloth face masks.

“A costume mask should not be used unless it’s made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the nose and mouth and doesn’t leave gaps around the face,” he continued.

Halloween Traffic Safety for Parents and Kids

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Halloween is consistently one of the top three days of the year for pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Excited trick-or-treaters can forget about safety, so parents and caregivers need to be on high alert.

  • Make sure Halloween costumes are flame-retardant and light in color to improve visibility.
  • Provide trick-or-treaters with glow sticks or have them wear reflective tape on costumes and treat buckets.
  • Ensure disguises don’t obstruct vision and avoid full facemasks. Use non-toxic face paint and have kids wear COVID masks that coordinate with their costumes.
  • Watch the length of billowy costumes to help avoid tripping.
  • Ensure any toy swords, knives, and other costume props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury from tripping or horseplay.
  • Children under 12 should never trick-or-treat without adult supervision. Older kids should stay in groups and let their parents know where they plan on going.
  • Instruct kids to travel only in familiar areas and along established routes.
  • Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in the streets if possible. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Only visit well-lit houses and never enter a stranger’s home or garage.
  • Look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street.
  • Watch for cars turning or backing up.
  • Cross streets only at the corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
  • Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries. Never shine flashlights into the eyes of oncoming drivers.

Safe Driving on Halloween

Motorists also need to take extra precautions on Halloween:

  • Drive at least 5 mph slower than the posted speed limit if driving in areas where trick-or-treating occurs.
  • Don’t use cell phones and other hand-held devices behind the wheel.
  • Turn on headlights to improve visibility during early morning and evening hours. But don’t use high beams when other vehicles and pedestrians are around.
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
  • Those attending adult Halloween parties should appoint a designated driver.

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