CULTON: Be sure to be safe this Halloween season

Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of year — especially when I was a kid. There was nothing more exciting than choosing a costume (I was a princess nearly every year, of course), picking out candy with my friends and experiencing the rare thrill of receiving a full-size candy bar while out trick-or-treating.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve graduated from prowling the streets for candy each Halloween to turning on my front porch light and allowing costumed children to knock on my door in search of it.

However, this year, my front porch light will remain off in the name of public safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have listed trick-or-treating as a high-risk activity that could increase the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

As safer alternatives to trick-or-treating, the CDC has recommended the following activities:

• Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them

• Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends

• Decorating your house, apartment or living space

• Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance

• Having a virtual Halloween costume contest

• Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with

• Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

However, if you do decide to take part in trick-or-treating, there are still ways you can make the activity safer. The CDC recommends the following steps for those giving out candy:

• Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters

• Give out treats outdoors, if possible

• Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take

• Wash hands before handling treats

• Wear a mask

For the children and parents going door to door for trick-or-treating, the CDC recommends:

• Mask wearing. You can get creative and decorate the mask to be a part of your costume, but remember that a costume mask (such as a ghoul mask) is not a substitute for a cloth, CDC approved mask. Masks should not be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing

• Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

• Wash your hands frequently, and bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people

No matter how you choose to spend your Halloween this year, please follow any and all safety recommendations. We all have a role to play in keeping the community safe and healthy.

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