What are some ways to help keep my kids safe this Halloween?
As a cancer physician caring for immunocompromised patients and a mom of young children, I’m grappling with this question myself. Last year, big Halloween festivals, parades and parties were a no-go in most areas, which means so many kids are excited this year to don those costumes and go on the hunt for their favorite treats. But with schools back to in-person learning and the COVID-19 Delta variant being so easily transmissible, hospitalizations among kids are rising nationwide and in Orange County.
It’s wise to take precautions if you’re planning to take the kids out. Here are some safer ways to celebrate:
Enjoy Halloween at home. This of course is the safest possible option, but it doesn’t have to be a ho-hum affair. Try backyard trick-or-treating, a mini scavenger hunt or a home-made haunted or fun house.
Wear a mask. The next best thing to staying home, especially if your child has a medical condition or is immunocompromised, is to have them wear a protective mask, even if trick-or-treating outdoors.
Avoid crowds. Steering clear of trick-or-treat clusters (especially groups of shouting kids, which will send particles of the virus out into open air quickly) is a good idea with the Delta variant hanging around.
Map your route. One of my passions as a physician is helping patients navigate their cancer journey. Planning, communication and information make perfect sense on a trick-or-treating quest as well. Contact family members or neighbors who will be using alternative methods to hand out candy in a distanced fashion, such as setting treats out in pre-filled bags or tossing items into the kids’ bags.
Stay faithful to the 6-feet rule. While being outdoors is much safer than being indoors without ventilation, it’s still smart to put a safe distance between your kids and others.
Be a role model. Kids love to emulate us, so be a diligent handwasher, indoor mask donner and social distancer. It helps if you’re a doctor or have healthcare professionals in your family, so you can encourage them to wash their hands and mask up like a pro.
While we hoped to be closer to “back to normal” than we are today, remaining cautious is our best option in keeping younger children, and ourselves, safe.
Dilruba Haque, M.D., is a medical oncologist-hematologist who specializes in breast cancer at City of Hope Newport Beach Lido and City of Hope Irvine Sand Canyon.