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Halloween is my personal favorite holiday of the year. It’s all about dressing up and being someone else (or something else) and going out to see fun and scary decorations and costumes. And of course, there’s the candy. I even love haunted houses where I scream and laugh all at the same time.

Last year, Halloween kind of didn’t happen, with many communities cancelling their celebrations due to COVID-19. Even though COVID-19 is continuing on this year, I am sure many people, young and old, are looking forward to getting out and enjoying Halloween. I know I’m looking forward to seeing some scary decorations out there!

Here are some suggestions on remaining safe this Halloween, in terms of costume, COVID-19, pedestrian and candy safety:

• Costume safety: Before even going out to enjoy Halloween, please choose a costume and accessories that are fire resistant. If you plan to be out after dark, fasten reflective tape to children’s costumes and bags and/or give them a glow stick or flashlight to carry so they can be more visible to other people and vehicles.

• COVID-19 safety: Please stay updated on county gathering guidelines. Hawaii, including Maui County, is doing pretty good right now in terms of number of new COVID-19 cases. We want to continue to do what we can, so we don’t have a spike in new infections due to Halloween gatherings. Remember that outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities, especially combined with physical distancing of 6 feet or more. Avoid crowded indoor parties and haunted houses. Incorporate cloth or disposable surgical masks into your costume that covers both your mouth and nose. Costume masks are not a suitable alternative. If you are putting out candy and treats for trick-or-treaters, put out low-contact pre-packaged treats on a table rather than a bowl full of candy for many people to grab at.

• Pedestrian safety: For trick-or-treat safety especially after dark, again please increase your visibility (and especially visibility of children) by attaching reflective tape to costumes and/or carry a glow stick or flashlight. Young children should always be accompanied by a responsible adult. Older youth should tell you their route, tell you what time they will return home, agree to travel only in familiar and well-lit areas, and agree to stick with their friends.

Even though it’s easy to get excited on Halloween, walk on sidewalks where available and make sure to look both directions before crossing the street. If you are driving, please drive slowly, drive with extra caution and enter and exit driveways carefully. Trick-or-treaters may be wearing dark costumes and may be difficult to see. Statistically, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. We absolutely need to keep our keiki safe!

• Candy safety: To keep kids safe, parents should examine treats before allowing kids to eat any. Make sure the treats don’t include ingredients your kids are allergic to, make sure the wrappers and packaging haven’t been altered or opened and avoid homemade treats. And, of course, wash your hands before eating your treats.

Finally, stay home if you are feeling sick, even if you are having mild symptoms! We need to protect each other.

Please safely enjoy what I consider to be the best and most fun holiday of the year. Happy Halloween! For more information on health topics in general, please contact Public Health Education at (808) 984-8216.

* Kristin Mills is a public health educator with the state Department of Health’s Maui District Health Office.

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