Halloween Safety for You and Your Kids – It’s not just WHAT you do, it’s HOW you prepare
By Sarah Cheatham-Oberle, OTD, OTR/L · October 28, 2020
What is in store for you and your family this holiday season? How much thought have you given it? One of the hardest things we are faced with this year is that there aren’t always clear right and wrong decisions when it comes to what, where, with whom, and how to engage in our meaningful activities. Instead, we are faced with low, medium, and high-risk activities, people, and places. I know not to accept homemade treats from strangers at Halloween, but what about my in-laws’ homemade pie at Thanksgiving? I know I’ll wear a mask when hanging out, but what do I do during the meal?
With the holidays fast approaching, our annual celebrations of the season, family, and fun are incredibly meaningful and important for our mental health and sense of belonging even more so than they usually are. So how do we move through this festive season celebrating safely? Let’s start by thinking about Halloween and Día de los Muertos, but remember that these principals can be applied throughout the holidays. It’s imperative to think ahead and make a plan. This list won’t tell you what to do, rather it will help guide you through how to make smart decisions that are right for you. Be sure to refer to the CDC’s guide to Holiday Celebrations for more information and always plan to wear a mask when you plan to be in close proximity to others.
- Make a list of your usual traditions and new ones that you’re considering this year.
- Analyze the task. Think like an OT and break down the activity; what does it require that I do? For instance, traditional neighborhood trick-or-treating requires (1) dressing up, (2) walking outside, (3) walking in or past groups of people, (4) knocking on doors, (5) speaking with someone up close, (6) and accepting or grabbing candy. If you’re in a really fun neighborhood, it might also include going through a front yard or garage haunted house.
- Assign risk level. Compare your list to the CDC’s list and really know how much risk each activity poses.
- Decide your comfort level with the level of risk posed by each activity. This is where things differ greatly from person to person, and that’s OK.
- Make your choice.
- Share your choice with your family and friends with whom you plan to spend time. Children, especially, will be comforted to know what the plan is ahead of time. This can also reduce whining and complaining when reminded in the middle of their fun that going through the neighbor’s garage haunted house is, in fact, not part of the plan.
- Be kind – Kindness towards yourself and others will go a long way during these unusual times.