October is fire prevention month. While COVID has interrupted a lot of annual traditions, many families are determined to celebrate what is known this year as Quarantine-O-Ween. A Harris Poll finds that 80 percent of families have put trick-or-treat at the top of their to-do list. They see it as one way to bring some normalcy during this unusual and challenging time.

But parents are also asking, “Is trick-or-treating in 2020 safe?” Compared to the activities of Halloweens past, like house parties, haunted houses or school dances, trick-or-treating outside in a quiet neighborhood has less COVID risk. The Centers for Disease Control has these suggestions to further reduce the risk:

  • Limit trick-or-treating to just your household, or three or four kids at most. Choose those who have been practicing social distancing.
  • Of course, wear a mask. Since Halloween already involves plenty of masks, it should be easy to incorporate a face covering into your child’s costume. If the mask doesn’t sufficiently cover the face, add a cloth one beneath it. All parents should also wear a face mask.
  • Don’t dig around the candy bowl, touching multiple pieces. Choose one and stick with it.
  • Children should hold onto their own candy bags.
  • Don’t share props or toys. Keep the swords, wands and tiaras from being passed around.
  • Give kids hand sanitizer between multiple homes. This is also an opportunity to give kids a break from wearing a mask. Find a safe spot away from others where they can remove their mask with clean hands.
  • Encourage your kids to hold off on eating candy until you get home, and make sure they wash their hands first.

For those handing out candy:

  • Limit your interaction with others and keep your distance as much as possible.
  • Since you need to wear a face mask, get in the “spirit” with your own Halloween-themed mask.
  • Wash your hands frequently to ensure you’re not accidentally bringing germs back into your house.
  • Keep all strangers outside of your house. Make sure they are on your front porch or in your front yard.
  • Consider grab-and-go bags that each visitor can take to reduce the need for kids to reach into a communal bowl.
  • At the end of the night, disinfect any doorknobs, doorbells or other high-touch surfaces outside your home.

Prevention is the Key

COVID aside, there are other safety issues to consider at Halloween. Candles in jack-o’-lanterns, wearing costumes improperly, falls, traffic accidents, and even face makeup can lead to Halloween injuries like cuts, abrasions, wounds, and burns. The most common are hand injuries from pumpkin carving, and injuries due to falls caused by long costumes or costumes that impair vision. To prevent trick-or-treating injuries:

  • Costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire-resistant.
  • Use the buddy system, preferably a parent.
  • Visit homes of people you know or neighborhoods you are familiar with.
  • Trick-or-Treat in daylight.
  • If children are allowed out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes and bags, or give them glow sticks, or better yet, a flashlight with new batteries.
  • Put electronic devices away; keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.

Decorating your home and property for trick-or-treating has its own safety considerations to keep in mind.

  • Keep your home brightly lit indoors and outside. Check the lighting for your front entryway or porch and replace any damaged bulbs that may have burned out.
  • Remove or highlight potential tripping hazards, such as electrical cords. Clear debris and other obstacles from your lawn, sidewalks and steps.
  • Avoid open flames. You may want to opt for battery-operated candles in jack-o’-lanterns or other areas where costumed trick-or-treaters might stand.
  • Be sure that the extension cords you use outside are rated for outdoor use. Check for any frayed wires and replace as needed. Don’t overload extension cords. The cord should be the correct amps for what you’re plugging into it.

Be Prepared

Are you prepared if there is a fire? Do you have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case? If so, how old is it and has it been tested lately? Do you and those in your family know how to use it?

Brothers Fire & Security offers an online course on our website, “How to Effectively Use Fire Extinguishers” that will prepare your family in the event there is a fire. Make it a family evening and take the course together. It’s affordable and easy for kids to follow. All you need are a laptop and internet access. (Don’t forget the popcorn!) The course talks about:

  • The correct way to use different kinds of fire extinguishers.
  • The Fire Triangle, how it works and what to do
  • Life-saving steps to take when there’s a fire
  • Learn about P.A.S.S. and what it means
  • Learn different types of fires and what extinguishers to use when

Finally, October is Fire Prevention Month. There are four important actions I encourage everyone to do this month.

  • Install fire smoke alarms and CO2 detectors on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test them every month. It they’re not working, change the batteries.
  • Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
  • If a fire occurs or your CO2 detector goes off, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. NEVER go back inside for anything or anyone.

I realize Halloween will be different this year but taking time to go through the suggestions above will guide you and your family through a safe, fun and memory-making Halloween.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money, and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods. Our new Online Academy: Life Safety Made Simple with eLearning courses is designed to help you get and keep your staff trained and your business fire and security code compliant.