Halloween Safety Tips and Best Practices

City of Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
City of Alameda

Halloween Safety Tips and Best Practices

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

With Halloween just around the corner, how can we keep Halloween celebrations from becoming “super spreader events?” Fortunately, as of September 27, 81.5% of Alameda residents 12 years and older were fully vaccinated, and 94% had received at least one dose. Additionally, the number of new COVID cases in our community continues to decline. But, we don’t want those numbers to go up again as we navigate the Delta variant, with no vaccination yet for children under 12. Local healthcare providers offer these Halloween Best Practices:

“Halloween can be done safely if people take proper precautions,” says local pediatrician Dr. Lisa Turman Siskind, adding, “The good news is Halloween is mostly outside.” Dr. Bobby Deutsch, an Alameda Health Systems pulmo-nologist and Dr. Turman Siskind recommend that trick-or-treaters stay outside and not enter homes or indoor parties and activities. Families handing out candy could set up tables outside, maybe at the end of a walk or driveway, so kids don’t even need to go to a door.

Hosts should drop packaged candy into trick-or-treaters’ bags, avoiding hand to hand contact, says Dr. Deutsch who notes that guidelines for Halloween are essentially the same as CDC guidelines for all interactions: maintain physical distance, wash hands frequently, and wear masks.

Trick-or-treating family members and people handing out candy should all wear masks, says Dr. Turman Siskind. Dr. Deutsch reminds parents that a costume mask alone is not sufficient protection: be sure your child wears a mask under any facial costume.

The greatest Halloween risk is to our kids under 12 who can’t be vaccinated yet (hopefully coming very soon), notes Dr. Turman Siskind, so parents of young children should choose wisely. For example, avoid crowded streets and areas like Grand Street and the “Christmas Tree Lane” block of Thompson Avenue where there are traditionally lots of people.

Ghoulishly good news: Halloween can be done safely this year with everyone masked and outside, and families making smart decisions.

Don’t neglect your health: Dr. Mini Swift, an Alameda Health Systems physician and Mayor’s Vaccine Task Force member, reminds us to schedule health screenings and health maintenance tasks we postponed during the pandemic. This includes mammograms, blood panels, and flu shots, and routine vaccinations for our children. Early detection of any concerning condition allows more opportunities for successful out¬comes, so schedule that appointment today. Take care of yourself!

We need to talk about our driving: In early September, 27 year-old Alameda resident Nick Bianchi was killed when a speeding vehicle driven by an individual under the influence ran a stop sign and crashed into his vehicle. In June, 87 year-old Alameda resident Fred Zehnder was crossing the street in a crosswalk when he was struck and killed by a truck driven by a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Both residents leave behind families and friends shattered by the senselessness of their untimely deaths.

What can be done about drivers speeding on our streets, ignoring stop signs, running red lights? How you avoid causing a tragedy? Alameda Police Chief Nishant Joshi offers these reminders to help us all safer drivers:

1) Speeding, DUI, and distracted driving are among the top collision factors in the U.S.

2) Alameda Police Department prioritizes public safety and focused on dangerous vehicle code violations, including speeding. Violators can anticipate speeding citations.

3) With school back in session, more pedestrians and bicyclists using crosswalks and bicycle lanes. Please be especially cautious when you approach an intersection because it is more difficult to see a person than to see another vehicle.

4) We can be one of the safest cities in the Bay Area if everyone does their part. This includes better planning: Earlier departure times reduce the stress associated with arriving late, and the temptation to speed. And it is always better to arrive late than to put our community at risk by speeding.

Other cities, including Bend, Oregon are also grappling with driving-related deaths and injuries. Bend Mayor Sally Russell recently observed that last year, her county experienced the most traffic fatalities in more than 10 years, despite a significant drop-off in traffic volumes. Mayor Russell notes that bicyclists and pedestrians are especially at risk of traffic deaths and injuries, as are young drivers. But significantly, statistics show that the risk of fatalities could be reduced by more than two-thirds, if drivers do these four things:

Slow down
Drive sober
Buckle up
Pay attention

Anyone who operates a moving vehicle has an obligation to do so safely, even when there’s no law enforcement presence. Let’s all commit to being better, more attentive, patient, and calmer drivers. Our lives, and the lives of others, depend on it.

Stay safe and healthy this Halloween season and beyond. And stay Alameda Strong!