(WBTW) – Halloween this year may look more normal than last. While its tempting to enjoy the day like ghouls and goblins, doctors and law enforcement remind everyone to keep health and safety in mind this Halloween weekend.
Doctors remind everyone that with the fall comes fall illnesses.
Dr. Lucretia Carter, the pediatric medical director at Tidelands Health, says certain illnesses are usually seen more around Halloween, as the weather cools off and children return to school. “we see rises in cases of RSV and sometimes the beginning of flu, sometimes strep throat. Just because kids are now in school and sort of mingling with one another.”
Dr. Carter says if your child is feeling ill around Halloween, and potentially showing COVID-19 symptoms, they should be tested.
“We want to make sure that they are not putting other people at risk,” says Dr. Carter, “but also check for other things as well. They certainly could have many other illnesses, but you want to make sure that they’re healthy so that they are not putting themselves and other people at more risk.”
One thing you can do to help make sure you’re not putting people at risk, is something Dr. Carter says you may already do Halloween night – wear a mask with your costume.
“The great thing about Halloween is it’s one of the holidays that you can dress up and you can wear a mask and not look different,” says Dr. Carter. When you wear the mask may depend on where you are celebrating the spooky day.
“If we are outside, going the traditional trick or treating, it’s a great time because we don’t have to be as concerned with wearing our masks because we know that the transmission of COVID-19 is much less in outdoor, well ventilated spaces,” says Dr. Carter. “If you are trying to do an activity indoors and you can’t avoid close contact with others, then that’s a situation where you want to make sure you wear a mask.”
Dr. Carter says children two years and older should be masked in those situations. Another thing to consider? Vaccination status.
“This is a difficult time where you don’t necessarily know who may be vaccinated or not,” Dr. Cater says. “…if you are eligible to get the vaccine absolutely, please make sure you’re vaccinated and if you’re not please make sure you’re wearing your mask.”
She stressed the importance of remembering to take those COVID-19 precautions. “we can only prevent the spread of the illness if we are doing everything that we can to help prevent that spread,” Dr. Carter stressed. “So we can’t control other people but we can control what we do and what we do in public spaces.”
We all know a big part of the Halloween celebration is the candy. Both Dr. Carter and Horry County Police want you to be safe with the sweet treats. First, if your children are going out by trick-or-treating without an adult, Horry County Police encourage them to stay in a group.
Dr. Carter says if you are trick-or-treating and see a large group ahead of you at someone’s doorstep, wait until they walk away before going up to get your candy.
Dr. Carter also says “You want to go for and allow your kids to maybe participate in the candies that are individually wrapped and not something that’s been grabbed over by a bunch of different people.”
She also says parents and guardians should inspect the candy your child brings home, something Horry County Police echo.
“Just make sure as the parents take your kids candies and make sure its legit candy and not been messed with,” Lance Corporal Chris Nguyen, a community outreach officer with Horry County Police, says.
If you do happen to find candy in your child’s haul that is suspicious or unsafe, LCpl. Nguyen says you can all the non-emergent phone line at 843-248-1520. Tell dispatch what is going on and they’ll send an officer out to you to pick up the candy. Also, try to remember which route you take while you are out trick-or-treating, so officers can figure out a location of where the candy came from.
If you are an adult planning to celebrate Halloween, LCpl. Nguyen reminds you to be smart.
“It’s a great to go out and have fun,” says LCpl. Nguyen. “I know people want to drink. If you do see yourself drinking, don’t get behind the wheel. Call an Uber or a Lyft; stay at the place you’re at. It’s never a good day to drink and drive. There are kids out there, out in road, walking. If you are impaired, you may hit a kid or adult.”
Something else Horry County Police want you to reconsider, is any pranks you may have planned.
“We see a lot of 911 hang up calls, a lot of people knocking on doors and running,” says LCpl. Nguyen. “We also see people throwing things at cars or houses, whether it be eggs or toilet paper.”
Police say what you may consider to be friendly fun may turn into something dangerous or criminal.
LCpl. Nguyen explained. “Let’s say you are throwing eggs at house. You can damage somebody’s paint in that way or put a dent in the house or break a window. Then you can be charged for malicious damage. That’s a misdemeanor charge…[meaning] court fines and possibly jail time.”
You may see more police officers around this Halloween weekend, in neighborhoods around the county.
“Some may have their lights on, so you can spot them very easily. So, if you need help, they are there,” LCpl. Nguyen says. “Also, if you see an officer out in the neighborhood, stop by and say hey to them. They may possibly have some candy in the car for the kids they can hand out to them.”
Horry County Police also remind you to be observant to what’s going on around you. Make yourself visible to others, by wearing something light-colored or carrying a flashlight or glowsticks.