The Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Resilience Forum, comprising public sector organisations across the South West has issued the following advice for Halloween:
With Halloween season fast approaching, families may be wondering whether trick or treating is worth the risk this year. The message is clear from the South West – stay at home and don’t turn Halloween into a Covid “nightmare on your street”.
Whilst traditional trick or treating will be a risky business given the need to follow the rule of six and the potential to spread the virus to different households, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Halloween safely at home, from spooky window dressings to ghostly film nights.
So this year, South West leaders are asking families to ditch the usual trick or treating plans and channel all their creativity into celebrating safely indoors as we all continue to do our bit to prevent the spread of coronavirus and keep infection rates low across the region.
Rachel Wigglesworth, the Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said: “Halloween is definitely not cancelled! We want people to know that there are plenty of ways that people can celebrate safely and have fun.
“This year is a different year in all respects and following the rules around social distancing whilst supervising young ones out and about could make the evening potentially a horror story for all the wrong reasons. We are strongly advising that families do not go trick or treating.
“Due to the rule of six, which applies both indoors and outdoors, traditional Halloween parties and social events cannot take place this year.”
Teenagers and young adults are being advised to make the most of technology and meet online for virtual parties or horror-themed quizzes instead of meeting in groups.
If you are getting dressed up or decorating your home make sure you do it safely. Fire and Rescue Services are urging people to use battery operated tealights instead of candles and to ensure Halloween costumes comply with flammability standards. It should also have a CE mark, which means the product complies with European health and safety requirements.
Darren Peters, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager, said: "This Halloween we would like you to have fun at home and stay safe. Carved pumpkins are a fun way to celebrate, but always use battery-powered candles or tea lights in your pumpkins instead of a real flame which can easily set fire to clothing, curtains and sofas.
"When it comes to dressing up at Halloween, be aware that fancy dress is dangerous around fire - costumes can burn very easily. Keep fancy dress well away from open fires, wood burners, cooking and candles."
You should always keep fancy dress costumes away from naked flames but if clothing does catch fire remember to:
- Stop! Don’t run - it will only make the fire worse! Protect your face
- Drop! Get down onto the floor
- Roll! With your arms above your head, roll over and over - this will put out the flames
Cool any burns immediately with cold water and call 999 if it is an emergency.
Enjoy Halloween at home
Here are a few ways you can safely celebrate Halloween at home:
Getting creative in the kitchen
Try making mummy sausages, chocolate witches' hats and spooky fingers. See the full recipes here.
Creating wicked windows
See who can create the scariest window in your street and arrange a prize for the winners.
Fancy dress party
Arrange a party online via Skype or Zoom and invite your friends and family. You may want to nominate a DJ to put together some terrifying tunes.
Virtual horror quiz
Send out your invites early and ask everyone to write ten questions each.
Throw in a music round of guess the horror movie theme tune. Extra points for the best fancy dress!
Dig out some truly terrifying classics and enjoy a scary movie marathon.
Telling scary stories
Encourage your children to write their own horror story and read it out loud in their spookiest voice. Turn off the lights and use a torch to set the scene.
Put together a Halloween play list and see who has the scariest moves.
Chief Superintendent Matt Longman from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Whilst we know how much families love dressing up and trick or treating we would strongly ask that you celebrate Halloween at home this year to help keep our communities safe.
“Following the ‘rule of six’ which applies both indoors and outdoors could make the evening a Covid nightmare for all the wrong reasons, so please don’t go trick or treating.
“Traditional Halloween parties and social events cannot take place this year, but that doesn’t mean Halloween is cancelled there are plenty of ways that people can celebrate safely and have fun.
“We are all getting used to speaking to friends and family online so we are encouraging young people to create online parties where they can invite as many people as they like. We are recommending that vulnerable people, download our ‘No trick, no treat, no meet, no greet’ poster to display in the front door or window of their homes. These can be downloaded from our website.”