Bobbing for Bacteria: Keep Your Kids Healthy This Halloween

October 21, 2013
by Michael Barber
Bobbing for Bacteria: Keep Your Kids Healthy This Halloween

With Fall, comes cold and flu season, and one of our children's favorite holiday: Halloween. Passing germs or other bacteria is pretty easy to do during this time of the year so what should your kids avoid and how can you keep you them healthy?

Related: 6 Halloween Tricks and How to Treat Them

Bobbing for Apples Not Your Best Bet

Although a tradition and fun for many, the germs from saliva left in the bobbing bowl will spread from child to child. suggests using a vegetable brush to clean apples if you absolutely must stick to this tradition and change the water often.

Germs mean kids can get sick with colds or the flu and if they haven't received their flu shot from an urgent care clinic, these germs will spread fast. It's Written on the Wall offers 23 alternative games to try this Halloween and skip the apple bobbing.

Digging for Treats

Some families buy loose candy like candy corn, chocolate malt balls or gummy bears and allow kids to just grab a handful and place in their trick or treat bags. With all the little hands going in and out of these bowls, it's just another venue for germs to spread.

Think of the amount of items children touch when trick or treating, and then consider how easy it is to catch a cold or flu. If it's cold outside, have your child wear gloves. If the weather's warmer, you can still find thin black and white gloves and place embellishments on them to keep the germs away. Instruct children not to eat candy while they're out during the evening. Make this task easier by feeding them dinner before heading out.

Related: 5 Halloween Candy Myths: What's Real and What's Not?

Trying on Hats and Wigs

Almost all pre-schools and elementary schools send out notes each year about lice or lice breakouts. A quick way for your child to get lice is trying on hats and wigs in costume and big box stores, think of all the other heads they've been on.

When costume shopping, even for those one-piece costumes that may have been tried on by many kids, have your child wear a shower cap before placing the hat, wig or hood on their head. If your child does get lice, look for an urgent care center near you and obtain instructions on how to treat lice.

Clean Hands Frequently

Carry antiseptic wipes or gel with you and have your child clean their hands often during the evening to stop germs from spreading.

Once home, both you and your child should wash your hands completely. The CDC offers a great how-to on how to properly clean hands so they're germ free.

Exchanging Masks

It's tempting for children to try on another's mask if offered. This is also a great way to spread bacteria and germs.  Talk to your children and tell them how easily germs spread. When you're at retail clinics that offer family care, ask nurses and doctors to talk to your children about how germs spread during Halloween activities to help them better understand how easy it is to catch a cold or the flu.

Related: 6 Dangers of Halloween That Should Really Scare You

Following these five tips will help prevent germs from spreading, but there is no sure-fire way to prevent your children from catching a cold or flu completely. Your best bet for the flu is a flu shot. If your child catches a cold after trick or treating ask a doctor at your nearby walk-in clinic if there is medication they can take to shorten the duration of the cold.