By Nicole Nielsen

(CBSDFW.COM) – Families are being urged by local health officials this year to take proper precautions to keep Halloween from causing another rise in COVID-19 cases.

Though the evening usually includes candy and friends, public health expert associate Erin Carlson says we may need to get creative with our traditions.

“Traditional Halloween activities will of course be a bit riskier this year,” Carlson said.

Tarrant County is urging parents who plan to participate this year to place candy on steps or spread pieces around their property to keep people socially distant. While Dallas County warns families to avoid the activity altogether, which Carlson says isn’t realistic.

“It’s not realistic. People are going to do Halloween anyway so we might as well make it safe,” Carlson said.

She says if you go door to door, medical masks should not replace costume masks if you can’t manage to wear both. She also says to stay outside as much as possible, always socially distance and stay with family.

“Trick or treat with those in their own household. Let’s try not to mingle households any more than we have too,” Carlson said.

Once you finish, Carlson recommends you clean your hands and wipe down candy, since you don’t know who else has touched it. It’s not only important to protect you from COVID-19, but also the flu.

“Viruses can live on surfaces, for days in some cases,” Carlson said.

But if you want to avoid interaction outside the family altogether, there are also alternative activities like baking or movie nights. She also said to consider planning a socially distant trunk-or-treat with neighbors or use tables lined up at a nearby park.

“It’s not just about us… we must act responsibly in order to protect the health of our North Texas community,” Carlson said.

If you’re an at-risk household and don’t want to participate, she recommends you turn off your lights or put a sign on the door letting people know. But she says her best advice is to keep taking all the precautions you’ve been taking, and then some.

Nicole Nielsen