As kids gradually return to parks, playgrounds, pools and beaches this summer, many parents have questions about how to keep their children safe and reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.
First, it is not yet known whether weather and temperature affect the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like those that cause the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months. This does not mean people can’t become sick during summer months, so people shouldn’t let their guard down.
Continue to take the usual safety precautions as recommended by pediatricians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 safety measures.
Teach children to wash their hands often and cover their coughs and sneezes with a bent elbow. Remind them not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth, where colds and viruses enter the body.
Also, families should continue wearing face coverings when out in public (don’t put a mask on a child under age 2), stay 6 feet away from anyone outside of the household, and avoid crowded places and group gatherings.
Follow these tips to stay safe this summer during coronavirus:
- Playgrounds. Outdoor areas generally require normal routine cleaning and do not require disinfection, states the CDC. Continue to practice social distancing in public parks and playgrounds. Children should wash their hands after playing on equipment and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Have extra hand wipes and sanitizer gel on hand.
- Swimming pools. According to the CDC, there’s currently no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs or water playgrounds. Proper disinfection of the water should kill the virus that causes COVID-19. Don’t share equipment like goggles and snorkels. When not in the water, wear face coverings (face coverings should not be worn in the water). As always, parents should keep their eyes on their child at all times.
- Trampolines and bounce houses. Many parents are purchasing trampolines, inflatables and other outdoor play equipment to keep their kids entertained this summer. Although these play sets can be fun to jump on, most trampoline injuries happen on home trampolines. It’s important to maintain adult supervision at all times.
- Outdoor activities and protective gear. With more children playing outside their homes rather than in camps this summer, make sure your child wears proper protective gear for each activity. This includes a proper-fitting helmet at all times when riding a bike or scooter, rollerblading/roller skating and skateboarding. Also, consider activities that allow children to keep a distance from others, including tennis, Frisbee, playing catch or kicking a soccer ball. Make children don’t share sports equipment with others outside their household.
- Cookouts/BBQs. Smart food handling can prevent problems during a cookout. Handwashing is essential before and after cooking. Use a cooler, don’t leave food out for more than an hour, and cook meats properly. Families should not share food and utensils with anyone outside the household. Also, always supervise children around fires and grills to avoid burns.
- Sun and heat. Even if a child is wearing a mask, parents should still apply sunscreen to the child’s face (the mask can shift) and body to prevent sunburn. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is (at least) SPF 30. Apply it 15-30 minutes before going outdoors, every two hours, and after swimming or sweating. Minimize time in the heat, take regular cool-off breaks and encourage children to drink water regularly. Parents should contact their child’s pediatrician if their child develops any skin rashes or signs of heat-related illness.
- Insect bites. Some mosquitos and ticks can spread disease (e.g., Zika virus, Lyme disease), but at this time, there is no CDC data to suggest that COVID-19 is spread by mosquitoes or ticks. The main way that coronavirus spreads is from person to person. Protective clothing and insect repellents can protect against insect bites and stings. Check children’s heads and bodies for ticks after being outdoors. Have an emergency care plan in place for known allergies.
For updates on COVID-19, check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.