How to keep your child safe this summer during COVID-19

June 18, 2020 | by Jennifer McNulty, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

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 you can’t become sick during summer months, so you shouldn’t let your guard down.

Continue to take the usual safety precautions as recommended by your child’s doctor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 safety measures.

Teach your 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, your family 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 your household, and avoid crowded places and group gatherings.

Follow these tips to keep your family 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. Have your children 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, keep your eyes on your child at all times. Learn how to keep your kids safe in the water.

  • 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. What you should know about trampolines and bounce houses.

  • 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/ rollerskating and skateboarding. Also, consider activities that allow your child to keep a distance from others, including tennis, Frisbee, playing catch or kicking a soccer ball. Make your child doesn’t share sports equipment with others outside your household.

  • Cookouts/BBQs. When you’re enjoying an outdoor meal, smart food handling can prevent problems. Always wash your hands before/after cooking. Use a cooler, don’t leave food out for more than an hour, and cook meats properly. Don’t share food and utensils with anyone outside your household. Also, closely supervise children at all times around fires and grills to avoid burns.

  • Sun and heat. Even if your child is wearing a mask, you should still apply sunscreen to your 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 your child to drink water regularly. Call your child’s doctor if your 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 your child’s head and body for ticks after being outdoors. Have an emergency care plan in place for known allergies.

As kids are playing outside, innocent fun can result in cuts/scrapes, sprains/strains and broken bones.

Hopefully you’ll be able to avoid injuries and illness, but if an emergency happens, Edward-Elmhurst Health Emergency Departments are open and ready to help while keeping you safe.

Don’t let fear of the virus stop or delay you from getting your child medical care. Call 911 if the situation is life-threatening. Otherwise, head to the ER. Read our Safety Commitment.

Learn more about pediatric emergency care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

For updates on our planning and response efforts as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

Get more information about coronavirus from Healthy Driven Chicago.

The information in this article may change at any time due to the changing landscape of this pandemic. Read the latest on COVID-19.

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