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Summer Safety During COVID-19

Healthy Lifestyle
Published: June 15, 2020


By now, quarantine fatigue is likely setting in. You may be itching to hit up the nearest patio bar, and your kids, the nearest splash pad. But with the spread of COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing, you’re probably hesitant to dive in to such activities. What’s safe? What’s not? Can you have your summer and enjoy it, too? With the proper precautions, the answer is: yes.

Use the thermometer next to each frequently asked question to gauge the risk of each activity. Yellow equates low risk. Red equates high.
 

Is it safe to take the kids to a neighbor’s pool? A public pool?

If your kids are being mindful of social distancing, the risk of swimming right now is fairly low. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread through water in pools and hot tubs. In fact, it’s believed that certain chemicals – like chlorine – may actually kill the virus in water. Just encourage your kiddos to keep a safe distance – something that may be more difficult at public swimming pools.

Use your best judgement and supervision. And remember: COVID-19 isn’t your only threat while swimming. Make sure everyone is applying sunscreen liberally, and brush up on these five drowning prevention tips.


What about a playground?

Even though many parks and playgrounds have reopened, the CDC is still advising that you skip the public slides, swings and splash pads.

This time of year, playgrounds are usually crowded, and it’s nearly impossible to keep the equipment clean. Touching contaminated surfaces – such as monkey bars, rock walls and sprayers – can easily aid in the spread of the virus, especially because children are more prone to touching their eyes, noses and mouths frequently.

For now, vow to spend more time playing with your kids on their own swing set, make a cardboard fort, or take them on a nature hike. Get creative! They’re much more willing to get outside and play if you play with them.


The weather’s been perfect for a backyard barbeque. Can we invite the neighbors?

This all depends on the number of neighbors you invite and how diligent they’ve been with social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions. Try to keep the grill-out to 10 people or less or one other household. Avoid sharing food – especially buffet-style – drinks, plates and serving utensils.

And don’t forget: People tend to let their guard down when alcohol’s involved. Drinking too much may cause some people to ignore or forget the 6-foot recommendation. But if everyone plays it safe, the risk is relatively low.

 

We’re considering a road-trip this summer. Should we feel OK staying at a hotel?

Just be smart. Call ahead and ask about the hotel’s cleaning policies and whether they’ve done anything to ramp up their guest-protection efforts in response to COVID-19. Bring your own disinfecting wipes and wipe down high-touch areas – including light switches, lamps, door handles, remote controls and telephones – once you arrive.

No matter where you travel, be prepared. Have plenty of sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol on hand, and practice frequent handwashing.

Try to avoid places where other guests may gather: the lobby, gym, bar and restaurant. For meals, consider ordering room service or delivery from a nearby restaurant. The more of your own snacks you can pack, the better.


Wait. So is restaurant dining not safe?

Area restaurant owners are trying their best to implement the safest practices possible. Many have scaled back the number of guests they’re currently allowing, ensuring plenty of space between tables. Many are also increasing their cleaning efforts while requiring all employees to wear masks. But guests, as we know, can’t wear masks when they’re eating and drinking.

Aside from that, restaurants are home to congregating, talking, laughing and the occasional cough or sneeze. Being around all those things for an extended period of time puts you at greater risk than if you were to quickly walk in to pick up a take-out order.

If you really miss dining out, opt for patio seating with plenty of space between other tables. If for some reason your server isn’t wearing a mask, it’s OK to ask them to. And it’s a good idea to wear yours whenever possible.
 

We were invited to an outdoor wedding celebration. Does wearing a mask provide enough protection?

Even though many wedding, graduation and family reunion celebrations are taking place outdoors right now, here’s what’s usually not taking place: proper social distancing. These parties often entail a lot of dancing, drinking and conversing – typically happening closer than 6 feet apart for prolonged periods of time. A cloth mask may not be enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Same goes for outdoor sporting events and concerts.

Remember: Many people are asymptomatic. It takes just one person to infect several others. The more people present – especially those from other cities and states – the greater the risk. And if you are planning an event, consider doing what many are doing right now and postpone it.

If you have additional questions or concerns during this time, contact your Methodist health care provider. We, too, want you to enjoy summer with your family in the safest ways possible.

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Stephen Tetrault

About the Author:

Dr. Stephen Tetrault, a family medicine physician at Methodist Physicians Clinic Hawthorne Court, sees the importance in creating strong relationships and believes it’s key to providing quality care. He also values preventive medicine, wanting to see patients when they’re sick and when they’re well.

See More Articles by Stephen Tetrault