Practicing Outdoor Summer Safety During COVID-19

Contributed by Brandi Fitch

 

With summer months approaching fast, many individuals are starting to get anxious, ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. However, there is still cause for concern about being outside during the COVID-19 pandemic and how to properly stay safe. While you should feel free to soak up the warm weather and get some fresh air, there are ways that you can enjoy yourself while practicing social distancing!

Be sure to only enjoy the outdoors with those in your home and don’t meet up with large groups or carpool with others. Additional ways to practice social distancing while enjoying the outdoors include:

  • Avoid crowded trails or parks
  • Don’t touch your eyes and face, and use hand sanitizer regularly
  • Try to only visit areas within 15 minutes of your home
  • Wear a mask while outdoors to protect yourself and others
  • Don’t use playgrounds, as it can be difficult to keep surfaces clean and disinfected
  • Be sure not to visit parks if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19
  • If you do visit parks, prepare by checking with parks to confirm which areas and services are open and safe to visit
  • Remember, state and local authorities will decide whether natural bodies of water and beaches or swim areas are open
  • Swimming pools are safe to use as long as you are not sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and practice social distancing while having fun!   
  • Stay six feet apart!

For more information, visit the CDC’s website on how to practice social distancing while outdoors. Also, check out WellSpan Health’s “Mindfulness Walk” audio to listen to for a more peaceful walk outdoors!

The majority of individuals are focused on how to stay safe from COVID-19, yet we can’t forget that while we are starting to venture outdoors to enjoy the approaching summer weather, we also need to take the necessary precautions to stay safe from the sun and bugs by using sun block and bug spray. There were nearly 5.4 million cases of skin cancer in 2019. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%. Get screened early, and always make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself!

When heading outdoors, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Use bug spray repellents with 20% or more DEET to prevent mosquito and tick bites that transmit illnesses like Lyme Disease.
  • Avoid contact with ticks by avoiding wooded and brushy areas with high grass and walking in the center of trails.
  • After coming indoors, check your hair and clothing for ticks. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing. Cold and medium temperate water will not kill ticks. Don’t forget to check your pets!
  • Showering within two hours of coming indoors has shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme Disease. Find more information from the CDC on preventing tick bites here.
  • Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+ at least 15 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours or 40 minutes when in water.
  • When applying sunscreen, use about 1 oz. (about a handful) to cover your arms, legs, neck and face. Don’t forget about your ears, hands, feet, and underarms!
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses and cover up with long sleeves when outdoors to avoid getting sunburn. Seek shade specifically between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Always Spray, play, and repeat!

Find more information on preventing mosquito bites here and on this flyer from the CDC. The American Cancer Society provides an informative infographic on preventing skin cancer here.

This summer will definitely look different compared to past seasons, but you can still have fun and enjoy yourself responsibly by social distancing and wearing bug spray and sunscreen!