With the weather warming up and things beginning to open publicly again following the global COVID-19 pandemic, many residents have found themselves antsy to get out of the house and return to some of their favorite activities outside. While physical activity is one of the best ways to help keep our bodies healthy – as well as our children’s bodies – rushing out to utilize shared spaces too soon or while unprepared to use them responsibly, can spell trouble for some. So, how do you keep kids safe as their favorite public places begin opening back up?
Returning to Pre-Pandemic Public Activities
As things begin opening back up, many parents will likely be wondering if it is safe to let their little ones return to their favorite public hang-out and what safety precautions they should be taking to ensure they stay healthy. With so many unknowns surrounding the pandemic, it’s not just understandable, but necessary, that parents know the risks and the best ways to safeguard their children as they begin returning to pre-pandemic “norms.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, returning to your local public parks and recreational facilities can be an important part of maintaining physical health, as long as certain guidelines and precautions are followed in the process.
“Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy. In many areas, people can visit parks, trails, and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, get some fresh air, and stay active… While these facilities and areas can offer health benefits, it is important that you follow (specified) steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the CDC explains.
How to Keep Kids Safe in Public after COVID-19
With our main concerns centered around the safety of our families, knowing how to shield our children from the dangers of the pandemic while opening back up to public interactions has been at the forefront of every parent’s mind lately. But just how do we allow our children to get back to their favorite public activities – safely?
The answer to that question begins with taking some informative steps first. As with anything, doing a bit of research before sending kids on a long overdue outdoor adventure can help ensure the highest chances of keeping them safe during uncertain times. Just as you wouldn’t send your child unaccompanied into a strange home, following the same mindset for post-pandemic public activity will help.
Taking Informative Steps
If you’re considering opening the doors to the great outdoors for your children now that the public is beginning to open up again, information is going to be your best line of defense. Staying informed of the latest information in your area will allow you to make the best possible decisions for your family as well as ensure you’re kept abreast of any new developments and safety protocols. In other words, stay safe by staying informed. Here are some of the most important ways you can stay in the loop of the latest news and guidelines surrounding public activity and your family’s safety:
- CDC Guidelines. Before heading out to any public location, whether with or without your children, it’s critical that you know and understand the most current CDC recommendations for safety in public. Checking what the current guidelines are will ensure you are able to take all necessary precautions as noted by health officials.
- Local Guidelines. In addition to the CDC’s recommendations, many communities and local authorities are imposing additional safety protocols in order to keep residents as safe as possible as we transition back to pre-pandemic public life. Check these regulations as outlined by the State of New Jersey Department of Health, as well as checking any additional regulations in place in your communities by looking at city social and governmental pages.
- Individual Guidelines. In addition to government regulations and requirements, many public places may be imposing certain guidelines of their own. Before venturing out to a particular park or recreational space, contact them in advance to understand and prepare your family with proper safety protocol before leaving the house.
Keeping Your Family Safe with General Health Practices
Overall, if you’re ever confused or in doubt about a particular safety precaution or public guideline, it’s always safest to err on the side of caution. In general, however, the CDC recommends some basic health practices be utilized at times in public in order to maintain the safety of our families as we phase back into an open public life. Keeping these health practices are the CDC’s most recommended way to stay safe during this time:
- Stay Close to Home. The further we travel for outdoor activity, the greater our risk becomes for being exposed to more potentially contaminated surfaces or infected individuals. Visiting recreational areas closer to home limits our travel and potential contact with these risks.
- Continue to Maintain a 6 Foot Distance from Others. As difficult as this may be in some public situations, maintaining a safe distance (6 feet, according to the CDC) will limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19. If maintaining social distance is difficult (children in playground spaces), try to stick to places that are less crowded or visit during less busy times of the day.
- Utilize Face Coverings. While face masks are not recommended for children under 2, older children should be using them while out in public areas – especially if there is difficulty maintaining a 6-feet-apart distance. This is one of the best ways to protect against potential contaminants.
- Handwashing and Sanitizing. Another important step is to make sure children are aware of the need to properly wash and/or sanitize their hands as well as keeping their hands away from their faces while they’re out. If this is particularly difficult, you may want to choose an activity that doesn’t involve potentially contaminated areas like playground equipment.
By following the recommended safety guidelines of our public health officials and local regulatory commissions, it’s possible to phase back into public life safely. Stay vigilant with the recommendations and any changing requirements in order to keep kids safe and healthy as we begin to come out of this pandemic.