After doing their part and staying home for months to keep themselves and others safe from coronavirus, is it finally time for your kiddos to return to the playground? Your kids may be eager to get back to climbing, swinging and other monkeybar-business—and you might be just as eager to get out of the house.
But is it safe to take kids to the playground right now, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise again? Experts have offered a few tips on how to safely navigate the playgrounds during the coronavirus pandemic.
Here's what you need to know before you go to the playground, and how to play safely once you're there.
How to know whether it's safe to go to the playground
Are cases on the rise in your community?
Experts agree that while there's no such thing as a "risk-free" activity this summer, the top consideration when deciding whether an activity is safe or not is whether there is a high level of virus activity in your community. If there's a lot of community spread in your area, the safest place for kids to play is at home.
Does your household include any individuals who are especially at risk?
If you have any elderly, pregnant or immunocompromised household members, it's safer to play at home than at the playground.
Are playgrounds in your area open?
This may seem like an obvious one, but make sure to check your community's parks department website or social media handles before you head out to make sure you're not met with a locked gate—and a lot of disappointment.
If you're ready to head to the playground, here are 6 tips to keep you and your family safe.
1. Visit at off times, and limit the length of your stay.
When making a trip to the playground, try to go at times when it will not be busy, and plan to visit for no more than an hour at a time. Typically, it is best to go early in the morning or late afternoon. Try to avoid lunchtime visits or times you know there will be large crowds so you can minimize your interaction with others.
Manage expectations beforehand by letting children know there's a limit on playtime: "We'll be here until 10:30, and when I say it's time to go, it's time to go. Have fun!"
2. Wear a mask + bring extras.
Although you will be outside, it is still important to wear a mask especially if you cannot maintain a safe social distance. It doesn't hurt to bring a few extras in case they rip or get sweaty from your little ones playing. The CDC recommends children over 2 years old wear a cloth face covering to decrease the chance of spreading the virus—and experts have suggestions for how to keep kids comfortable in a mask, even on hot days.
3. Do not plan to eat at the playground.
Bringing snacks to the playground may seem like Parenting 101, but kids may be tempted to touch their face with unwashed hands while eating. It's best to avoid snacking altogether while you're at the playground, and save those tasty treats for when you're home.
4. Bring water + avoid drinking fountains.
Be sure to come with your own water to stay hydrated. Avoid drinking fountains if possible, but if you must use one be sure to sanitize hands afterward. Speaking of which...
5. Bring sanitizer.
You won't have access to soap and water at the playground, but you can still use hand sanitizer frequently. It is inevitable that kids' little hands will get dirty touching the play equipment, so try to sanitize as frequently as you can. The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol-based to best combat germs and avoid getting sick.
6. Closely monitor your child to ensure they're keeping a distance from other children.
Mamas, we know it's difficult to keep you kids away from other kids when they're playing. However, it's important to make sure they're maintaining a safe distance when possible. The playground will still be just as fun while practicing social distancing.
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