A guide to staying safe outdoors as recreation areas reopen

05.28.2020

Many of us are ready to release pent-up energy and soak up some fresh air now that outdoor recreation spaces have reopened. The question is how to enjoy parklands, hiking trails and water areas safely and protect ourselves and others from the spread of germs.
 
When you head outdoors, bring along the hygiene basics you practice at home. State and local health experts as well as the Centers for Disease Control recommend you stay at least six feet away from others, wash hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, and use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available.
 
Here are other safeguards to put into play as you add outside activities to your routine.
 
Plan ahead. Make sure the recreational area you want to visit has reopened and know if it has temporarily limited hours. Also check if public services like bathroom facilities and food concessions have reopened.
 
Pack for play. Bring food, water and other essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering with you.
 
Stay close to home: Pick a place that's close by for a short adventure. The farther away you travel, the more risk you take of exposure to germs. Popular destinations also attract crowds – and that means contact with others that's too close for comfort.
 
Space out: Choose a trail or park area that's less traveled. Leave crowded spaces for another day.
 
Keep your distance: The six-foot separation rule still applies in the out-of-doors. Avoid gathering with others who live outside your household.
 
Play it safe during pool time. Swimming pools offer a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise and cool off on a hot summer day. Better yet, viral germs don't spread to people through pool water that's maintained properly, according to the CDC. Always remember to stay at least six feet from others, avoid large gatherings and keep up the personal hygiene habits.
 
Skip team sports. Choose an individual activity over group sports like basketball, baseball, soccer or football. Even though the open spaces call you, it's best to keep your distance from others who do not live with you.
 
Go around the playground. Swings, slides and climbing areas often attract crowds and collect germs. It's best to steer clear of play areas with equipment that isn't clean and disinfected. Remember a virus can spread when you (or your child) touch a contaminated surface, then touch hands to eyes, nose or mouth.