The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and everyone is itching to get out and enjoy that beautiful sunshine — especially after a few months of quarantine and staying home to stay safe. But the numbers of COVID-19 cases are not encouraging. In fact, they're soaring. Just because we’re all ready to move on and shift gears into summer, we may be more likely to put ourselves and our loved ones at risk. Here are tips and strategies to help you stay safe while getting out to enjoy the Summer.
Whether you’ve been looking forward to a day on the beach or a campout in the woods, be careful about going anywhere that looks even remotely crowded. Remember, people are still catching and spreading COVID-19, with a good number of cases remaining asymptomatic. So social distancing is still your best defense against infection, and now is not the time to start letting your guard down. The easiest way to socially distance is to avoid crowds. Even if it means shifting your plans and suffering a bit of disappointment, stay away from any places where proper distancing could be difficult.
Try camping in little-known campgrounds or walking the trails that no one uses because they prefer the more popular places. This is your chance to get creative and look for the special hidden gems in your area.
It’s not too hard to keep distance if you're cruising around in a boat or on jet skis with just the people you live with. Find a place on the water that offers rentals by the day, unplug and start making some memories. Relax with the tides, play some games or bring a few fishing poles and take home a feast. If you're renting boats, just be sure to hit the rental place early to get in and get out before the afternoon crowds make that impossible, too.
Your new favorite retreat could be as close as your own backyard. Set up a basketball hoop or badminton net — maybe a ping pong table? — and get the whole family playing. Purchase an above-ground pool for your backyard. Or take on a gardening project and transform your yard into the perfect peaceful refuge. Dig up that water-guzzling lawn, build a few raised beds using stones, planks or wooden barrels and start your growing masterpiece. A combination of flowers and vegetables will provide both function and beauty.
If you do go looking for fun beyond your safety bubble, the last thing you want to do while you’re out is create unnecessary stops and interactions. Stay close to home to avoid being a vector for other regions. Be sure to pack your own drinks and snacks so you aren’t tempted to grab something while you’re out and use the restroom before you go.
A lot of recreational areas are opening back up, but some are hitting some snags. Check ahead of time with America’s State Parks before you make any plans to go hiking or camping. Unexpected problems could leave you scrambling to make last-minute changes to your itinerary, which isn’t the best position to be in when you’re trying to minimize travel.
No matter how you spend your summer, be safe about it. Keep your hands clean by washing regularly and using hand sanitizer and don't touch your face. Avoid touching commonly used surfaces like doorknobs, light switches and elevator buttons, and keep sanitizer on hand for times when a sink and soap aren’t available. Along with social distancing, this one step could make the difference in protecting your home from the pandemic. And one of the best things you can do for your family and community is to wear a mask. Transmission rates drop dramatically, allowing us all to go have fun more safely if we just take the time to put on a mask. Being out in the community comes with all sorts of responsibilities: don't drive on the sidewalk, stop for red lights, let the old woman go first, and now, please wear a mask.
COVID-19 might change the way we approach our summers, but we can still stay active and have fun. Stay smart, keep some distance from people outside your household and minimize the need to make pit stops for gas, water and food, then wear a mask and wash your hands. It’s been a wild year so far, so let’s do everything we can to relax, but let's take care to be responsible while we do.