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Enjoying Summer Safely During COVID-19

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Jill Amsberry,DO

Many families are looking forward to summer — especially at a time when many aspects of normal life have changed. But you might be wondering how to get outdoors safely during COVID-19. Pediatrician Jill Amsberry, DO, shared some ideas on how to enjoy the sunshine while keeping everyone safe.

Q: With COVID-19, what are some important steps parents should take to keep their children safe this summer, now that distance learning is complete, and more time will be spent outside?

Dr. Amsberry: Having kids myself, I am so grateful we are now into those glorious Minnesota months where we can get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Getting kids (and adults) outside not only improves their physical health, but their mental health as well.

Summer with coronavirus will feel a bit different than in past years when we spent time at the pool, parks, barbeques, parades and parties. But different doesn’t have to mean worse. Now is an opportunity to find outdoor experiences that you may not have had the time to try when life was hectic and overscheduled. Some ideas include biking, family walks, nature hikes, scavenger hunts, setting up sprinklers, playing yard sports like soccer or cornhole, painting rocks, playing in the mud, picnics or taking time to read a story outdoors. You can even try backyard camping if you have the space.

Q: Is there a safe way to enjoy community amenities like playgrounds and pools?

Dr. Amsberry: The CDC advises against playing at playgrounds due to the fact they are often crowded and can be very challenging to keep clean (some little ones like to taste the slide instead of taking a ride). Many larger community pools will not be opening for the summer season. Smaller pools are fine to use if you avoid crowds (less than 10 people) and can keep a safe distance from others who are not members of your household. Regardless of what you do, don’t forget to stay safe by washing your hands when you return from your summer adventures.

Q: COVID-19 aside, what is one of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to kids safety during the summer?

Dr. Amsberry: Protecting you and your child's skin from the sun. Many people think that they need to get the highest SPF sunscreen, but anything between SPF 15 and SPF 50 is adequate. Anything over SPF 50 isn’t proven to be any more beneficial. The most important thing is that you’re applying sunscreen every couple of hours — regardless of the SPF.

Other protective measures include:

  • Hats
  • Clothing with a thick weave
  • Avoiding high sun hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • 99% UV protected sunglasses

View additional sun safety tips

Q: Why is it important for my child to wear a helmet while biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, etc.?

A: According to Project BrainSafe, helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injuries by upwards of 85% and brain injury upwards of 88%, and estimates state that 75% of bicycle-related deaths could have been prevented by wearing a properly fitted helmet. Most helmets in stores right now are safe to use. The helmet should fit snug. Two fingers between the chin strap and your chin is a good rule of thumb. It should sit where a visor would be if you were wearing a baseball cap — level with the ground.

See more helmet and bicycle safety tips from Project BrainSafe now.