7 tips for going outside safly with your children during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Amir Petrus Dawood

We are battling two enemies here: One is COVID-19; the other is the anxiety about COVID-19. Kids are particularly susceptible to this. Watch your words and tone. Stay calm. Reassure children that this is temporary and that they, and their caregivers, are going to be simply fine.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, getting outside can be a great idea for both the physical and mental health of you and your family, but as with everything else these days, going outside needs to be done safely. Here are seven tips for what you need to think about as you put on your shoes and head outdoors.

1. Be careful about what you touch as you go outside or return home. For those who live in single-family homes this is not a big deal, but if you live in a shared building, you need to be careful about things like elevator buttons and doorknobs that others touch. Make a game of it so your kids don’t touch — pretend that surfaces (including walls) are hot — and wear gloves or bring a paper towel or tissue so you can hit those buttons and touch doorknobs.

2. Bring hand sanitizer, so that you can wash hands while you are out, if needed.

3. Choose the best outdoor space. Your own yard is best, but that is not an option for everyone. Ideally, you should go somewhere where you will not encounter lots of other people.

4. Keep up the physical distancing while you are outdoors. The chances of you catching something from someone as they pass you is quite small, but it is best to give the widest berth you can.

5. Only go outdoors with the people you live with. It is tempting to join another family for a walk, but it’s hard to keep six feet between you — and children may have a particularly hard time with this.

6. Do not touch stuff. So, no playing on playground equipment, sitting on benches, sharing balls, or touching signposts or mailboxes or anything else. You just do not know who has touched it or when. Having the hand sanitizer helps when children and others forget.

7. Bring masks along. Hopefully, they will stay in your backpack with your water bottles and snacks, but if keeping physical distance between you and others becomes difficult at any point, you can whip them out and put them on. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 2 shouldn’t wear masks for safety reasons, but everyone else should have a mask — or some other face covering — on hand just in case.

It sounds like a lot, but it’s not — and it’s completely worth doing so that you can all get out of the house, get some exercise, have some fun, and feel a bit more normal.

References:: American Academy of Pediatrics, Health Harvard edu, PBS news

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