Going outdoors is a favorite pastime of children and adults, but with the coronavirus a continuing threat, how can parents protect their children while enjoying being outdoors?
After almost a year of restrictions for children, the IATF finally has given the go signal that allows them to go outside of their homes. This is a big step for parents who are still cautious about the safety of their families. A lot of parents are eager to finally bring their children to enjoy the outdoors, and then some who seemed to have forgotten that we are still in a pandemic.
Being cooped up inside the homes has affected our children a lot. It affected their health as some had very limited physical activity, and most especially their mental health because of the anxiety and stress because of the adjustments they must make with online studying.
Most COVID19 infections have been in adults, but kids can be infected too. The virus can be mild in children or without any symptoms at all. But some babies and children have become very sick weeks after being infected. Kids below 2 years old cannot wear a mask or get a COVID19 vaccine, so protecting them also means avoiding activities that put them at risk.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we’re learning more about how to best protect ourselves. Basic steps to protection and how to stay safe outside your home include:
- Getting vaccinated
- Social or physical distancing
- Washing of hands often
- Wearing a mask
- Related: Top COVID-9 Vaccine Questions Answered: What You Need to Know
- Here are some of the common questions that you might think of or consider before bringing your children outdoors:
Can COVID19 spread outdoors?
Yes, COVID19 can spread outdoors contrary to what others may think; if you are out in an open space, you’re safe. The truth is far from it; however, the risk of infection may be lower compared to going to closed spaces like malls and restaurants.
Always keep in mind that the virus spreads mainly through respiratory droplets that are released from an infected person through sneezing, coughing, talking, or singing. People may also become infected by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth after touching surfaces that an infected person may have touched.
When is it safe for children to return to their activities?
Check with your local authorities about the current advisories regarding allowing children to go outdoors. If you live in an area where there is a high infection rate, it would take more from you to discern whether you should bring your child outside or not.
Keep playdates with other family members outdoors and avoid enclosed spaces like the malls and entertainment areas. The virus doesn’t spread as easily in open spaces as it would in smaller ones. Physical distancing is easier to maintain for you and your children than indoors. If you allow your kids to go play with other kids, consider limiting it to a few other children and encourage practicing health safety and physical distancing. Limit them to doing COVID-friendly activities for kids. Make sure your children clean up or wash their hands before coming inside the house.
Is it safe to use public restrooms?
As much as possible, encourage your family to use the restrooms before leaving home and minimize using public ones, because you don’t know how crowded it may be. If you need to use one, maintain a physical distance of about 1 meter away from others. Wear a mask and wash your hands with soap and water immediately after. If there’s no available soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% or alcohol.
Related: Covid-19 Myth Busters: Facts vs Fake News about the Coronavirus Disease
Can I put on a mask on my toddler?
Babies and toddlers below 2 years old should not wear a mask because:
- Their airways are smaller so breathing through a mask is hard for them.
- It’s hard for them to breathe and they cannot tell anyone to take off their covering or take it off themselves, so they could suffocate.
- Some homemade masks may have some pieces that they could choke on, like elastic bands or strings.
- They are very likely to remove the mask, so they’ll touch their face a lot. This increases their risk of catching and spreading the virus.
On top of the basic steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the coronavirus, here are more tips for going outside safely with children:
1. Be mindful about what you and your children touch when you’re outside or returning home. Kids are very active, and you might not be able to watch what they touch all the time. It would help a lot to talk to your older children about the dangers of the virus and how they can protect themselves.
2. Bring a hand sanitizer all the time so you can clean and sanitize you and your children’s hands if needed. You may not be able to find running water and soap nearby when you need it.
3. Choose the best outdoor space. Guess where the best place to go, your own yard! But that is an option for everyone. You should pick a place that’s not crowded, although that has become a problem recently as people and children started heading outdoors.
4. Maintain physical distance even while outdoors. The chances of you and your children catching something is less, but you can’t take any risk when it comes to your children.
5. Only go out with people you live with. Going out and meeting friends and relatives is a very welcoming thought and you might be tempted to do so, but it’s better to be safe. If possible, avoid meetings with people outside your household. You know the people you live with and who they’ve met. You can’t be as sure with the people outside your household.
6. Avoid touching things. This could be very challenging for kids as they won’t always remember your reminders. So as much as possible, no playing or playground equipment, sharing toys, sitting on benches, or similar activities. You don’t know who touched those or when. Hand sanitizers help when children forget and touch a lot.
7. Bring extra masks. Aside from the mask you and your children are wearing, don’t forget to bring extra. Masks could get soiled once you sweat, so it’s always good to have some fresh ones handy.
Getting vaccinated is the best protection you can get for yourself and for your family, especially those who can’t have it. Recently, the country has rolled out the vaccination drive for minors aged 12 -17 years old. Children with comorbidities in this age range can get their vaccine at the hospitals assigned by their local government unit. Children without comorbidities can get the COVID vaccine for minors through their local government unit. Take note of the vaccination sites and vaccination procedures in your area.
You can take your child to the doctor’s office for non-COVID related vaccines and other care or checkups. Clinics and hospitals go through intensive sanitation before they let anyone inside and the number of people is limited. It’s also important to follow the safety procedures when bringing your children to the doctor’s office. Don’t forget to call your doctor first and set an appointment for your visit.
The Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center is always here to provide guidance and support to our patients. Get vaccinated now and together we can help keep the numbers down and protect ourselves and our loved ones from getting sick. If you think you might be infected and need a swab test, please call our hotline at (02) 8711-4141 local 372/373/379 or send us an SMS / Viber message at +639955442347.