How to stay safe outside during COVID-19 pandemic?

Enjoy your time outside while following safe behaviours outside

UNICEF Azerbaijan
Ali, 8 years old and his friend Fuad cycling around their house in Binagadi.
UNICEF Azerbaijan/Bell/2018
17 March 2021

With the weather getting warmer and springtime around the corner, it is the best time to spend time outdoors both for parents and children. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic it is more than important to make sure to protect their family’s health while enjoying time outside. Consider this your short guide on safer outdoor fun!

Does COVID-19 spread outdoors too?

Yes, it does. COVID-19 can spread both indoors and outdoors, wherever you may come into close contact with an infected person. COVID-19 spreads mainly via respiratory droplets that are released from an infected person through coughing, sneezing, talking or singing – which can get into the mouth, nose or eyes of people who are nearby. Transmission is also possible, especially in poorly ventilated, crowded indoor places. Another common way of getting infected is touching mouth, nose or eyes, after touching contaminated surfaces.
Risk of transmission is considered much lower outdoors compared to enclosed indoor spaces based on what we know about the virus and its transmission. Also important are the precautions people follow – keeping at least one meter of distance, wearing a mask, frequently washing hands and identifying COVID-19 symptoms before going out.

What are the best ways of staying safe outside?

Physical activity is one of the best ways for every member of the family to keep mental and psychical health in best shape. By taking precautionary steps, you can help your family minimize the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

  • When planning to go outside, try to avoid the most crowded times and settings. Try to choose less used routes with less congestion wherever possible.
  • Keep a hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol, disinfecting wipes, tissues, extra masks and a bag or box to store the mask while not in use (e.g., while eating or drinking).
  • Do not forget to make sure all family members feel well and are symptom-free before going outside.
  • Remind each other to follow key precautions while outside.
  • Stay at least one metre away from others;
  • Wear a mask outside;
  • Do not touch your face (eyes, nose, mouth) or the mask surface;
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sanitizing your hands.
  • If you decide to eat outside, bring your own food and utensils. If you need to choose to eat outside, try to choose take-out rather than eating indoors. Don’t forget to wash or sanitize your hands before eating.
  • Once at home, before doing anything else, first wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

 

Spending time in a small group of close friends -  how to make a right decision on gatherings?

You have to make decision-based on your own situation. We compiled some key factors for you to consider before making decisions:

  • Check the local COVID-19 transmission rates and Government suggestions. Keep in mind that the higher the rate of transmission, the higher the risk of potential exposure is in public settings.
  • If you live with people who have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (older family members, grandparents, family members with underlying medical conditions), the whole family should take extra precautions to protect them. This may include limiting your children’s contact with other people (including playdates or crowded playgrounds), or if this is difficult (such as when children attending school), keeping your child apart from those family members wherever possible.
  • It is best to choose outdoors settings and keep it short whenever socializing in person. Make sure that your group is very small with the same family member or friend who practices everyday preventive measures as you do.

Make sure that you communicate your decision to your child in a simple way and take time to explain why you made that decision and why it matters. It’s important to keep open communication with your child. Encourage them to share any concerns and be honest if they didn’t follow the rules. This is important especially for older children and adolescents, who may be keener to socialize with peers. Try to guide and redirect them with empathy and compassion using scientific knowledge (sharing what is known and unknown). 

> Read: How to talk to your children about COVID-19
 

How safe it is to use a public toilet?

Since it is impossible to know beforehand how crowded or clean the public toilet will be, encourage your family to use the toilet before leaving your home and try to minimize using public ones. If you need to use a public restroom make sure you follow safe behaviours - keep your distance of at least 1 metre from others, wear a mask and wash your hands with soap and water immediately afterwards. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.

Is it safe for my child to go swimming?

There is currently no evidence that the COVID-19 virus can spread through natural bodies of water or recreational waters such as pools. When pools and beaches are allowed to be open in your community, here are some safety main points to consider before you plan your activity:

  • Location: Congestion, crowd and behaviours of others determine how safe the swimming area is.
  • Timing: Select a time when it is likely to be least crowded.
  • Your children’s age: How well will they maintain physical distance?   
  • Prevention measures: Check to see how well the swim area ensures measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus and other health hazards – steps taken to avoid crowding, cleaning and disinfection, ventilation of indoor space and safe water systems.

If you decide to go swimming, leave early if it starts to get crowded, minimize your time in enclosed spaces such as locker rooms, avoid eating in the swim area and supervise your child at all times.