For most people, summertime is full of sunshine, swimming and barbecues with family and friends. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a lot of people are wondering if it’s possible to go about these activities safely.
Yes, you still can enjoy a lot of summer’s signature activities. They’re just going to look a little different this year. It’s clear the actions New Yorkers have taken have worked to flatten the curve, but the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, which means we still have to take precautions. We’ll be dealing with the coronavirus throughout the summer and most likely into the fall and winter.
Experts at Crystal Run Healthcare have laid out all the necessary precautions you should take to ensure you, your family and your friends have a safe summer.
Social gatherings in the midst of a COVID-19 summer
COVID-19 has changed the way we function as a society. While it certainly put a wrench in a lot of plans, you still can enjoy your summer. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state, maintaining at least six feet of distance is key. For those instances when you can’t maintain distance, you should wear a mask.
When you get together with family and friends this summer, you should:
1. Keep the gatherings outdoors.
Staying outside allows for adequate airflow. If someone is pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic for COVID-19, keeping your distance and not being in a confined space will help reduce your risk for contracting the virus.
2. Make your get-togethers BYO — bring your own food and drinks.
As we’ve learned, respiratory droplets can wind up on people’s hands and those individuals can become infected if they touch their eyes, nose or mouth. Sharing serving utensils, plates and even food can increase the risk of respiratory droplets spreading between friends and family. That’s why you should bring your own food, drink and utensils so you can ensure you’re keeping your respiratory droplets to yourself, healthy or otherwise.
3. Have your mask and hand sanitizer handy.
Sometimes, distance isn’t possible even when outdoors and if you need to go to the bathroom, you’ll have to head inside and come in contact with frequently touched surfaces. Keep your mask handy to wear indoors, wash your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer after touching any surfaces or doorknobs on your way out.
We know it’s been a long journey, but it’s important to protect those closest to us by following these measures during summer get-togethers.
What about swimming?
The weather just keeps getting hotter, drawing more and more people to seek solace in a pool. Dr. Aslam Jangda, pediatrician at Crystal Run Healthcare, weighed in on what safety measures should be followed for swimming safely this summer.
“The good news is, there’s no evidence that the coronavirus can spread in pool water,” says Jangda. “It’s believed that the chlorine can inactivate or kill the virus. With this said, following these guidelines will help ensure your pool time is safe.”
Jangda recommends the following safety measures:Maintain six feet of distance in the pool or on the pool deck at all times from those who do not live with you.Follow local and state guidelines to determine when and how pools operate; including how many people can be present in a pool in accordance with its size.Minimize the number of surfaces being touched before getting into the pool and after getting out of the pool.Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available.Refrain from sharing towels or toys like volleyballs, beach balls, floaties, etc. Bring your own items to use in the pool and be sure to clean them when you get home.Make sure that the owners and operators of the pools, hot tubs, spas and water play areas you frequent are following the interim guidance for cleaning and disinfecting their water facilities.
Don’t sacrifice fun or peace of mind this summer. Gatherings with family and friends can be safe, just follow all the necessary precautions and make sure other attendees do the same.
Even during a pandemic, don’t forget sun safety
Spending more time outdoors is one of the benefits summer brings. While we’re all excited to spend time outside of our homes after quarantine, we can’t forget to protect our skin against the sun. Remember, no matter how good the sun feels, its rays can be harmful to your skin.
“As a board-certified dermatologist, I constantly advise my patients about sun avoidance and protection,” says Dr. Charles C. Kwak, dermatologist at Crystal Run Healthcare. “Sun exposure, over time, increases the risk of some of the most common skin cancers, such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma and is also linked to melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Rest assured, though the danger is real, there are many steps that we can take to prevent it."
Kwak recommends following these steps to enjoy the sun safely:
1. Apply sunscreen
Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before initial sun exposure and reapplied every two hours. If you go swimming you should reapply sunscreen immediately after being in the water. The American Cancer Society recommends a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection and a sun protection factor of at least 30. Certain types of makeup and lip balm offer 15 SPF protections. Please keep in mind sunscreen does expire.
2. Cover up
Certain types of clothing and accessories can help protect your skin from the sun. We recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection, and long sleeves and pants whenever possible. If long clothing isn’t practical, wear a T-shirt or cover-up combined with sunscreen.
3. Find shade
Find a shady area to limit direct exposure to the sun. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so coverage is highly recommended during those times. If you’re headed to the beach where shade isn’t available, try bringing a beach umbrella for some protection.
4. Avoid tanning
If you intentionally lay in the sun, even if you apply sunscreen, your skin is still at risk so it’s important to exercise caution and tan in moderation. The same is true for “fake” tanning; ultraviolet radiation in tanning devices poses serious health risks and in fact is more dangerous than previously thought. Exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or indoor tanning beds, can increase your risk of skin cancer and can cause skin burns, premature skin aging and even eye damage. The more you protect your skin now, the healthier it will be later.
Practicing safe sun is just one of the many important things to do this summer.
Pediatrics, dermatology and more than 50 other specialties at Crystal Run Healthcare
Crystal Run Healthcare is a multi-specialty practice with more than 50 specialties. We believe in a coordinated approach to care because of the endless benefits of having all of your providers and medical records in one place.
Our board-certified pediatric team is experienced in treating children of all ages, from infancy through adolescence. It’s important that even during the pandemic to keep up on your children’s well-child visits and vaccinations. If your child is falling behind, please visit crystalrunhealtcare.com to make an appointment today.
Summertime is also a great time of year to focus on skin safety. If you have a concerning mark or mole, you should get it checked by a dermatologist.
To learn more about Crystal Run Healthcare, visit crystalrunhealthcare.com and follow the practice on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.