Science Says Sunday – Summer Safety

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This past week I was asked by Univision Noticias to give insight into what people should do as states begin to lift stay-at-home orders. Many people are interpreting this in two main ways:

  1. That everything is fine now and we’re good to go “back to normal”. While that would be amazing, in many states, we’re not quite there yet. In fact, some states in the US – Alabama included – are just now starting to surge, with an increase of cases seen daily. Here’s a good link where you can determine how your state is doing and determine what activities are safe to resume if you are still seeing a lot of COVID-19 activity in your state:
  2. That lifting the orders happened too soon and the state is not ready for a return to “normal”. This may be the case in states where there hasn’t yet been a decrease in case and death counts. This applies to Alabama. In this case, people want to know how they go grocery shopping, for example, safely, since a lot more people are out and about now.

Either way, you’re likely experiencing what many are calling “quarantine fatigue”. You haven’t seen your friends, your family, your coworkers, or your neighbors. You likely haven’t been to a restaurant or movie theater in months. Perhaps you, like me, have only been out of the house for essential items and the occasional takeout meal and then straight back to the safety of your family and/or home. With the lifting of stay-at-home orders, and honestly a completely disregard by some to follow public health recommendations, it is highly uncertain if we will ever get this virus under control, so we need to figure out ways to start to find some normalcy in our lives, while being SAFE. How do we do that?

Below are two great articles that describe the risk associated with a number of activities that you may consider this summer.

From Camping To Dining Out: Here’s How Experts Rate The Risks Of 14 Summer Activities

How to weigh the risk of going out in the coronavirus pandemic, in one chart (see below)

Table showing how different places present more risks during the coronavirus pandemic: Your home is the safest place. Outdoor environments present moderate and higher risk. Indoor spaces with people you don’t live with present the highest risk.

The bottomline is that you should try to avoid the three C’s:

COVID-19 Information and Resouces

Crowded places

Closed spaces

Close-contact settings

This means that outdoor activities can provide some much needed reprieve this summer. Go for a bike, a run, a hike, perhaps an not so crowded lake or body of water, to get some fun in the sun and some much needed activity. Here are some tips that have been adapted from the CDC, Seattle Children’s, and the NIH.

Sun Safety

  • Protect yourself and your children from getting too much sun. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so be extra careful during that time.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30 and apply 30 min before going outside or in the water. Reapply every two hours and after being in the water or sweating. This one is tough with littles, so be creative about this step. Often, this is a good time to go over pool/beach/lake rules.Choose one that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Keep children under 1 out of the sun as much as you can. Dress babies in lightweight, light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants, and always cover their head.
  • Note that when it is 90° or above and humid, it is recommended that children should not play outside or exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time. This means you should…

Travel Safety

  • Always wear a seat belt and strap kids into an age/weight/height appropriate seat accordingly. You can always check with your pediatrician about what that seat may be, and stop by the fire department if you need help fitting one into your rear seats.
  • Never leave children alone in a car, even for a minute. Children left in cars are at risk for heat stroke, which can lead to death. Other risks are setting the car in motion and getting injured by playing with power controls.

Riding Safely

  • Wear a helmet! Make sure kids wear one as well.
  • Teach kids about road safety, especially those who will be allowed to ride around in the neighborhood this summer. Look both ways, look for cars…they may not see you!

Water Safety

  • Never leave children alone in or near the water, even for a minute. You have to watch kids, but also adults closely. The latter is especially important when drinking. Lots of horrible accidents happen on boats when people are drinking and having a good time on lakes/oceans, etc. Be diligent. Call 800-336-BOAT for additional information on boating safely.
  • Make life jackets a cool thing to wear! Even the most experienced swimmers can tire, so when in doubt, and when in groups, especially with kids, consider wearing a life jacket.


  • Continue to wear a mask when going out of the house, wash your hands frequently, and continue to practice physical distancing from others.
  • Outdoor is best, and continue to limit interactions outside your household if possible. Some, done safely (refer to chart) may be possible, but stay vigilant.
  • Finally, we are all witnesses to the injustices faced by the African American community in the past weeks, months, years. This week you may have heard about many protests and you may be wondering, what about COVID-19? Hats off my to my friend and colleague who put together these recommendations for keeping safe while protesting:

Continue to be safe friends. We’re in for a long summer, but together, we will get through this. I close with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

The time is always right to do what is right.

And now, is the time, to do just that.

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