#CentennialTips for Staying Safe this Summer
As the weather gets warmer, you’re probably feeling an urge to go out and enjoy the summer weather, especially when distance learning has kept you at home a lot. While the fresh air and sunshine is good for your mental and physical health, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, so you’ve got to think of your own safety. It’s hard to find good information these days, but these stories from CNN, NPR and Vox are all sourced from discussions with medical professionals, so their advice is sound. Importantly, NPR explained the risks of infection as “time, space, people, place.” As they put it, “The more time you spend and the closer in space you are to any infected people, the higher your risk. Interacting with more people raises your risk, and indoor places are riskier than outdoors.” So, with that in mind, here are some tips on how to enjoy your summer safely.
Staying home will always be safest
The bad news: Staying home alone, or home with only your housemates is still the only really safe thing you can do. Your home is always going to be the safest place, so you should try and spend as much time as possible there, and only let people you live with inside. And if you’re sick, you should only stay at home, full stop, and isolate yourself from your housemates.
Think carefully about who you interact with
If you have to interact with anyone, it should just be people you live with. Outside of that, something you can do is establish a “closed circle” of people you regularly interact with, such as family or close friends, if they’re also keeping isolated. It needs to be people you know and can trust, though, and they need to be doing their part to keep safe.
The Great Outdoors isn’t a bad idea
The good news is that if you must be going somewhere, the outdoors is where you want to be, because the open air is the safest option that isn’t staying home. However, even when taking part in outdoor activities, you still need to make sure you wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay two metres away from people you don’t live with, and avoid touching or sitting on things people use, like benches or swings. And make sure to go where the people aren’t, so avoid crowded public areas.
Walks and exercise alone is the best thing
The best thing if you’re going outside is to go on a walk alone or with your housemates, and avoid everyone. You’ll get fresh air and exercise, and you’ll stay relatively safe. At the same time, exercising outdoors by, say, going on a run is a really good way to burn your pent-up energy while staying safe, so long as you avoid crowds.
Going camping is low risk, since you’re outdoors and isolated. Just make sure the people you’re going with are your housemates, or other people that have been isolated, and don’t go to a crowded campground with shared facilities.
Keep outdoor gatherings small
If you need to meet people, it’s better to do it outdoors, especially if it’s some kind of gathering, like a barbecue. To reduce risk, don’t share food, drinks or utensils, and bring your own supplies whenever possible. If you have to interact with anyone, even outside, it’s better it be small numbers of people, because it’s much harder to maintain social distancing in a crowd, if not impossible. Big outdoor celebrations, like concerts are a really bad idea (which is why they’re banned right now). Remember, the same rules apply: Wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t touch your face and avoid shared surfaces.
Avoid the indoors when it isn’t your own house
Indoor gatherings increase the risk of infection, thanks to the closed environment without open air to blow viruses away, and a decreased ability to easily stay two metres apart. If you’re somehow stuck with a group of strangers in an indoor location, disinfect everything you’re going to touch, only stay in a few small, specific areas, avoid groups and keep your face covered with a mask. Wearing a mask is highly recommended in indoor spaces that aren’t your home, like grocery stores and subway stations.
Indoor activities are a big no-no
As businesses start to open up, remember that indoor dining at a restaurant is one of the riskier things you can do. Just being indoors at an unfamiliar locale is bad, and in a restaurant setting, you linger for a longer time. Similarly, most religious worship services are all about being indoors for long periods of time with a lot of people, so the risk of infection is high, and a number of outbreaks are linked to churches. Haircuts are also especially risky, because they involve close contact with another person for an extended period of time. Masks are vital in these situations.
Keep shopping to a minimum
Many Canadian malls are currently closed because of the risks of being in an indoor area with a lot of people, so that should tell you something about shopping. When you do go shop for essential supplies that you can’t get online, you should plan your shopping list ahead of time so that you get in and out quickly. Try to shop at off-peak hours, and do curbside pickup if you can.
Manage your time
A common point throughout all of these risky situations is that it’s a matter of time: If you have to be in a risky environment, make your visit as brief as possible. The longer you’re in the environment, the more risk you’re at. But this doesn’t mean the risk goes away if you’re quickly in and out, it’s just reduced. Along similar lines, if you’ve got to make non-essential trips, space them out so that you only do it every two weeks, if you can, so you can make sure you’re healthy.
Remember, there’s no such thing as a zero-risk outing during a pandemic. You can’t eliminate risks, but you can reduce them as much as possible. Still, it’s good for your mental and physical health to get outside and soak up the fresh air and sun, and that’s certainly something you can do this summer, so long as you stay aware, stay safe and keep yourself apart from the crowds.
By: Anthony Geremia