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How to keep kids safe during summer activities

We asked an expert for some tips to keep kids safe during the pandemic, while still letting them have fun.

AUSTIN, Texas — Summer is a time that most kids look forward to. There's no school, and it's usually a time for fun activities. But this year is obviously different. 

We know how hard it can be to stay inside the house with your kids all day, every day – but if you're looking to venture outside, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind. 

Dr. Lisa Gaw, a pediatrician at Texas Children's Urgent Care, said to bring your own food and toys when you can, and don't forget the hand sanitizer. She also said now is a good time to have a discussion with your kids about hand sanitizer being like soap and how it shouldn't be ingested.  

Dr. Gaw also said it's smart to call ahead. 

"Any place that you go, I would call ahead and ask what measures they're taking to keep their employees safe and keep clients and family safe," Dr. Gaw said.

And don't forget your masks! Everyone over the age of two should wear one. If your child isn't a big fan of masks, Dr. Gaw said to try and get creative. 

"You can decorate a mask. You can pick a mask with like, your favorite cartoon character. You can make a paper mask for like, their favorite doll or a stuffed animal. It can be a fun thing," Dr. Gaw said.

When it comes to choosing what activities to do with your kids, try to stay outdoors and away from people and highly-touched surfaces. Here's a list of higher-risk and lower-risk activities:

Higher-risk

  • Indoor gyms
  • Indoor movies
  • Eating indoor at restaurants
  • Public playgrounds
  • Arcades

Lower-risk

  • Picnic in a park, away from others
  • Hiking
  • Swimming outdoors, as long as you are away from others outside of the pool
  • Drive-in movies
  • Playing catch
  • Going to the lake

"Anytime you're able to maintain six feet apart, having a face mask, frequent hand washing and limiting time spent in close contact, those are going to be lower-risk activities," Dr. Gaw said.

If you decide to go to the beach or a lake, bringing your own equipment lowers your risk. 

When it comes to youth sports, Dr. Gaw said contact sports, like football, are riskier than others, like tennis. She recommended that parents call the coach or organization to see what measures they are taking to keep kids safe. The same goes for summer camps: call ahead to find out their precautions. 

Even though they are outdoors, you should also avoid public playgrounds because of their highly-touched surfaces.

When it comes down to it, staying home is your safest bet. But if you do go outside, practice social distancing, sanitizing and wearing your face masks. 

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