Pediatrics | Published June 23, 2020

Summer water activities during COVID-19

School is out for the summer and with rising temperatures, you might be looking to cool off and entertain the kids by visiting a local pool, lake or state park beach. As Pennsylvania continues to reopen, many are wondering if it's safe to head back into the water. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares that there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through water. The potential for COVID-19 to spread at pools, lakes and beaches relates to the number of individuals who flock to these attractions. The virus, in these locations, can spread from person to person as children and adults play and relax. 

Before you head out to the pool, lake or beach, be sure to consider:

  • Local and state guidance on safe activities and the level of community spread. The lower the level of community transmission, the lower the risk if you choose to go out.
  • Find out the pool or beach's safety protocols. Is the pool or beach restricting the number of people who have access at one time? Some facilities may ask patrons to leave after their allotted time is up to limit capacity.
  • Will those you interact with follow the same steps to prevent infection such as wearing masks and washing hands?
  • Will the activity reasonably allow you to maintain six feet of physical distance? 

Once there:

  • Avoid sharing items, including drink bottles, towels, toys, goggles or floats, and be prepared to clean and disinfect between each use. 
  • Advise those wearing face coverings not to wear them in the water. The CDC says you should never wear a cloth mask in the water (a wet mask can be dangerous if it obstructs your breathing), but do wear a mask when on dry land, entering rest facilities, public buildings or socializing with others at your location. 
  • Be sure to physically distance from others while in the water and stay six feet apart, about the length of a pool noodle.
  • Follow proper hand hygiene practices by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Follow basic water safety rules:
    • Designate a water watcher. This is a responsible adult who agrees to watch children in the water without distractions. This responsibility can be rotated to keep eyes sharp and allow all to enjoy the day. 
    • Young children or inexperienced swimmers should always wear a Coast Guard certified life jacket in and around the water.
    • Enter the water feet first.
    • Avoid swimming near pool drains.
    • Only swim in designated areas.

Don't forget that staying safe from COVID-19 is the same whether you're at a pool, a park or a grocery store. Focus on how you can lower your risk for infection by avoiding touching high traffic surfaces, wear a mask and remain physically distanced from others. 

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