#childsafety | What’s fun and safe for kids this summer? Some tips for parents

What you want in a camp right now

Katie Lockwood, an attending physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said parents should think about activities that give children “a lot of outside playtime, where they can be physically separated a little bit more, and … that fresh air and circulation can also be really beneficial.”

Susan Coffin, an attending physician for the Division of Infectious Diseases at CHOP, agreed and noted that location is important too. Generally, you don’t want to go to a camp that is in an area with more COVID cases than where you’re coming from; the same goes for summer vacations. Camps with small groups of kids that involve a lot of time outside are better.

Although some camps aren’t opening this year, many still are.

Louise Wulfsohn is on the other side of the camp equation: Her 16-year-old son is working at a summer camp. It is not a decision that their family took lightly, she said.

“He knows he’s wearing a face shield and a mask at camp, and he has got his hand sanitizer, and they’re taking kids’ temperatures and doing everything that they’re supposed to be doing, according to the CDC. I think there’s a certain false sense of security with all those measures in place because there’s still risk even if you use those measures,” said Wulfsohn.

They agreed that her son wouldn’t work for two weeks after the protests, and he’s going to stop working two weeks before their family vacation. They’ll be taking a trip with Wulfsohn’s parents, who are older, and so her family plans on shrinking their social bubble beforehand.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

FILE PHOTO: Fire hydrants are open around the city during an historic heatwave in Philadelphia on July 2, 2018.

Wisdom about water fun

What about beating the heat and humidity by splashing around?

Philadelphia’s public pools are closed this summer, though some suburban and private club pools may be opening as our “yellow” status switches to “green” over the next few weeks. Natural bodies of water — ponds, creeks and rivers — may be tempting, but warn your kids off, the experts say. Between sewage, dangerous currents and the recent death of two teenage boys in the Schuylkill River, swimming is advised only in approved swimming areas.

Chlorine, often used to disinfect swimming pool water, will kill the novel coronavirus, Coffin said, though the chances of a high, constant concentration in any pool are very low. That’s not the biggest issue, however.

“The other thing that’s inevitable with swimming, in particular with kids in swimming, is the amount of splashing and sputtering and frankly spewing of respiratory droplets. And sadly, that is the way that coronaviruses are spread,” she said. “Until we have exceptionally low levels of respiratory virus activity in our community, it might not be advised to go to a large pool with many people.”

As for smaller family pools, they’re OK as long as you feel confident about the other people swimming with you.

Coffin suggested sprinklers as a fun alternative. That’s what Hoover’s family will be doing.

“So we are probably going to just spend more time playing in the yard and with the hose and keeping it simple,” she said.

Philadelphia will reopen its public spraygrounds starting July 6.

What about the ocean? Is that safe? Yes and no. Coffin suggested taking a private car to the shore if possible, but if you’re using public transit, sit in a corner, clean the area and wear masks. And once you actually get to the beach, exercise a moderate amount of caution.

“So this is not the time to be on the boardwalk at the height of midday activity. Maybe this is the time when you go to the beach, you go down to the beach early in the morning and are the first ones there. But then decide to spend the midday off playing games back at wherever you’re staying, and then return to the beach towards the end of the day, when crowds are a little bit lighter,” she said.

Laura Baker has two teenagers, ages 15 and 13, and they’ve already been to the beach.

“I thought it went well,” Baker said. “I mean, it was very empty. I went on a Friday; I wouldn’t have gone on a weekend yet because I know that there’s no way you can social distance at the beach and those kinds of things on the weekend.”

They plan to go again for a week, but since they stay with family, Baker isn’t too worried.

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