Living through the coronavirus pandemic has altered life in ways both mundane and profound. Will we always think twice about touching the handle of a grocery cart and hesitate to kiss our grandparents? Only time will tell how much it has impacted American society, but chances are, most families will be cautious about hopping on airplanes and taking long car rides to the beach this summer.
After weeks of stay-home orders from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to stop the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve,” many families have found new appreciation for the comforts of home and their local park systems. For many, fresh air and exercise were the best antidote to the frightening news they were seeing and hearing.
“I would expect a lot of families to be doing staycations this summer, perhaps as a result of public health recommendations, lingering fears of the virus and the economic impact on an unprecedented number of Americans,” says Dr. Katrina Lindsay, a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“One positive to come from the pandemic is the way families made the best of the situation and embraced the simpler things in life,” she says. “Weeks at home — without the typical rushing around — led to a rediscovery of reading books, playing board games, baking and exploring creative pursuits.”
Children are resilient, and the backyard can be as much fun as the beach or an amusement park. Depending on advice from the Ohio Department of Health, summer fun with kids may still need to be limited to family within the same household and may still need to follow social distancing guidelines.
“The home and backyard became a haven for families,” says Heather Trnka, injury prevention coalition supervisor for Akron Children’s Hospital, “and I would imagine that this summer, the deck, the patio and the yard will also be seeing a lot of family living.”
Trnka says her injury prevention colleagues have discussed concern for a possible increase in children drowning in backyard pools as the weather warms up.
“The thought is that many parents may still be in the work-from-home mindset, hopping on conference calls, checking email — and may not notice that a toddler has entered the pool,” she says. “The dangers that come from children being in and around cars is another concern — climbing into hot cars in the driveway unnoticed or being too small to be seen by the adult backing out. These tragedies happen every summer, but this summer, because of the extraordinary nature of what the country has been through, we are especially concerned because parents have a lot on their minds and patterns of daily life may still be disrupted.”
There are some summer safety messages that never change:
- Stay hydrated — water is the best choice.
- Don’t forget your sunscreen; reapply it every few hours and after getting wet.
- Have bug repellent on hand, but use caution when applying to children. It should contain 10 to 30 percent DEET. Do not use it on babies 2 months and younger
- Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds.
— By Akron Children’s Hospital, akronchildrens.org