FALLS CHURCH, Va. - As many states enter various phases of reopening, families may wonder what they can do during the summer to have fun while protecting their health and the health of others in the middle of a pandemic.

If you are sick, exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been exposed to someone diagnosed with the virus, stay home. In general, interacting closely with others outside your immediate family over a prolonged period of time increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To slow the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends practicing social distancing, remaining at least 6 feet apart, wearing cloth face coverings, and washing your hands often.

With this in mind, summer still means spending more time enjoying outdoor activities. The CDC has recommendations on going out and spending time in public during this time, including social and personal activities. If your summer plans include travel outside of your local community, read the CDC travel considerations before leaving.

Some local and national parks are open. Current military service members and their families, as well as reserve and National Guard members, can obtain a free annual pass to visit national parks. Try to visit parks closer to home and avoid crowded parks where it can be difficult to maintain social distancing. You may want to call ahead to check if bathroom facilities and other services are available.

The same social distancing guidelines apply when visiting pools and beaches. While there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through water activities, the CDC recommends maintaining a distance of six feet with others when swimming. Avoid crowded pools, beaches, and play areas and wear a cloth face cover when not in the water.

Drowning is the fifth-leading cause of death among people of all ages, and a leading cause of death in children under the age of 4, according to the CDC. Closely supervise children playing near the water. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket when swimming in natural bodies of water.

Summer is often a time for outdoor cookouts and activities. Whether you’re enjoying bike rides, hikes, walks, or outdoor sports, remember to protect your skin and eyes when spending time in the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause damage in as little as 15 minutes, according to the CDC. Sun damage accumulates over time, so make sure to protect children from an early age. Put on a hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirt, and pants covering the legs for protection. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 that has UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection. Keep reapplying sunscreen throughout the day after swimming or sweating.

Check out the Military Health System’s summer safety page at https://health.mil for more information to keep you and your family informed and safe this season.

Connecticut Media Group