Fading back into the community: Tips on increasing sanitation and safety

Guest Authored By Jessie G, RBT

As we enter into a new phase this comes with some excitement but also some hesitation. More and more places are opening back up so now we must think of ways to keep our families safe as we take this next step. With phase 4 beginning in Chicago, we are seeing places such as zoos, museums, and movie theaters opening back up. As the weather gets warmer, the thought of staying inside is becoming much more difficult. Therefore, it’s important to take the next step in maintaining your and your family’s safety as you travel outside of the home. Before adventuring out, a great first step is to pack a backpack of essentials for your family. Some items to include in your backpack are: 

  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Masks
  • Water bottles (reusable bottles with your child’s name on it) 
  • Prepacked snacks 

 Some places that you may travel to with your kids include the grocery store, park, zoo, museum, movie theater, or to playdates with other families. When taking your children out into the community, it’s important to remember some tips and tricks to keep them safe! 

Grocery Store 

  • While at the grocery store, please be sure to have you and your child wear a mask and wipe down the cart with a sanitizing wipe. Most grocery stores are supplying sanitizing wipes near the carts, however it’s best to bring extra wipes in case the store is out.  
  • While walking around the store, remind your kids to stay next to the cart by either helping push or riding inside. This will help prevent them from touching items on the shelves or fresh produce that you may not intend to purchase.  
  • Be mindful of the social distancing guidelines while in the store. For example, follow the arrows for which way to travel up and down the aisle and maintain a safe distance from others.  
  • Make sure the conveyor belt is disinfected prior to placing your items on it.  You can ask the cashier to spray it down or use your own wipes to wipe it down. 
  • It’s a great practice to use hand sanitizer prior to walking inside the store and as soon as you walk outside before getting into the car. Also, be sure to wash your hands immediately after getting home or unpacking the groceries.  
  • You can have your kids help wipe down appropriate items bought from the store prior to putting them away. According to the  U.S. Food and Drug Administrationthere is currently no evidence that food or the food packaging is linked with transmission of COVID-19. But like other viruses, there is a possibility that it could linger on surfaces, so it’s best to be cautious and always rinse fresh produce with water. As for packaged foods, according to Dr. Fernando, you can wipe them down with disinfecting wipes (FDA, 2020).  

Parks and Picnics

  • Playgrounds may not be open yet, but the park is a great location for families to get out of the house and get some fresh air. On a nice beautiful day in Chicago, a picnic at the park is a great family friendly activity. Pack some yummy snacks, grab a blanket and some sunscreen, and travel to a park to spend some time outside.
  • Another fun option is to invite another family along to the park to picnic. The kids can play socially distant games such as red light green light, bag toss, or tag using your elbows! The parents can maintain social distancing by sitting 6 ft apart from one another.
  • Bring plenty of plates/bowls and remind your kids to not place their hands inside chip bags and instead to pour them into a bowl or plate prior to eating.
  • It is important to remember that playgrounds are not open to the public and are NOT being cleaned and sanitized at this time, according to the Chicago Park District. Therefore, to avoid having to tell your kid no when they see a playground, go to a park that doesn’t have a play structure or sit far away from one.

Zoos, museums, and movie theaters

  • Illinois museums and zoos will be operating at 25% capacity and their interactive and indoor exhibits closed to the public.
  • Movie theaters will be offering admission up to 50 guests or 50% of overall theater or performance space capacity for each screening room.
  • If you decide to go to any of these location, we suggest buying tickets online ahead of time as so prevent having to wait in line.
  • Bring extra sanitizing wipes to wipe down arm rests and to use while opening doors.
  • When bringing your kids, remind them to stay next to you at all times and to keep their mask on. Have them use hand sanitizer when entering and when leaving these establishments.
Blue Bird Day and kid at zoo

The most important take away from all of this is to remain diligent in maintaining social distancing, practice proper hand washing and sanitizing, and to always wear a mask when out about in the community. Your children watch and learn from your actions, so be a role model during this time and teach your children how to stay safe when adventuring out into the community!

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