Kids, playgrounds, toys and sports equipment — why it is not safe during a pandemic

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With the local and regional quarantine instructions asking people to stay home and avoid contact with others, it has been a significantly stressful and uncertain time for everyone — including children.

Although everyone has been instructed to stay home, many parents are finding it hard to keep their kids active and are still allowing them to play outside on playgrounds with other kids, toys and sporting equipment. The question they ask:

What could be the harm in that if they are following the appropriate social distancing orders?

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention, the key to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. If children meet outside in large groups, it can put everyone at risk.

Even if kids are still social-distancing on the playground, they are still touching the same surfaces as all the other kids. COVID-19 is known to live on surfaces from a few hours to days.

Here is how long COVID-19 can stick around on surfaces, according to a new study from the New England Journal of Medicine:

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s expert, Samiksha Raut, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of biology, says it is important for parents to keep their kids at home and away from playgrounds and shared toys and sports equipment during this time.

“Kids are constantly moving from one part of the playground to another and are quite prone to touching their faces — nose, eyes, etc. at intervals,” Raut said. “Therefore, if they happen to touch an object with the novel coronavirus, the chances of getting infected are very high. Despite the emerging evidence that children continue to show mild symptoms of COVID-19, they can still function as active carriers of the virus, especially in the asymptomatic phase. Above all, given their ages they do not understand the importance of social distancing and, hence, should be actively supervised by parents and/or caretakers.”

To help minimize the community impact of the COVID-19 spread, use these hygiene guidelines recommended by CDC for your kids:

Get the latest COVID-19 information at uab.edu/coronavirus.