Safe Outdoor Gatherings: How to Avoid COVID Transmission Outdoors
As the coronavirus continues, Americans are turning more toward outdoor gatherings as a safer way to reunite with their friends and family members. However, some of the restrictions and outbreaks from the past has led to confusion about the safety of socializing outdoors.
So, can you catch COVID outside? While experts claim the risk of COVID transmission outdoors is lower than indoors, here are some safety measures should still be taken.
Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at US Davis Children’s Hospital, says the best thing about being outside is that the virus is less infectious in the open air and dilutes quicker than indoors. While the risk of contracting the infection may be lower, it cannot be guaranteed so there are some things to consider. In fact, there have been plenty of instances in the media unfortunately of people catching covid-19 outdoors.
Important Things to Consider Before Your Outdoor Gathering
- How close and prolonged will your interaction with others be? (As the CDC warns: the more closely and the longer you interact with others, the higher the risk of COVID-10 transmission.)
- Will you be able to adhere to every day preventive actions, such as wearing a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others?
- Are COVID-19 case numbers growing in your community?
- Will you have potential close contact with individuals who don’t wear face masks?
So, after those considerations, here are some tips to help avoid COVID transmission outdoors and decrease the risk of getting infected.
Safe Gathering Outdoor Tips
1. Avoid Peak Hours
When planning your outdoor activities, try to avoid crowded settings and peak hours. The more congested a place is, the higher the number of potentially infected people is.
It is much easier to have control over the situation by asking a small group of people to keep to COVID-19 safety precautions versus doing that with a hundred strangers. That’s why COVID transmission outdoors is likely to occur in crowded places where there are more individuals who do not take safety measures seriously.
2. Monitor How Much Alcohol You Drink
When people drink alcohol, their priorities are shifted towards having fun rather than keeping up with safety precautions. This is especially dangerous during the global pandemic times, as the chances of the COVID transmission outdoors increase.
The World Health Organization warns: consumption of alcohol is likely to increase the risks of becoming infected with the virus. Alcohol has a harmful effect on your immune system lowering down its ability to resist the virus. So, stay sober to remain vigilant and be able to make decisions with a clear head.
3. Wear a N95 or KN95 Face Mask
No matter how uncomfortable it may seem to wear a face mask for outdoor gathering, face masks are proven to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. So, make sure to put it back on between sips and bites, and especially when you’re talking, as the virus is transferred through the droplets while talking, coughing, or sneezing, and the mask can block them.
Masks with 95% of filtration capacity, such as N95 masks or KN95 masks can be a good choice for your outside gathering, as they are proven to provide the maximum level of protection against the virus.
4. Move Around
A good way to keep your distance while still having fun is to engage in some sort of physical activity that is meant to be done distantly. Dancing with plenty of space between the dancers, playing Frisbee or a game of cornhole might be a good idea in this case. However, it is crucially important to not touch your face between throws without washing your hands first.
5. Bring Your Own Food and Utensils
During the outdoor activities, following food safety precautions is also important, as germs, like COVID-19 spread through contaminated surfaces, like forks, spoon, plates, and glasses onto your hands and into your mouth. So, always wash your hands before meals.
Avoid going to crowded restaurants and bars after your outdoor party. Instead, bring your own food and utensils to your gathering.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that sometimes he and his family may invite people over to spend some time out on the deck. They always stay 6 feet apart, and the guests are usually the ones who themselves are practicing social distancing. They wear masks, unless they are eating, and don’t share anything, like common bowls.
6. Keep Garages and Tents Well Ventilated
If you live in the area where the weather conditions aren’t favorable, as it may rain or snow, then you may need a shelter to keep you dry and a heater to keep you warm. Some people have decided to invest in outdoor tents or turn their garages into gathering areas.
The chances of COVID transmission outdoors in a tent or garage might be slightly higher than in the open outdoors. Keep the windows and doors open, so that enough air can get through. Ventilation is important because the wind helps disperse respiratory droplets that may carry the coronavirus.
7. Maintain Social Distancing
Social distancing must be maintained throughout the outdoor gathering. It’s easy to relax on this as the party goes on, so it’s important to be aware of this and take precautions to keep people safely apart during the entire length of the gathering. Whether this is separating the chairs, laying out reminder markers or signs, or designating a specific person to remind others, staying the proper distance apart can make a difference to keep everyone safe.
Remember, since it can take two weeks for the COVID-19 symptoms to show up, there is no way of knowing if you are putting yourself into the midst of an invisible local coronavirus outbreak by going to an outdoor party. If, at this point, we go back to our normal life without maintaining safety precautions, you never know when and where it might show up.If you are looking for a high-quality face mask for your outdoor gathering, one option to consider is the 3M 1804 Vflex masks N95. With 95% filtration rate, these NIOSH approved, and FDA cleared masks will ensure the highest level of protection against COVID-19 in combination with your personal comfort and contentment.