Best practices for staying safe while getting outdoors during COVID-19
For the past two weeks, it seems like circumstances have changed by the hour. With the vast majority of the country staying indoors and social distancing, questions have surfaced about time spent outdoors. Can you still go outdoors? Is it safe to be hiking? How can you take precautions while enjoying the outdoors? We’re here to help answer some of your questions and provide best practices for your outdoor exploration during quarantine.
Go Alone or With Housemates
The primary guideline to keep in mind revolves around social distancing. While it’s tempting to meet up with friends or family outdoors, its best to continue to practice the same principles you are indoors. The safest way to spend time outside is on your own, or only with individuals living directly with you. Even while respecting the 6 feet rule, experts are advising to only be around others when absolutely necessary.
The second urge you may have is to jump in the car and take a road trip to your favorite trailhead. While there are no rules against this, the strong recommendation is to stay as local as possible. It may not be as exciting or challenging as your usual hike, but preventing any exposure or spread is far more important than getting the best view. The more local you stay, the less chance of spread. Simple as that! If you do decide to make a drive to a specific trailhead, be prepared to turn around or revert to your plan b if you notice large crowds.
Avoid Busy Times
The next best way to avoid interaction on the trails is to hike during less popular times. This will be easier to determine when hiking locally, but prepare to be flexible. As was noted above, have a plan b or plan c in mind in case trails or areas are particularly crowded upon your arrival. It may not be the most convenient, but it is by far the safest way to get outdoors and exercise. Additionally, return home immediately once your hike is complete. Lingering may seem harmless, but unnecessary time spent sitting around can put yourself or others at risk.
Pack Everything You Need
How often do we head out in the morning with the intention of stopping along the way for snacks, drinks, or any forgotten items? While that is usually no issue, during these times it’s highly recommended to come fully prepared with all items you’ll need for your hike. When considering the panic around resources in our own communities, it’s also important to be mindful of the communities surrounding trailhead areas. If everyone plans to stop for food and beverages, those areas may become quickly depleted given the already high demand. Come prepared with the food and drinks you need to ensure you’re not expending resources from these areas.
Explore With Caution
Once you arrive to your destination, be mindful of the risks you take during your hike. Medical staffing and emergency response isn’t at it’s typical capacity. Avoiding unnecessary risks during this time is a great way to preserve medical resources while preventing any additional contact than necessary. We promise you’ll be able to be a daredevil again, just not now!
Wash Your Hands
Have you heard this one enough yet? Whether you think you may have touched something or not, washing your hands for 30 seconds upon your return is an absolute must. Some individuals are going so far as to immediately put their clothes in the washer and jump into the shower before touching anything else. The more caution taken, the better. Don’t forget to wipe down the inside of your vehicle if driven, and any other items you took with you along the way.
With all of this said, don’t forget to enjoy your time outdoors. During unprecedented times such as this, the benefits of spending time outdoors on your mental health is substantial. As for us, we remain committed to our avid travelers in the off season, and are even more eager than ever to reconnect with some incredible itineraries once it is safe to do so.