8 Ways to Keep Kids Safe During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Color blocks made to spell out COVID19.

According to expert forecasting, there’s no reason to believe that the COVID-19 outbreak is going away soon. As a parent, you want to protect your kids against the worst of the pandemic. In addition to shielding them from the virus, you also want to prevent your children from potentially spreading it to other family members, including vulnerable grandparents. Take the following steps to keep your kids safe during the ongoing pandemic.

1. Educate Your Kids About the COVID-19 Outbreak

Awareness is crucial to surviving a pandemic. Your children need to know what’s happening and what they can do to be safe. Explain to your kids what the COVID-19 outbreak is in a simple way they can understand. Make it clear that COVID-19 can be a dangerous disease and the virus that causes it spreads easily. Without going into too many details, educate them on the basics, and try your best to answer their questions.

2. Teach Your Kids to Wash Their Hands Frequently

Make sure your kids wash their hands frequently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds before rinsing should be sufficient. Twenty seconds for a child can seem long, so make it a joyful time by singing happy birthday twice. Research on how long the novel coronavirus can live on different surfaces is still ongoing, so, for now, make sure your kids wash their hands often to reduce the risk of infection.

Woman teaching her young daughter how to wash her hands.
Washing hands is an important way to protect yourself.

3. Make Sure Your Kids Wear a Face Covering

If your child is above the age of two, make sure they always wear a face-covering in public, unless they’re unable to do so for medical reasons. Face coverings of various sizes, colors and patterns are available for sale online. If someone came near them who wasn’t wearing a mask, be sure to have your child wash their hands thoroughly, and make it a habit to launder their face mask after every outing.

Woman wearing a mask giving her young son (also wearing a mask) some hand sanitizer.
Be sure to follow CDC guidelines for who, how and when to wear masks.

4. Take Specific Precautions at Public Eating Places

When you and your kids go to a restaurant, carry hand sanitizer to use before and after your meal. Use a disinfectant cloth to wipe down child seats that the restaurant provides. Alternatively, bring your own portable child seat.

5. Follow These Rules While Hugging

Hugs are a great way to show affection. They soothe us and strengthen bonds. Connecting with others can help alleviate anxiety related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Thankfully, a quick hug is unlikely to result in the transmission of COVID-19, as long as specific precautions are taken. Just keep the following “hugging rules” in mind.

  • No hugging if someone has COVID-19 symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing
  • Make it quick
  • Wear a face covering
  • Wash hands before and after hugging
  • Hold your breath while hugging
  • Look in the opposite direction while hugging

6. Create a Safe Space for Kids to Spend Time with Their Grandparents

People over the age of 65 face the highest risk of suffering a severe response to COVID-19. However, since the cure or vaccine for the disease is months away, preventing people from making any contact with their family may not be sustainable. With careful planning and strict precautions, your kids and their grandparents may spend time together. The following measures minimize the risk of grandparents becoming infected.

  • Let them hang together outside, where they can easily maintain a safe distance
  • Always maintain a distance of 6 feet
  • Anyone above the age of 2 must wear a face covering
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Grandfather and grandchild (both wearing masks) outside in the park, playing chess.
Quality time with grandparents and grandchildren is good for mental health.

7. Make Sure the Day Care Center Follows CDC Guidelines

Before you take your child to a day care center, make sure your day care service providers strictly adhere to  CDC guidelines for operating a children’s’ day care during the COVID-19 outbreak. The new guidelines include ensuring children over the age of 2 wear face coverings until they reach the center and wash hands immediately on arrival.

Young girl wearing a mask in classroom using hand sanitizer. Other kids in background are also wearing masks.
Young girl with face mask using hand sanitizer in class room. Other kids in background are also wearing masks.

8. Take Precautions for Babysitting

The risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus increases when you broaden your family circle. When you drop your kids for a playdate or babysitting at a friend’s home, you expose them to every member of your friend’s household and everyone they’ve contacted.

Keep the physical contact circle small. If you must, drop your kids off at only one friend’s home, a friend who knows and takes all the necessary precautions. Until there’s concrete research on how the virus is transmitted among children, avoid indoor playdates. Let children play outside under supervision to ensure they maintain a safe distance.

Everyone is struggling to accept the new normal, and kids are no exceptions. Take time to reassure them that their friends aren’t going away because of physical distancing. With a little ingenuity, you can find creative ways to help them feel connected and remain safe.

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