By Mark Lester E. Ranchez
Several parks and beaches in Hawaii have finally reopened. And if you have been outside lately, you have probably seen the endless flocks of people trooping in and out of beaches and parks, either exercising or basking in the careless warmth of newfound liberty. And perhaps, as you have watched them from not-so-far a distance, a sudden rush of guilt overcame you: you have just participated in a seemingly irresponsible, selfish act. After all, Hawaii is still in stay-at-home order through the end of June; you knew you shouldn’t have been outside.
But since you are stubborn, you will go out again. As a matter of fact, you are already planning another picnic with your family on the beach the next weekend.
Well, worry no more, because here are ten tips you and your household can do to stay safe while outdoors:
1. Wear A Mask
This cannot be emphasized enough: wearing a mask saves lives. According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), the main cause of spreading the virus is through respiratory droplets directly landing in a person’s mouth or nose. The mask then helps contain these droplets, preventing both an asymptomatic and symptomatic person from infecting others around them.
2. Social Distance As Much As You Can
Space can be limited outdoors, particularly in crowded spaces. And if you are hiking or swimming, wearing a mask can be quite an inconvenience. If you choose not to wear a mask, at least try as best as you can to distance yourself from others. When this is impossible, say you are walking through a narrow trail and have to sidle past others, if you can’t find a spot to stop and let others through, just turn your face away and refrain from talking. If these worries, use the top part of your shirt to cover your mouth and nose while people walk by.
3. Be Wary of Public Facilities
Or don’t use them at all. But if you are like me who tends to use restrooms frequently, try not to touch anything, even door handles. But if you are left with no choice, use your wrist or a piece of paper towel to place along the handle to protect your hands/ fingers from touching surfaces. And when flushing, use toilet tissue, then immediately wash your hands after.
4. Carry Disinfectant
This comes handy, especially when going to places where washing hands is not an option. Bring one for each member of the family, and one to be left inside the car. Most stores have their own supplies to be used at checkout stations, so take advantage of them. For effective use, rub the liquid on hands until it dries.
5. Wash Your Hands
To protect yourself from the virus, frequently wash your hands for at least 20 minutes or while singing Happy Birthday twice. IMPORTANT POINT: SO FAR THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO GET RID OF THE VIRUS EXTERNALLY. Make this a faithful habit every time you go in and out of your household. And if in doubt, just wash it out.
6. Pick A “Public” Hand
When doing transactions or activities that may involve touching surfaces, decide which hand to use and stick to it for the rest of the day. Sometimes it is instinctive, but try to use the backside of your hand or fingers as much as you can.
7. Don’t Touch Your Face
Another way the virus enters the body is through touching the face with contaminated hands. Refrain from touching, dabbing, swiping, or moping your face with your fingers; instead use the back of your shirt, a fabric, a piece of paper towel, or wipes to do the job.
8. Avoid Crowded Places… As Much As You Can
This seems obvious enough, but Hawaii can be a little predictable—there can only be so many places to go to! One way to escape the foot traffic, though, is to plan ahead. Learn the slow days; know what time people tend to flock to your favorite parks, part of the beach, hiking trails, etc. Most likely, crowds gather on weekends, but since there are around 240,000 unemployed residents in Hawaii, an all-alone solace can be hard to come by.
9. Don’t Get Fooled By “Normalcy”
Being outdoors can be deceiving. Seeing many people idling about in the street as if there was no pandemic could lead you to do foolish things, like not wearing a mask in public or neglecting to practice social distancing in grocery stores. Realize that you might already have the virus but don’t know it yet; your symptoms are asymptomatic. But this could easily turn the other way around, and you will have no way of detecting it from others. The best way to prevent the virus, then, is to not take risks, even if it seems “normal” or harmless.
10. Practice Compassion
In the mounting uncertainty, it is easy to be carried away by fearful emotions; we are after all battling an unseen enemy. Learn to be compassionate anyway. Know that we are all in this together, that your actions could easily affect others, and vice versa. Practice social distancing but don’t be dismissive; always be careful but don’t be rude to others. Because if there’s anything this virus has proven to us, it is that no man is an island, and everyone should be taken care of.