Coronavirus: Are playgrounds safe for children?

Taking Kids to Playgrounds during the Pandemic
Taking Kids to Playgrounds during the Pandemic

By now, you’re probably very familiar with the term “social distancing.” But staying at home all day, every day can be tough for active children. Many parents wonder if it’s OK to take their kids to a playground to burn off energy.

The coronavirus has millions of kids cooped up at home. Taking your little ones to a playground might sound like much-needed fun, but is it safe?

Experts say while the virus spreads easiest by touching people, it can also linger on hard surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel, for two to three days.

“If there’s a lot of high touch areas, there could be significant virus there, and certainly there is the potential to pick up the disease that way,” explained Dr. Raymond Pontzer, an infectious diseases specialist at UPMC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Also, playground equipment isn’t routinely cleaned or sanitized after each use. Some community playgrounds remain open to the public, while others have closed. If you do choose to let your kids play, have them wash their hands and avoid touching their faces. And only interact with people in your household.

“It’s all about distancing. You want to try to stay 6 feet away from other people if at all possible when you’re out and about,” Pontzer said.

Pontzer said though the virus can be detected on surfaces for days, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s infectious for that whole time. He said touching surfaces with the virus on it is probably most concerning within the first few hours.