01 May Outside In The Time Of Covid-19
OK…So we’re doing this
After being cooped up indoors for weeks now, you’re probably ready to get outside. The Covid-19 Pandemic has kept much of the world locked-down and now many “safer-at-home” restrictions are beginning to lift. Along with restaurants and retail stores among the many institutions across the country that will open soon are our state parks and forests. Even though the national health emergency is by no means over, there will be thousands of excited and anxious people headed into the outdoors, and it’s important that we continue to exercise a few precautions to make sure that we can all remain safe and healthy, while protecting our natural environment.
State Parks here in Wisconsin are now open. Here are a few suggestions for best practices of outdoor behavior inspired in part by The Ice Age Trail Alliance, Leave No Trace and The American Alpine Club.
If there is even the slightest chance that you are sick or contagious or if you are at risk of contracting the Coronavirus stay where you are. Don’t put your life at risk or the lives of others you might meet outside
Keep your travel distance to an absolute minimum. Try not to drive more than an hour away from your home. Should the need arise you’ll want to get back as quickly as possible.
Make sure you know where you’re going. Have plenty of gas. Pack a lunch or at least some snacks so you’re not tempted to stop along the way. Bring plenty of water.
Limit Your Group Size
More than three is a crowd. Try to venture out only with friends and family you’ve already been exposed to for a while. Don’t plan a get-together with a lot of extra people.
Try not to go where EVERYONE else is going. Those most popular destinations will be over-run with people excited to go to their favorite spot. During these first few days try to stay clear of these places.
Take Your Time, But Not Too Much
Don’t be in a hurry to get wherever you’re going. Traveling at a frantic pace is the best way to invite an accident or raise the anxiety of those around you. Once you get there enjoy your time outside, but don’t linger too long in any one place. Give others a chance to experience the place you love
Be Kind & Compassionate
Like you, the people you will encounter have been indoors for several weeks. They are likely to be managing a bit of trauma from their recent experiences. Be patient and understanding. Practice calm humility and generosity of spirit. Treat them the way you would like to be treated if your positions were reversed.
Keep Your Distance
Six feet is still the best rule of thumb to separate you for others. Don’t cluster in groups of more than 5 people and try to keep moving.
Cover Your Nose and Mouth
You don’t have to wear a mask at all times, but it’s a good idea to have one handy if you ever come into close contact with people nearby. If you are carrying a trace of the virus, this will help you to minimize the risk of exposure to others around you.
WASH YOUR HANDS!
Use soap and water whenever possible. Hand sanitizer works too. Just keep it clean
Leave No Trace
Now more than ever we must take care of the natural environment. Bring along a reusable bag to pick up after yourself. And while you’re at it, if you see random bits of trash on the ground pick that up too! We have a wonderful opportunity to make the world outside even better than it is now. If we all chip in to do our part, once the Pandemic is over we can turn many of these common practices into good habits that everyone can follow every day.
This is by no means a fully comprehensive list. Please share your suggestions, questions, comments and criticisms in the comments below. Go be joyful. Have Fun. Stay safe.