Collectively, British Columbians have done their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now we’re slowly venturing out of our homes to resume work activities, sports, and enjoy the pleasant weather that’s in store for us this summer.
Going out might be a bit different as we continue to keep our distance and wear masks in public for safety. We have been isolated for many months and may have been inactive, which could increase our risk for injury.
Visits to BC Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. While doctors are not seeing as many sports injuries, they are seeing injuries from leisure activities, such as from cycling and playground equipment.
Whatever you enjoy this summer, remember to include recommendations from BC’s Provincial Health Officer as a part of your activities, including: maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres from others outside of “your bubble,” washing your hands frequently, and cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces on a regular basis.
As a follow up to our previous blog post, we have put together some safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe in the coming months.
- Back to School: BC Children’s Hospital has some good reminders on what to remember when preparing for back-to-school.
- Window Falls: With the temperature rising, open windows can be a hazard for curious young kids who love to climb. BC Children’s Hospital has some advice on how to prevent window falls.
- Preventing Falls: If you’re over 65 years-of-age, you are at an increased risk of falls—even in your own home.
- Now is a good time to get your annual vision check with your optometrist.
- Pharmacists are available to review your medications and how they can affect you, whether it’s in person, over the phone, or through 8-1-1.
You or someone you know may be feeling anxious or struggling during this time. COVID-19 can put people at greater risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide due to things such as unemployment, unstable housing, adapting to significant life changes, and family illness or loss.1
- Check in on your loved ones and ask them how they might be feeling, and create spaces for dialogue.
- Telehealth visits with a counsellor or psychologist are available in BC. Visit HeretoHelp.ca to learn more.
- Check in on those with a history of suicide and non-suicidal self-injury behaviour, and limit their time spent alone.
- Monitor your child’s texts, social media use, and phone calls for signs of cyberbullying and that they are not watching videos on self-harm or suicide.
- Treat any talk of self-harm or suicide seriously—a call to 9-1-1 or a visit to the emergency department may be needed.
- Kelty Mental Health has some additional resources.
Consider contacting the following resources for someone to talk to:
- Kids Help Phone offers 24/7 support for youth (1-800-668-6868), and have some articles on how to talk to your kids and teens about COVID-19 on their website.
- Adults: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
- Older Adults (65+ Years) Seniors Distress Line: 604-872-1234
- Youth in BC (up to 25 years old): Youth In BC; Kelty Mental Health
- Adults (over 25 years old): Crisis Centre Chat
- Online Safety and Preventing Cyberbullying: Government of BC
Sport and Recreation
- Playgrounds: Playgrounds and play equipment are open for children in some areas of the province. The BC Centre for Disease Control has some reminders on how to enjoy these activities safely.
- Outdoor Play: Outdoor risky play has many mental and physical health benefits for children. Visit Parachute and Dr. Mariana Brussoni’s outsideplay.ca for more information.
- Wear a helmet: A concussion can happen even if your children are only cycling, longboarding, inline skating, or skateboarding close to home. Ensure your child wears an approved helmet that is properly fitted and strapped up. Parachute has a good infographic describing the “2-V-1 Rule” to help you remember how to properly fit a helmet.
- Be Street Smart: Encourage your children to watch for traffic and teach them the rules of the road when biking or skateboarding.
- Organized Sports: If it’s been a while since you’ve been participating in your favourite sport or recreational activity, there is strong evidence that athletes can experience a “de-training” effect that reverses the gains from training if they do not maintain pre-training levels2. Resuming play at pre-COVID-19 levels too quickly can put you at risk for injury.
- We’ve summarized provincial recommendations for returning to organized sport safely on Active & Safe Central.
Heat and Sun Safety
- UBC researchers warn that staying cool may be more difficult this summer due to COVID-19. Remember that the entire family should wear sunscreen, sun hats, and sunglasses when spending time in the sun and heat.
- Keep children hydrated and bring extra water, and encourage little ones to sip frequently.
- Wear breathable material and dress children in long sleeves for sun protection. Keep long hair tied up to allow air to evaporate sweat.
- Select outdoor pools and spray parks are open. BCCDC has some reminders on how to enjoy these facilities safely.
- Children need constant supervision when they are in, on and around any type of body of water including a wading pool, pond, splash pad, lake or beach – always watch children closely.
- Adults should be within arm’s reach at all times and provide ‘touch supervision’ to infants, toddlers, and weak swimmers.
- Model the behaviour you wish to see in your children—put on a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) too!
- It’s not a good idea to go swimming or boating alone—if you do, tell someone where and when you’re going to be.
- Be aware of the effects of cold-water immersion on the body.
- Jumping off that cliff might look safe, but remember hazards that could be lurking under the water. AdventureSmart has safety tips on their website.
- Fast moving water can overtake even strong swimmers.
- Motorcycle riding: Motorcycle injuries occur more often on weekends and in warm weather. Read our factsheet on motorcycle injuries in BC.
- Kids Playing: Children may be staying closer to home and playing near roads and neighbourhood parks. Remember to slow down and watch for pedestrians.
- Speed Limits: Most pedestrian deaths in BC occur in 30-50 km/hour speed zones. Be mindful of your speed, especially when kids are playing outside this summer, and remember school zones and playground zones are 30 km/hr.
- Look Twice Before Locking: In the heat of the summer, remember to double check that you have everything—and everyone—out of the car before heading into the house or grocery store. Even spending a few minutes inside a closed car in the summertime can be dangerous for a child.
- Cleaning and disinfecting: All of us are cleaning more frequently and carefully. Children might mistake regular household products for treats. Remember to store bleach, cleaning products and laundry pods away and safely out of the reach of children when not in use.
- Cannabis safety
- Children can become poisoned from consuming cannabis products that are not stored away properly. This typically occurs in the child’s home, and the cannabis belongs to a family member.
- Youth who are inexperienced, or take cannabis with other substances (e.g., alcohol) can be at risk for poisoning.
- Learn more about cannabis poisoning on our website.
Going to the hospital for an injury is never ideal. Take steps to prevent injuries—but remember that emergency rooms are open if you need it. BC Children’s Hospital has a guide on their website in case you are not sure if you need to go to emergency, or you can talk to your family doctor or call 8-1-1.
As Dr. Bonnie Henry says: “Let’s continue to work together, to take care of each other and all do our part.”
- Szlyk HS, Berk M, Peralta AO, Miranda R. (2020 Jun). Coronavirus Disease 2019 Takes Adolescent Suicide Prevention to Less Charted Territory. J Adolesc Health .Epub ahead of print.
- Sousa AC, Neiva HP, et al. Concurrent Training and Detraining: brief Review on the Effect of Exercise Intensities. Int J SportsMed 2019; 40(12): 747-755. https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/a-0975-9471 (Accessed: 23 June 2020)