LOGO 2019
Backyard camping for safe summer fun during COVID-19

Enjoy Your Summer Safely: How to Protect Yourself from Sun, Heat & COVID-19

By Kristy Warren

Summer is traditionally the peak season for vacations and socializing, but this year, our summer plans face a brand-new challenge: Coronavirus COVID-19. With COVID-19 cases rising across the country, it’s so important for us to take the right safety precautions to protect ourselves and others while enjoying the warm weather.

From outdoor fun and getting creative in your backyard to which activities to skip, Kelly Carr, a certified registered nurse practitioner with the Laurel Health Centers shares helpful tips on how you and your loved ones can make the most of the 2020 summer season safely!



Outdoor activities can be a great way to enjoy the summer while social distancing! Hiking, walking, taking a drive, biking a trail, swimming, kayaking, gardening, home / landscaping projects, or getting creative with backyard camping can all be fun ways to celebrate the warm summer weather, but be sure to keep your distance from others, avoid crowds, mask in public spaces, wear sunscreen, and keep an eye on the heat.


If temperatures are climbing too high to enjoy outdoor activities safely, try hosting virtual parties to say hello to friends and family, break out the old board games, or gather your immediate household for a family movie night where everyone gets to select a favorite film and snack.


Note: The term “immediate household” refers to the people who live in your home every day, not extended family or friends. If you plan to meet with anyone from outside your immediate household, do your best to meet outdoors, mask, and maintain six feet of distance. COVID-19 can spread very easily from person to person, and we can shed the virus before we even realize we’re sick, so it’s very important for everyone to take preventive safety measures even when they think everyone is well.



Protect yourself and others by:

  • Wearing a mask that fits securely over your nose and mouth
  • Washing your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and warm water
  • Staying six feet apart from anyone not in your immediate household
  • Spending time outdoors when visiting with someone outside your household
  • Not sharing food, drinks, or utensils
  • Avoiding large groups, parties, or events, especially indoors
  • Reducing travel out of the area

If you’re considering a family picnic or BBQ, come up with a COVID-19 safety plan:

Evaluate how widespread transmission is in your area, check for updated restrictions on gatherings, and keep the group size small and outdoors where the guests can spread out at least six feet from each other. Ask everyone to bring their own meal to avoid sharing food or utensils, create a direct path to the bathroom for handwashing to reduce foot traffic through the home, and wear masks when not eating or drinking.

Man BBQ-ing at a grill outside

Note on mask wearing: Masks are now required in PA’s public spaces like grocery stores, businesses, offices, and parks because scientific studies and health experts around the world have now confirmed that masks play an important role in reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially from pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people. It is a simple measure everyone can take to protect themselves, their neighbors, and our local businesses along with social distancing and hand washing. If you need a mask, contact the Tioga County Partnership for Community Health at 570-723-0520 to obtain one for free.



Unfortunately, COVID-19 isn’t taking a vacation this summer. While it’s hard to cancel that trip to the beach, there are some activities that we should avoid this year to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Avoid indoor parties during COVID-19

Avoid indoor gatherings or events like dinner parties or cocktail hour, as it’s easier to spread COVID-19 in contained spaces with low airflow.


What to try instead: Meet up with friends / family in small groups outdoors for a picnic where everyone brings their own goodies and can spread out; remember to mask when you’re not eating or drinking.

Avoid crowded beaches, busy trails, and packed public pools.


What to try instead: Get creative with your own backyard getaway or seek out more secluded creeks and hiking or biking trails to enjoy the outdoors while staying socially distanced.


Avoid congregating in large groups or traveling out of the area to busy vacation destinations; COVID-19 cases are rising sharply across the country and turning many areas into hotspots where you are at increased risk for contracting COVID-19.


What to try instead: Keep group sizes small and take a drive to enjoy the views without leaving your car. Bring the vacation destination to you by recreating some of the activities you’d planned. Transform a spot of your own home or yard for your own “relaxing day by the pool, spa, or beach.”



In addition to COVID-19 prevention, it's always important to take steps to protect ourselves from the sun and heat. The sun is most intense from 10 am to 3 pm, so plan your outdoor activities for the morning or late afternoon / evening when possible. If you’ll be spending time outdoors, be sure to wear sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection (at least SP30+) and re-apply every few hours, especially after swimming or sweating. Choose sun-factor clothing, sunglasses, and a hat for added protection.

Stay safe in the sun with sunscreen, a hat & sunglasses

If the heat index is climbing into the high 80s and 90s, it’s better to spend time indoors with just your immediate household and a fan, AC, water, and cool compresses to beat the heat. Be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water and moderate your intake of beverages like alcohol or soda, which can dehydrate you further in the heat.


Never leave children or pets in parked cars, even if you plan to only be a minute or run a single errand. Temperatures can skyrocket to fatal levels in a matter of minutes. Likewise, keep an eye out for signs of heat illness like heat cramps or heat stroke when working or playing outdoors. If someone grows dizzy, nauseated, feverish, heavily flushed, very pale, or disoriented, get them to shade or indoors to cool down and call 911 for help immediately.


The Laurel Health Centers are dedicated to caring for all of your health needs throughout the pandemic and beyond. For more summer safety tips or information stay tuned to our news page on laurelhc.org.


To make an appointment, call 1-833-LAUREL-H-C (1-833-528-7354) today or click here to visit our locations page!