Safety has always been a top priority for most people when they spend time in nature. However, because of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we all need to rethink how we approach our time outdoors to make sure we keep ourselves and our fellow nature lovers safe. Before you head out on your next adventure, we encourage you to keep the following added measures in mind.
First and foremost, if you feel sick, you should stay home and seek medical advice from your doctor. Following the latest CDC advice and using the CDC coronavirus self-checker tool can help you decide if it’s safe for you to venture outdoors. If you are able to head outside, it is important to check and make sure that the trail or park you wish to visit is open before you go. During these uncertain times, parks and trails can be closed on short notice for a variety of reasons, so it is good to know their status before you make the effort to travel to your destination. Check LetsGoOutside.org for the status of City of Irvine-owned trails, and be sure to check the OC Parks website before heading out to any OC Parks trails or facilities. You should also check to make sure your pack has all the essentials you will need for your trip, including water. We encourage everyone to add the following items to their pack to limit the potential transmission of infectious diseases:
- Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Face mask or covering
- Sunglasses or eye protection
Once you arrive, you should check to see if the trail or parking lot looks crowded. Consider rescheduling your time outdoors if it is. Once on the trail, do your best to maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and other visitors. Remember that at the time of publication, California has mandated face coverings in high-risk situations, including while outdoors when it is not possible to stay 6 feet away from persons who are not part of the same household. Many trails have been converted to one-way directional trails to help encourage physical distancing. Avoid touching anything that is not yours to limit potential contact with infectious diseases, and if you must touch something use hand sanitizer afterwards to clean your hands. Avoid touching your face, even if your hands are clean. This could mean wearing a hat or sweat band, so you will not feel the need to wipe sweat from your face. Finally, make sure not to litter. Follow the classic saying: “Pack it in, pack it out…leave no trace.”
Spending time in nature can be healing and restorative, both for our physical and mental health. However, we all need to make sure we take the proper precautions to enjoy the outdoors safely to ensure the wellbeing of ourselves and our friends on the trail. We hope to see you (from a safe distance) on the trail soon!