How to safely hike with COVID-19 Precautions
The precautions and restrictions recommended in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 seem to rapidly change each day. There are a few things that are clear:
- It’s important to keep up with current government and CDC recommendations.
- Social distancing is incredibly important at this time.
- Time outdoors is still strongly recommended for personal health.
At the current moment, many state parks remain open for day visits. However, there are some changes to services. For example, many visitor centers and campgrounds may be closed to aid in social distancing. Before going anywhere to hike, it’s important to check the most up to date information about closures and restrictions. Washington State Parks is frequently updating their COVID-19 response.
Why Hiking is Recommended
There are many benefits to being outdoors in light of the current pandemic. Being outdoors is thought to not only improve your mood and mental health, but also to increase your immunity. Physical activity in general has been shown to benefit the immune system, and with gyms closed a hike may be the best way to exercise at the current moment. Going for a hike may be just what your mind and body need.
Precautions to take when hiking
While hiking is a recommended activity right now, there are some precautions to take for your own and others’ health and safety.
- Maintain recommended social distancing. This is a great time to hike with the family members you’re already exposed to. This is not a great time to arrange a group hike. While on the trail, maintain the six feet distance from others recommended with social distancing.
- Avoid visitors centers (they may be closed anyway). Almost any map or park or trail information that you desire is available online. Do your research and print whatever you need from home, or store the information on your phone. Or, call ahead for information.
- If where you are going requires a pass, check if you can purchase one online, instead of in-person.
- Bring snacks and water with you from home, instead of trying to get them on your way to your hike.
- Wash/sanitize your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
- This is not the time to try anything new or daring, where the risk of injury is higher than normal. Emergency services are already stretched thin. Don’t make things worse.
- If you feel ill, even if not with COVID-19 symptoms, or if you have been in contact with anyone with symptoms, or confirmed to have the illness, STAY HOME.