We’ve cancelled all playdates, parties and trips to indoor play areas. But we still have playgrounds, don’t we? They’re outdoors, there’s sun, there’s wide space? Isn’t that OK? Is it safe to go to the playground during this Coronavirus pandemonium?
Well, sadly to say, the simple answer is one big fat NO!
Stay at home, the government tells us. Yes, I’m all for flattening the curve and keeping to ourselves. But try telling this to an over-zealous, super energetic toddler who practically needs to run a daily marathon before calming down to sleep.
We live in an apartment so at the moment our only option for kiddie exercise is youtube fitness videos or installing a gigantic hamster wheel. Sure, we can head to a patch for grass for frisbee or to kick a ball but if that said-grass has a playground within sight, there is no way that I’ll be able to keep my energiser bunny away.
Is it safe to go to the playground?
So if you come across an empty-ish playground, what’s the biggie? Is there really a virus threat here?
Well, the big problem is that the playground equipment may be a cesspit of invisible germs and unless you have a whole box of antibacterial wipes (which we know are paper gold at the moment), to hygienify all the surfaces, it’s probably best to just keep away.
According to an excellent report in Fatherly, we don’t have enough knowledge to really know how readily surfaces contaminated with the virus can spread the germs.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges that most Coronavirus cases have emerged from direct person-to-person contact. However, they have warned that the infection could most likely be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces.
But if you really can’t avoid the playground, Fatherly has put together a guide of which equipment are the main culprits in spreading the virus.
Plastic Is NOT Fantastic
Avoid anything plastic in the playground. Stay away from those brightly coloured slides, tunnels and other interactive activities made from plastic. Out of all the materials in the playground, plastic equipment are those that will most likely to retain the germs on its surface.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Princeton University, and the University of California Los Angeles experimented with dropping small amounts of COVID-19 on various surfaces to see how long it would survive. Their research, which has not yet to be peer-reviewed but has been published on MedRxiv, found that the virus lasted longer on plastic than on any other material they tested.
It took a whopping 16 hours for half of the Coronvirus germs to die and even after 2 to 3 days, traces of the virus were still found on the surface.
This isn’t exactly new news and previous studies have shown that other viruses can survive on plastic surfaces for up to 9 days.
Be Cautious With Metal
There are certain metals, such as copper, which is inhospitable to viruses but others are just as bad as plastic. In the same study, it was discovered that COVID-19 lasted just as long on stainless steel as on plastic. However the virus only lasted about 4 hours on copper.
What About Wood?
There hasn’t been research to measure how long COVID-19 germs would last on wood. With bacteria, wood’s tendency to absorb moisture, is likely to dry out bacterial organisms. However, previous studies showed that other viruses, including SARS, lasted up to 4 days on wood.
Sand Is The Pits
Stay well away from the sandpit. There is no specific science behind how long Coronavirus would last in a sandpit. However, it’s common knowledge that sandpits are riddled with germs and parasites. In a previous study, it was found that out of 26 different surfaces sampled, sandboxes contained more germs than library books, toys at doctors’ offices, or even the door handles of public restrooms. Double Yuch!
It is important to note that all these experiments are conducted in a laboratory, while outdoor playgrounds are usually exposed to the sun’s rays, which tend to kill off viruses. However, it is not known whether COVID-19 is actually destroyed by heat or sun so we shouldn’t assume that a sunny empty playground is safe.
Scientists have since discovered that Coronavirus could be spread via petrol pumps and reusable plastic bags so we need to just assume that anything you touch would be infected with virus.
The outtake of this whole thing is sadly to stay away from playgrounds. Let me know if you find out who sells giant hamster wheels.
How are you planning on keeping your kids active during this time? Tell us in the comments below?