5 Ways to Get Outside Safely in the Time of COVID-19

These are crazy and confusing times for many of us here in Northern Nevada. Businesses are closing their doors, employees are working from home, and friends and families are refraining from socializing as they normally would for the foreseeable future. The next few weeks may be challenging and disappointing; especially as trips and events we looked forward to are cancelled, and our daily routines are disrupted.

Here at the Parks Foundation we understand and empathize with that feeling, and we’d like to remind you that you’re not alone. Local businesses, restaurants, and malls may be closed, but our parks, trails, and open spaces are not. We invite you to embrace social distancing, go outside, and explore the natural spaces around you!

The benefits of going outside, even for just a half hour a day, are numerous. Spending time outdoors can enhance your creativity, strengthen your immune system, sharpen your focus and concentration, and boost your mood! Our campaign, Healthy Parks, Healthy People, emphasizes the important, holistic connection between the health of our parks and the health of our community. We believe now, more than ever, that this connection will prove vital to helping us get through this season of uncertainty. Use this unexpected change in your routine to rediscover the natural world around you, and allow it to help you refocus on your goals and refresh your body, mind, and soul.

Picture: 2019 AmeriCorps VISTA Adrienne Juby checking out some local flora

Here are some tips to help you make the most of the parks while keeping yourself and others safe!

1. Follow CDC health guidelines, even in outdoor spaces!

Please maintain the recommended 6ft of space between yourself and others. When passing one another on walking paths, be as respectful as possible. Give adequate warning if you are approaching someone from behind and need to pass. If running or walking toward another person, move to different sides of the path to ensure passing room.

2. Leave No Trace

Being a good steward means taking care of our parks and open spaces.. If there is no trash can in sight, carry your garbage or dog waste with you until you can dispose of it properly. Make sure to leave your open spaces cleaner than you found them. When dealing with litter or trash, always wash your hands afterwards!

3. Stay Up To Date On Announcements, Closures, and Cancellations!Some outdoor recreation areas may be closed due to health standards or group size restrictions. For example, some tennis courts or kids’ playgrounds may be closed off to public use for a time. Follow this link for more information about structures that may be temporarily closed in our local parks:

https://www.washoecounty.us/parks/upcoming_events_and_programs/

4. Have a Plan When Hiking Solo

Hiking in solitude can be relaxing and enjoyable. You get to observe

things you may not have normally paid attention to while chatting with a friend on the trail. You can hear how the wind sounds when blowing through the pines. You can see that little fence lizard scurry across the path. You can feel the beat of your heart as it matches the tempo of each step you take. In order to maintain your own safety when starting your solitary hiking adventure, follow these four steps: Always tell someone where you are going. Check the weather. Make sure you are appropriately dressed for the environment. Fully charge your phone. Failure to plan is a plan to fail!

5. Connect With Other Park Pals Virtually!

We may not be able to share our adventures with one another in person, but we love being tagged in photos from our fellow Park Lovers! We’d love to hear about your new discoveries, so feel free to mention @tmparksfoundation in your photos and use our hashtags! #tmtrailschallenge, #healthyparkshealthypeople, #sundayinthepark

We hope that despite the challenges of the next few weeks, this can be a time to slow down and notice the beauty around you. Find peace in solitude. Reach out to your loved ones, even if it can’t be in person right now, and use your parks to: Rediscover. Refocus. Refresh.

Picture: Oxbow Nature Study Area

Additional Resources:

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/70548/11-scientific-benefits-being-outdoors

https://www.nrpa.org/blog/keeping-a-safe-social-distance-in-parks-and-on-trails

https://www.washoecounty.us/health/programs-and-services/communicable-diseases-and-epidemiology/educational_materials/COVID-19.php

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