Social distancing isn’t something that most kids easily understand, especially at a theme park. It’s vitally important, though, for you and your family to stay 6 feet apart from others while experiencing the fun. Here’s what you should know before you go with tips to help kids feel prepared for a safe day at the park.
Why Social Distancing Matters
As communities begin to reopen, it’s still important to maintain proper social distancing. Staying at least 6 feet away from anyone outside your household is especially important because of easy spread in the community.
Although experts are still learning how, evidence shows that it can spread from person to person through prolonged, close contact. Coughing, sneezing, talking and even singing can propel droplets from an infected person into the air. These droplets then go into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.
Social distancing helps limit this type of transmission. Maintaining physical distance is even more important if a person is not yet showing symptoms or have been infected but never develop symptoms.
How Theme Parks Are Working to Keep You Safe
Every Theme park will have its own policy for reopening and hosting guests again, but in general, most will be implementing important safety measures to help your family maintain social distancing and have fun while staying safe.
These measures may include:
Limiting daily capacity
Reducing operating hours
Requiring masks for staff and visitors
Restricting extra attractions such as behind-the-scenes tours or meet-and-greet events if offered
Presenting a new format for shows, parades and special events
Offering hand sanitizing stations throughout the park
Limiting capacity and seating in dining areas
Marking 6 feet social distancing in lines
How to Help Kids Succeed With Social Distancing
Social distancing can be challenging for kids to do. Children from toddlers to teens connect by hugging, sharing things and feeling physically close to one another. While Theme parks have put new practices in place, planning ahead and considering the following strategies will help you and your children have a safe experience:
Be a role model.
Kids learn best from other people, so modeling the behavior you’d like them to practice is really important. Practice social distancing yourself — among other safety measures like frequent and proper hand-washing — to set a good example.
Give them something to control.
Providing specific guidance on what your child can do to prevent infection offers them a sense of control, which can reduce anxiety. For example, explaining that they can help protect themselves by staying 6 feet apart from others gives them something constructive and positive to focus on.
Keep explanations age-appropriate.
Providing brief reasons for social distancing will be adequate for younger children, but adolescents and teens may benefit from more detailed discussions to communicate how their social distancing can help protect them, their loved ones and community.
By explaining how social distancing can help prevent the spread of illness, it helps kids of all ages understand why staying 6 feet apart from others is important for your entire family’s safety.
Let your child’s questions guide you.
Allow time for your child to ask you questions about their upcoming theme park visit and how it will be different from what they may have experienced before. Answer their questions truthfully, but don’t offer details or facts that aren’t relevant.
Make it fun and work together.
Devise games, such as having a funny “code word” when a family member is getting too close to another person or bring rewards for every time you find your child distancing correctly. Find ways to make social distancing a fun challenge and your kids will jump on board.
Point out theme park rules.
Show your child what the park is doing to keep people apart so they can understand and follow the rules. For example, some theme parks might have floor markings to show people where to sit or stand, whereas another may use floor markings to show people where not to gather. Use positive, straightforward language to explain the day’s boundaries and rules.
Additional Safety Strategies
Social distancing is one of the best ways to prevent contracting or spreading infection, but there are other ways that you and your family can stay safe while still having fun. If you’re planning a trip to the theme park, follow these CDC guidelines:
Stay home if you or anyone in your family is sick.
Use a cloth face covering to cover your mouth and nose when around others, even if you do not feel sick.
Use restrooms or hand-sanitizing stations to wash your hands often with soap and water or sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash your hands immediately.
Be alert for symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched items, such as your phone.
Remember to Plan for the Heat, Too
With high temperatures at parks around the country, it’s critical you know how to identify indicators of heatstroke when you’re outdoors at a theme park.
Typically, heatstroke happens as a result of not consuming enough fluids and when your body temperature gets too hot. Protect your body from heatstroke by being mindful of the following symptoms:
A body temperature of 104° F or higher
Headaches, confusion or trouble thinking clearly
Muscle cramps or weakness
Skin redness and warmth
Vomiting or diarrhea
If you experience these heatstroke warning signs, relocate to an area that will cool your body temperature down, drink fluids and seek medical advice immediately.
Family fun can be in your summer plans if you take a few precautions and have an open discussion about them with your kids. And if you ever need to access health care while traveling away from home, know that we’re here to support you at AdventHealth for Children and any of our locations.