There are two types of people in this world: those who mourn the end of long summer days and those who embrace the crisp autumn air and all the activities that come with the season. Think apple picking outings, hiking, leaf peeping, and family camping trips. As with any activity, safety—especially as the coronavirus pandemic continues—should be a priority. However, even with additional precautionary measures in place, there is no reason you can't enjoy some fall fun this year.
Visiting apple orchards and pumpkin patches are celebrated autumn pastimes. So, enjoy it! Just be sure to do so with caution.
- Contact the orchard ahead of time to confirm they are open and limiting the number of people admitted. To ensure social distancing, many orchards now require online reservations to control the amount of people visiting the orchard at once. These precautionary measures provide a safer environment for you and your loved ones.
- Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize! If there's one thing that consistently happens in an apple orchard or pumpkin patch, it's people touching the fruit, deciding it's not worth it, and moving along to the next one. Keep hand sanitizer on you and reapply regularly.
- Mask up. Apple and pumpkin picking is an ideal activity for social distancing. It's outdoors and easy to stay away from others in large orchards. But, there's always a risk of someone encroaching on your personal space. A little precaution can go a long way.
- Don't climb trees. It may seem like the best apples are at the top of the trees, but it’s not worth breaking a bone trying to get the perfect one.
- Although there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food, it can persist on surfaces so it may be best to wipe down all fruit prior to taste testing or wait until you can wash it at home.
A trek through the woods or up a mountain is an ideal way to enjoy the beauty of fall foliage while getting in some exercise. Plus, it has the added appeal of natural social distancing!
- Go with a friend. Hiking alone, especially if you're less experienced, is dangerous. A companion provides support if the unexpected, such as an injury, occurs. Of course, make sure your buddy is someone who respects public health guidelines for coronavirus.
- Only hike in the daylight. Besides the increased potential for getting lost, it is also much more difficult to avoid pitfalls and injuries in the dark. If you want to go on an extended hike, leave in the morning and give yourself plenty of time to get back before sunset.
- Bring the necessities. This includes water, snacks, navigation tools, an emergency kit, and extra layers. Nature is unpredictable, so it's best to always prepare for the worst.
- Bring a mask in case you come in close contact with other hikers.
Camping is more popular than ever as people look for vacation options that don't include flying or staying in a hotel. Whether roughing it or “glamping", it's an invigorating way to get back to nature.
- Research your campsite. Make sure you are well-versed in the terrain, the wildlife, and area risk factors such as natural disasters. Understanding your surroundings is a key component in camping safety.
- Put out your campfire properly. With the number of record-breaking wildfires, often due to human cause, everyone needs to do their part. The United States Department of Agriculture has clear instructions on how to put out a campfire.
- Leave no trace. This concept, which is found on the National Park Service's website, is exactly what it sounds like. Respect the environment around you by doing such things as not disturbing the surroundings and properly disposing of waste. This not only protects the environment, but also ensures that the campsite remains a healthy place for you and other visitors to return to in the future.
Be considerate of others and keep your mask on hand. It is clear that this fall will be a little different from previous ones, but we can still enjoy all it has to offer. No matter how you choose to embrace the crisp autumn air, always speak to your doctor about any health concerns that come up before or after you partake in any activity.