In the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis, playgrounds across Canada are temporarily closing or being recommended to avoid. This is an important measure to help limit the potential spread and further impact of the virus.
However, as the weather starts to warm, it will be important to ensure our current parks and playgrounds stay as clean as possible. Although we will all be practicing social distancing if we go to the park - and only once we are collectively permitted - the virus will still need to be managed.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that “Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in community settings.”
This means that park and playground equipment will need regular deep cleanings and sanitization routines, which are two different strategies according to the CDC. Where cleaning is identified as the “removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs.” However, removing germs on these surfaces will help reduce the risk of infection because of a reduced total amount of germs.
Sanitizing, or disinfecting, surfaces doesn’t necessarily remove dirt or germs, but it does use chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. So effective playground maintenance must include both cleaning and disinfecting efforts.
Start by cleaning with your regular cleaner, detergent or soap and water to remove the germs and impurities.
Then sanitize. There are three ways you can disinfect these surfaces:
- Most common US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered household disinfectants, like Clorox, will be effective. You can find a list of these products and approved ingredients on the EPA website.
- Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol should be effective, as well.
- A diluted-bleach solution can also be used, though with caution. Be sure the surface is appropriate for bleach, and you are mixing it appropriately. The CDC recommends preparing a bleach solution of 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water (or 4 tsp bleach per quart of water).
Adding extra cleaning and disinfecting strategies into your playground maintenance routine will play a key role in helping reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19. For more information, visit the COVID-19 resources pages on both the CDC website and EPA website. Be sure to also stay up to date with the latest recommendations for preventative measures from the Government of Canada.
As we all adapt to these challenges, let’s work together to keep our parks a clean and safe way to have fun, with social distance.