How to Get Outside While Social Distancing

May 21, 2020

Many South Carolinians have spent the last few weeks at home practicing social distancing. As the weather gets nicer and warmer, people may be thinking about how to get outside to explore our state safely. 

Getting outside to enjoy fresh air and get exercise can have major health benefits including helping with your immune system. 

If you do go out, be sure you follow any guidelines from the governor’s office and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control*. 

Here are a few things to think about when planning how to explore South Carolina safely. 

Hunting Island Hover image

Follow Guidelines on Preventing the Spread 

Stay at a distance from others even when you are outside. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention* (CDC) recommends allowing 6 feet (about two arms’ lengths) from people outside your home. Don’t gather in groups and avoid places that are crowded.

When you are out and about, be sure to follow other guidelines from the CDC for preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as covering your mouth when you cough, wearing a mask in public places and washing your hands regularly or using hand sanitizer. Do not go out in public if you are sick or have symptoms. If you are in a high-risk group, consider getting outside in your yard or close to home. For ideas to stay healthy at home, see our blog post here.   

Go for a Nature Walk 

Starting this month, the South Carolina State Parks reopened to visitors. This makes it easier for residents to get out and explore the state safely. There is a state park in almost every county in the state, meaning there is a place nearby for every South Carolinian to appreciate nature. 

Be sure to check each park’s policies, as they have altered rules or capacity limits. Playgrounds will remain closed until June 1.  

Restrooms in the parks may be closed. Be sure to use the bathroom before you leave home. 

There are plenty of great parks to visit for a good nature walk. In the Upstate, consider Keowee-Toxaway State Park, which has moderate hiking trails with a view of the lake. In the Midlands, Dreher Island State Park has three trails that offer views of Lake Murray. In the Lowcountry, Hunting Island State Park has 5 miles of beach and 10 trails for exploring the coastal region. 

Practice Trail Etiquette 

While you are out in public or using public trails be sure to practice trail etiquette. 

  • Leave no trace: When you are outside in public bring your own trash receptacles and take out what you bring with you. 
  • Bring your own water: You’ll likely get hot being outside. It is South Carolina after all. Make sure you bring your own water so you do not have to touch water fountains. Park stores may also be closed.
  • Keep cleanliness supplies with you: Bring your own hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes in case you need to clean your hands or an object.  
  • Try not touch anything: Handrails, trail benches or signs may not be cleaned often so try not to touch anything you don’t need to touch. 
  • Follow rules on how to share a trail: Make sure to read up on guidelines for safely sharing a trail and knowing when to yield to let others pass here.
Keowee-Toxaway Hover image
hiking Hover image

Visit Uncrowded Beaches 

If you live within driving distance of a beach, you can consider visiting the beach while keeping your distance from others. Remember, it isn’t a good idea to travel far away from home right now. Keep in mind that it can be hard to safely wash your hands at the beach so don’t touch anything you don’t need to touch. If you cannot maintain a safe 6-foot distance from others, then it isn’t a good idea to be on the beach or in that public space. 

See South Carolina by Boat

If you have access to a boat, kayak or canoe, it can be a perfect time to get outside to see the state from the water. Currently, state parks are not renting boating equipment, so you have to bring your own. But if you have access, getting outside for a paddle can be good exercise and relaxing. On the plus side, it can be easy to stay 6 feet away from others in kayaks, canoes or on paddle boards. 

Make sure you do not pull up your boat near other boats or up to crowded beaches. Even on the water, practice safe social distancing guidelines. If you have a larger boat, limit those aboard to people you live with and remember to wash your hands if you have to touch anything in a public place such as a marina. 

It is possible to get outside and safely explore South Carolina while taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. After all, a little sunshine and fresh air can have major health benefits

*The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are independent organizations that provide health information you may find useful.

This article contains links to third party sites. Those organizations are solely responsible for the contents and privacy policies of their sites.

Boating on Lake Murray Hover image

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