Beach bound? How to avoid germs at the beach

HOUSTON – You may be thinking about heading to the beach for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but you still want to be safe.

Being outside and enjoying nature is a tradition for many families. The beaches in our area are open and being outside in the open air is a pretty safe place to be.

“Basically it has to do with air circulation,” said Dr. Catherine Troisi, Epidemiologist, UTHealth School of Public Health. “You still need to maintain your physical distance, six feet. If someone is infected and they are spewing out the virus, it’s going to get diluted very quickly.”

Watch for crowded spots

While it may be easy enough to keep six feet away from people on the beach, you need to think about potential choke points getting there. Consider crowds in the parking lot, sidewalks, or seawall.

"Its easier to do it some places than others,” Dr. Troisi said. “That’s where I would be concerned if the beach was too crowded.”

Should I wear a mask on the beach?

When it comes to masks, our expert says you don’t have to wear a face-covering all of the time. But, be prepared just in case you need it.

“You might want to have one handy in case someone comes too close to you or you really need to go to the restroom and you will be around people,” she explains.

Can UV rays kill coronavirus?

Whether or not the sun kills COVID-19 is still being researched but since most viruses die with UV Rays, Dr. Troisi says this one is probably the same.

“Five to 10 minutes (in the sun) should be fine,” Dr. Troisi said. "There’s UV light whenever there is sunlight, I don’t mean direct sunlight, even when it’s cloudy, that’s why we wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy, people are exposed to those rays.”

The idea of UV rays killing off coronavirus is a bit controversial. The World Health Organization (WHO) addressed this on its myth busters page. They say: “Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25C degrees DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease.”

You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is.

Can you get coronavirus in the water?

So what about the water? There are claims that infected people can release the virus into the water while swimming. For example, if someone who is sick ingests the water and someone nearby ingests that same water while they are swimming. Our expert says - that’s not true.

“There are very few things I would say absolutely not, but that is one of the few. You cannot catch coronavirus from the water,” Dr. Troisi said.

Bring Hand Sanitizer or Wipes

Don’t forget to bring a hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes for those restrooms or snack breaks. If you are wiping down a surface, wait about a minute for it to dry.