As parents prepare their kids to enjoy this year’s summer camps, it’s evident that a lot has changed from the previous summer. As a result, not only will the camp organizers need to prioritize the health and safety of all the attendees, but they will also need to stick to all the CDC guidelines for operating summer youth camps.
To give youth camp administrators and coordinators a feel for what it takes to operate a safe youth camp program this summer, we’ve summarized the guidelines, disinfection steps, and checklist for cleaning and disinfecting all the areas within the camps.
The CDC has also released a readiness and planning tool meant to prevent COVID-19 transmission among campers, staff, and members of the public. The goal behind the layered prevention strategies is to ensure initial preparation that promotes healthy behaviors, well-sanitized environments, and safety-oriented operations that won’t pose any health risks to all involved. And while COVID-19 is the main focus at the moment, thorough disinfection will also kill bacteria, fungi, and other viruses, preventing serious infection and potentially severe health complications.
Guide to Cleaning and Disinfecting Summer Camps
Just like any other facility designed to accommodate a group of people, summer camps are subject to the cleaning and disinfection guidelines stipulated by the CDC. As per these guidelines, when there are no people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, proper cleaning using soap or detergent once a day is enough to remove viruses on surfaces and help maintain a healthy facility.
However, you cannot always rule out the chances of having asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in your camp. That means regular cleaning with soap and water may not be enough. You can kill the COVID-19 virus and other germs by disinfecting all surfaces using an EPA’s list N disinfectant such as HaloMist™. To ensure the best cleaning and disinfection results, youth camp administrators and coordinators must develop a plan for cleaning and disinfecting summer camps so that an outbreak, such as the one in recent weeks at an overnight camp, does not occur.
Developing a Cleaning and Disinfection Plan
The first step is to identify all the types of surfaces around the camp area. Classify these surfaces according to the frequency at which people come in contact with them – i.e., high-touch and low-touch surfaces. Often, high-touch surfaces are located in high-traffic areas and should be cleaned first before using a disinfectant. It’s best to evaluate these spaces and surfaces to ensure you aren’t wasting disinfectants on those that are either very low-risk or that won’t be economical in the long run – for instance, disinfecting groundcovers or sidewalks.
Next is to carefully consider the equipment and resources needed for cleaning and disinfection. Besides choosing the right disinfectant rated for a wide range of viruses, bacteria, and germs, you also want to make sure the cleaning personal are supplied with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Last but not least is to choose the right disinfecting techniques based on the type of surfaces and the design of the camping area – i.e., whether all or some of the structures are located in an indoors or outdoors setting. If there are shared electronic devices such as computers, phone charging devices, etc., always use a disinfectant designed for use with electronic products. The HaloFogger® is safe to use around electronics.
CDC Checklist for Disinfecting Summer Camps
To ensure every summer camp has adhered to the highest standards of safety guidelines, below are some of the CDC general readiness assessment checklists that camp administrators should keep in mind. In other words, camp organizers should:
- Obtain EPA registered cleaning and disinfection supplies such as the Halo Disinfection System®
- Use a disinfectant that is approved on the EPA List N for COVID-19 such as HaloMist™ All-Purpose Disinfectant (EPA Reg. # 84526-6)
- Obtain no-touch soap/hand sanitizer dispensers
- Create a cleaning schedule for: frequently touched surfaces such as desks, railings and door handles, buses or other transport vehicles, communal spaces such as restrooms, shared objects such as gym equipment, etc.
- Develop protocols to ensure correct and safe use and storage of cleaning and disinfection equipment and supplies, including storing products away from children.
- Monitor and restock cleaning and disinfecting supplies, where necessary.
- Monitor adherence to the cleaning and disinfecting schedule of all the camp areas and surfaces daily.
- Ensure there’s adequate ventilation when cleaners or disinfectants are used.
- Immediately disinfect all the areas used by a sick person (i.e., in case someone gets sick), including outdoor areas or shared objects where necessary.
While the right choice of disinfectants will kill viruses and germs on surfaces, they shouldn’t be used on humans. Instead, soaps and hand sanitizers should be used to clean and sanitize hands regularly to minimize the chances of transmitting viruses or other germs and infections.
Besides choosing the right disinfecting and sanitizing equipment, such as the Halo Disinfection System®, camp administrators should also encourage campers to always follow good public health practices. In addition, education and awareness of all the COVID-19 safety protocols, including what to do and who to report to in case of health complications, will help ensure a successful and safe summer youth camp experience.