Parents look for ways to keep toddlers happy while avoiding smoke from Camp Fire

Friday, November 16, 2018
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Parents are looking for ways to entertain restless toddlers while keeping them safe from the unhealthy air quality in the Bay Area.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- The smoke is making it tough on parents of kids who haven't yet reached school age. The need to get restless kids out of the house, but still keep them safe, is pumping up the bottom line at playschools and toddler gyms across the region.

LIST: Schools closed in Bay Area due to Camp Fire smoke

For example, we saw parent after parent after parent going in when ABC7 News pulled up outside the Kids Gym location in Berkeley. And for one main reason: "It's very smokey outside and it's not so smokey in here, so it's nice," said Madeline Giscom, who brought her 1-year-old daughter, Rosalie.

Dozens of kids showed off their healthy lungs with screams and squeals in the filtered air inside the building -- without breathing in a chest full of smoke. That's why Jonathan Kevles brought daughter Lucia here.

"We're trying to find a place, other than home, with good air for her to play in, because she needs to bounce around," he said.

Because when they're bouncing around here, they're not bouncing off the walls at home.

RELATED: Check current Bay Area air quality levels

Kids Gym charges $15 per day for the toddlers and $12 for their siblings. And owner Barbara Brodrick says business has been booming:

"The busy days would be like 300 kids and on a normal day, would be 100 kids. The last few days we've been averaging 750 kids, not including their parents," she said.

That's the opposite of what you'll find at many outdoor play grounds in the Bay Area. There were just three kids playing at this Walnut Creek play structure when we arrived.

One mom blamed the smoke. "We cannot stay long. We have to stay just a few minutes and go back," said Aita Koopahi.

RELATED: Does wearing a mask when it's smoky outside work?

Otherwise their health can suffer.

"She has been coughing a little more than usual. I'm not sure if it's the smoke or a cold, but it definitely makes me nervous," mom Madeline Giscom said of her daughter.

For more stories and videos related to the Camp Fire, visit this page.