Home quarantine is one of the best ways to “flatten the curve” in slowing down the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. However, many of us find it unavoidable to leave our homes in order to run essential errands, such as grocery shopping, or engage in limited outdoor recreation. This puts us at higher risk of acquiring or passing the virus itself.
With these in mind, here are the following tips that will help you stay safe from the coronavirus if you are leaving the house:
Avoid using your fingertips
When opening a door, pushing a button or digitally sign for something, use body parts other than your fingertips.
For instance, you can use your elbows or wrists to flip on a light switch or sink faucet. When you have to physically pull open any door, wrap the sleeve of your sweater or jacket around the handle. Rather than expose your skin to the virus, it is easier to toss your clothing into the wash later.
Keep your distance
Social distancing does not always mean staying holed up at home and not seeing family and friends in person; it can also mean keeping a distance from other people when you have to leave the house.
Keeping a 6-foot distance from people outside your closest circle applies to waiting in line at the grocery store, going on walks and picking up food to go.
Look for automatic options
Most buildings have accessibility buttons that open doors for those with mobility problems. These can be touched using your forearm, hip or foot, and wait for a few seconds before the doors open.
An automatic soap dispenser will save you the troubling thought of germs being transferred to the pump.
Check where you put your phone
Although we can disinfect our phones, it is also best to avoid placing yours on shared, frequently touched surfaces. Instead of taking it with you in the bathroom, keep it secure in your coat pocket or purse.
When near a shared surface, place a napkin and set your phone on it, saving you the hassle of disinfecting it often.
Pay attention to your shopping
Bringing your own totes, mesh produce bags or washed plastic offers you some protection because you are the only one handling them, keeping you from touching a basket or shopping cart. However, other people might feel uncomfortable with the thought of you bringing your own bag/s, and some stores discourage doing it during outbreaks.
If you do have to use the store’s baskets, carts or bags, thoroughly wash your hands before you leave home to avoid infecting others, bring sanitary wipes (if you have them) to wipe down the basket or cart, and wash your hands again once you are home.
Avoid using bare hands to sort produce
When sorting through produce, rather than touching it using your bare hands, bring and wear gloves before doing so.
Toss larger cloth bags into the wash to sanitize them after shopping, and store smaller plastic or biodegradable bags for future use. Thoroughly wash your hands and any produce you use when you get home.
Greet people safely
When greeting family members, friends or neighbors, resist the urge to hug, pat on the back or handshake them. Instead, you can do non-physical greetings such as the Spock salute and the peace sign.
Even if you are fine personally, social distancing is a compassionate way to protect those in vulnerable demographics, including your elderly relatives and people with health complications. You may not know if the person you greeted has a compromised immune system or some underlying health problem.
Wash your hands
Along with social distancing, washing your hands thoroughly is your best defense against the coronavirus. Scrub your hands thoroughly each time you come back home. The recommended washing time is 20 seconds, which seems long, but is easy to do if you wash slowly.
Take care of your car and home
After doing your running errands, it is a good idea to wipe down your car and surfaces at home. The virus is commonly transmitted from person to person, but it can also spread through objects and other forms of indirect physical contact.
Carry extra napkins and other paper products
Although normally used to wipe your hands, spare napkins, disinfecting wipes, wet wipes and other paper products that can be used to clear away germs, act as a barrier between you and a surface. For example, these may come handy when you are opening a door if you see someone who coughed into their hands before touching the knob or handle.
Though it is believed that the virus can be acquired via person-to-person transmission, it can thrive in shared surfaces, which include cold, hard cash. So set aside your cash for the time being, and use contactless payments instead.
There are large numbers of payment terminals that accept Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and credit cards with contactless logos on them. Rather than using your index finger, you can use your knuckle if a digital signature is required. For physical (handwritten) signatures, bring your own pen.
Set aside unneeded items
Studies have found that the coronavirus can cling to surfaces such as your jacket or table top for up to 9 days at room temperature. However, the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) found that the virus RNA remained in cabins aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship for up to 17 days after its passengers departed.
A mix of soap and water is guaranteed to kill the virus, but if you are not sure about how to disinfect an item, like a dry-clean-only jacket or a pair of boots, it is best to set it aside for 3 to 4 weeks.