COVID-19: At this point, it feels like it’s all anyone can talk or think about. It’s on the news twenty-four-seven, it’s all over our social media feeds, and it’s making us all more anxious. And now, with some states relaxing their social distancing guidelines, many people are even more nervous about community transmission. With no vaccine and no proven treatment (yet), going back to life as we once knew it feels scary. Thankfully, although there’s no 100% effective method of preventing infection (other than total isolation), we do know how to avoid coronavirus. Check out these best practices for keeping yourself, as well as the people you encounter, safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How To Avoid Coronavirus: The Basics
Per the CDC and the WHO, the best ways to minimize the risk of transmission are:
- Maintaining appropriate social distancing. Stay home except for essential trips out. If you must go out, maintain a minimum distance of six feet from other people. Avoid large gatherings (they’re still banned in most places).
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you’re around others, like at the supermarket or doctor’s office. If you’re self-quarantining at home because you have or believe you may have COVID-19, wear it to protect other members of your household.
- Cover your mouth when you cough, sneeze or clear your throat. Try to use your elbow rather than your hand. When you’re finished, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Be sure to wash and disinfect any surfaces in your home that others touch. For example, if you’re getting groceries delivered, be sure to clean your doorbell or door knocker before you touch it again.
- Stay home if you aren’t feeling well, even if your symptoms are mild. If you’re experiencing a fever, cough, or breathing difficulty, call your doctor or local walk-in clinic before going in.
- Avoid touching your face unless you’ve just washed your hands.
- Keep in mind that you could be an asymptomatic carrier of coronavirus and transmit it to other people. Behave as though you have it, even if you’re sure you don’t.
- Wash your hands often, using soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water aren’t available.
The Importance of Proper Handwashing
That brings me to a very important point: how to avoid coronavirus with proper handwashing techniques. Sure, it’s (hopefully) something you’ve been doing several times a day for most of your life, but are you doing it correctly? Here’s a quick refresher course on how to wash your hands well enough to kill any coronavirus particles on them:
- Use clean water from your tap to wet and rinse your hands, rather than plugging the drain and filling your sink.
- Lather your hands with soap, and wash front and back, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. You should scrub for twenty to thirty seconds before rinsing.
- Be sure you rinse your hands clean of all soap.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or an air dryer afterward.
Here are two things you can worry less about, per the CDC: acquiring an antibacterial soap and scalding your hands with hot water. Antibacterial soap won’t kill viruses, including COVID-19. And the temperature of the water you use doesn’t seem to make a difference, so use whatever feels most comfortable. You may want to keep a pump bottle of hand lotion handy for after these frequent washings, as they can dry your skin.
Check out this helpful video tutorial on proper handwashing technique:
Do-It-Yourself Coronavirus Prevention Tools to Avoid Getting Sick
During the pandemic, practicing good hygiene in public includes wearing a face mask and using hand sanitizer. Of course, it would be easier to adhere to these guidelines if hand sanitizer were easier to come by! Until the shortages are resolved, try this recipe for DIY hand sanitizer. It’s simple and quick, and you can use essential oils for fragrance if you like.
The CDC and other experts have strongly recommended that we all wear face masks and practice other safety tips while in public to avoid coronavirus. Some places have chosen to require face masks, like doctors’ offices, supermarkets, and other businesses. You can buy an inexpensive one online, or you can wear your own homemade face mask. Note that you shouldn’t try to acquire an N95 respirator or surgical mask, as we should reserve those for healthcare workers on the front lines. Children under the age of two and anyone who has trouble breathing should not wear a mask.
You should avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your mask. Toss it in your washing machine for a cycle before wearing it again. You can let it hang to dry if you don’t need to wear it again right away.
To Avoid Coronavirus, Stay Informed
Experts call COVID-19 the “novel” coronavirus because it is new to us. Because there are still so many scientists who don’t know about it, safety recommendations are changing all the time. While it can be tempting to go off the grid when the headlines are so gloomy, it’s important to stay informed about coronavirus and how to avoid transmitting it.
That doesn’t mean you need to make yourself anxious by reading or watching every news story. And there certainly is nothing wrong with avoiding people’s panicky Facebook posts. Self-care is more important than ever right now, and the twenty-four-hour news cycle adds to our collective growing anxiety. So while it’s a good idea to give yourself a regular coronavirus update, don’t immerse yourself. Review the newest safety and health recommendations … and then go do something else that helps keep you centered.
It’s difficult to navigate our lives these days, maybe more so than ever before. Remember to take it one day at a time and to listen to the experts. In other words, keep calm and wash your hands! You’ve got this.
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