Clean Corners: Tips to Keep Your Home Virus-free

Set sanitation and safety protocols within the household to strengthen your family's protection against COVID-19.

With a family to take care of, staying strictly at home can be a difficult task. But whenever you leave your house for work or buy groceries, you run the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and bringing it back to your home.

The virus spreads mainly through respiratory droplets from an infected person when they cough, sneeze or talk. However, you can also be infected when you touch surfaces contaminated by the virus and proceed to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.

As you can't visibly see how the virus lingers on door handles and food packets, you must take extra caution so that you won't compromise your family's safety upon returning home. Thankfully, disinfectants can eliminate the grease-like hold of viruses and bacteria.

Here are some tips and reminders to ensure that your household stays virus-free.

When you're outside

To minimize the risks whenever you're heading out, you should follow a set of protective measures to secure your safety and prevent you from becoming a possible carrier.

1. Wear a mask

You must wear face coverings or medical masks that effectively cover your nose and mouth area. It should be secured under your chin and shouldn't leave gaps at the sides. Always wash and sanitize your hands before wearing your mask. The World Health Organization (WHO) also advises against masks that have exhalation valves as these let unfiltered air escape and increase the chances of virus transmission.

Should kids also wear masks?

It is best to consult first with local authorities and protocols within your area. However, WHO and UNICEF have advised that children under five years of age should not be required to wear face masks.

2. Use plastic bags to temporarily store masks

Observe proper use, storage, and disposal of your face masks to maintain effectiveness. When you need to remove your mask, you should only hold them by the ear loops or ties and dispose of them immediately in a trash bin. For temporary removal, you can place them in a clean and resealable plastic bag.

3. Wash your hands

Frequent handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent COVID-19. Make sure that you're washing your hands properly to prevent infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises washing your hands for at least 20 seconds or the length of singing the happy birthday song twice.

4. Carry hand sanitizer

In cases wherein soap and water aren't available, using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is advisable. After you've applied the sanitizer on your hands, rub them for 20 to 30 seconds until they dry off.

5. Practice safe social distancing

Whenever possible, maintain a meter or 6-feet distance away from others outside of your home. This distance gives just enough space to prevent direct transmission when a stranger coughs or sneezes within your vicinity. Avoid crowds that could be potential ground for infection as people can be carriers of the virus without showing symptoms.

Reminders inside the home

Without preventive measures, the unwanted viruses and bacteria may enter your household. Below are some guidelines you can practice at home.

1. Leave shoes by the door

A study conducted by the CDC on the medical staff of a hospital from China suggests that the novel coronavirus can be carried through the soles of shoes. In most cases, shoes would be an unlikely source of transmission. But for families that have kids who often play on the floor, it would be highly advisable that you practice leaving shoes outside the home.

Changing out of your outside clothes and disposing of them in one area is also good practice if you have older family members who are at most risk of infection.

2. Disinfect laundry bags and hampers

As a precautionary measure, you may also disinfect your laundry hampers at home from time to time. Although it is unclear how long the virus can survive on fabric, they are known to survive for 2 to 3 days on metal and plastic surfaces. You may also consider storing laundry on disposable bags.

3. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces

Disinfect "high contact" surfaces in your house, such as doorknobs, handrails, toys, computers, and mobile phones. This practice becomes necessary when a family member presents symptoms. You may use alcohol-based wipes or sprays and regular household detergent to sanitize appliances and surfaces. Please take note that it's important you don't immediately wipe off cleaning solutions. Some disinfectant products need to stay wet on the surface to give them time to take effect.

4. Ensure rooms are well-ventilated

It is widely known that the virus can spread through the respiratory droplets produced when a person sneezes or coughs in the vicinity. But health authorities such as WHO and CDC have also recognized that aerosol transmission could also infect people who are more than six feet away in enclosed spaces.

Aerosols are small respiratory droplets that are less than 100 micrometers in diameter. These smaller droplets can remain suspended in the air for several hours without proper ventilation. To make sure that indoor spaces are safe, open windows and doors to have adequate air circulation.

5. Ask visitors to wear masks

Receiving visitors is discouraged during this time. But for essential trips, people that aren't part of the household should wear masks during their visits as they may be asymptomatic carriers. As much as possible, keep the visits short in well-ventilated rooms and observe physical distancing.

6. Practice contact-free delivery

The CDC reveals that mails and packages present a very low risk of spreading the coronavirus. Viral particles are shown to only survive on cardboard surfaces for up to a day. When you receive deliveries, you may simply leave them in an isolated place for several hours before opening them. Just make sure to wash your hands afterward.

Close contact with delivery persons has also been shown to present more risk rather than the packages themselves. As a safer alternative, you may opt for a contact-free delivery wherein your parcel is left at your doorstep or outside your home.

When you buy food secured in a plastic package, you should also disinfect the delivery first with alcohol wipes. Or transfer the food to a clean container and dispose of the packaging.

Lay down these reminders at home and keep your family's safety intact. During this time, we all should do our part to adhere to safety protocols and help pave the way for a safer environment.

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