COVID-19 Preventative Measures: Improving Personal Health Habits
While we’re doing our part to help people, professions, and even entire countries hit hard by the coronavirus, it’s clear that we still can’t do it all. While our ACT units are providing a valuable resource for cleaning and reusing PPE and other small frontline items, there’s simply no substitute for the cooperation and good practices that everybody can do, every single day.
After all, we can’t sanitize a whole bus, an entire wardrobe of work clothes, or all the foods in a grocery store. There are surfaces that UV-C isn’t good for (like your skin). But the good news is that there are some easy ways to ensure you and your loved ones can stay as safe as possible throughout this pandemic, and others that may occur in the future.
It’s been the theme of 2020 so far: staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other people outside your immediate cohort. It’s simple, but it works, so just keep your distance when out in public! Staying away from other people in close quarters was part of flattening the curve in the spring, and has helped countries like Canada avoid uncontrollable outbreaks such as the ones we see elsewhere.
Also: Go Contactless
Whether you’re paying for groceries or picking up a pizza, the option to go contactless is always welcome. The less you have to touch while doing your errands, the less chance of getting an unwanted pathogen on your hands. So tap your card, politely avoid that handshake, and go for drive-thru instead of sitting in a restaurant.
Handwashing & Hand Sanitizer
This is hardly controversial – washing your hands properly is the single most effective measure you can take to stop the spread of COVID-19 (and other diseases). That means at least 20 seconds of soap, lather, and scrubbing between all fingers, under your nails, and up to your wrists before rinsing off.
In the absence of proper handwashing facilities, bring hand sanitizer with you. It’s not quite as effective, but it’s much better than nothing. A good sanitizer should be at least 70% alcohol, and used before eating or handling anything that others may come into contact with. Remember to get under your nails, too!
Also: Avoid Touching Your Face
Sometimes, supplies run low and you may not have immediate access to soap, sanitizer, or even cloths and towels. So, a good rule of thumb is to stay aware of where your hands are: a common method of infection is transfer from a high-risk surface, like a door handle, to your eyes, nose, or mouth after an inadvertent touch. By keeping your hands away from your face and being careful, you can reduce your risk substantially.
Cover Your Mouth
This is something that we teach our kids when they’re young – how to cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze. The best practice is not into your hands, since those touch so many items throughout the day. Rather, use the crook of your elbow or a single-use disposable cloth or tissue.
Use Proper PPE, Mask, & Glove Practices
Surgical and cloth masks, contrary to belief, are not meant to protect you from infection – they are intended to stop you from breathing respiratory droplets out into your surroundings and infecting others (surgeons use them to avoid inadvertent transmission to their patient’s tissue during operations). Masks, gloves, face shields, and other PPE coverings can be effective in mitigating the spread of disease, but there’s a caveat – they have specific protocols to be effective, and most people do not use them correctly.
Here’s an in-depth guide on best practices for wearing, removing, and disposing of common PPE items, without increasing the risk of infection.
Other Healthy Habits
It’s not all about stopping the microbes in their tracks. In general, our own bodies also have protections against sickness, so it’s important to be helpful in that first line of defense with our own immune systems.
Make sure you are getting enough exercise, sleep, and nutrition for your body to stay in good condition, as those are all useful in maintaining health. If you’re buying fruit and vegetables from the store, make sure you wash them thoroughly before eating – viruses like SARS-COV-2 can live on surfaces for days, so waiting a few days is not enough in itself. Wash clothes and take showers frequently, especially if you’re in a high-risk, front-line job.
And remember, measures that protect you also protect your family and loved ones – so the more we all come together to act decisively, the sooner we can emerge on the other side of this pandemic.