The novel coronavirus spreads very easily, so by leaving your house just a few times a week to grocery shop, walk outside or grab takeout at your favorite local restaurant, you may become unknowingly infected with the virus. You might feel that you are being very cautious when you leave your home by wearing a mask and gloves, but you might not be doing enough to protect yourself inside your own home.
Defending your home against COVID-19 is another key factor in staying safe and not spreading the virus to others. Below are preparatory steps you can take at home to keep yourself and others safe.
15. Take Precautions When Returning Home
Anyone who leaves the house for work or goes anywhere else needs to take precautions when they return. They cannot just walk back into the house as they would have previously.
A change of clothes and shoes should be kept in the car. Once anyone arrives home, they should change out of their clothes before they enter the house. A garage is a good place to do this. If there is a washer or dryer in the garage, clothes can be placed directly into the washer. If this is not an option, place a hamper in the garage to put your clothes. Make sure that you clean the clothes hamper every time you wash clothes. Clothes should be washed in the warmest water possible (per the manufacturer’s washing instructions). Make sure to not shake out your clothing, as the virus can become airborne. Once you are inside the house, take a shower immediately.
14. Create an Isolation Room
No matter what precautions are taken inside or outside the home, it is important to prepare if someone in the household does contract the virus.
If someone does become infected with the coronavirus, there should be a space for that member of the household only. “Since COVID-19 is highly contagious, an infected person shouldn’t move around the entire home and spread the virus everywhere. The room should be as empty as possible so that the virus doesn’t stay on surfaces too long. Also, the room should have a window or a balcony to ensure that fresh air can easily enter the room.” says Nikola Djordjevic, MD, co-founder of HealthCareers.
13. Designate a Caregiver
When someone is using the isolation room, whether they tested positive for the virus or if they are showing symptoms, only one person should be allowed to have contact with them. This will lessen the chance of spreading the virus. The caregiver should wear a face mask and gloves. Hands should be washed immediately after caring for the sick, and clothes should be changed. If possible, a hot shower is a good idea after each encounter. Everyone in the household should monitor their symptoms and temperature frequently.
12. Wipe Down All Surfaces Daily
Multiple studies have shown that the virus can live on surfaces from a few hours to days. Disinfecting your home daily is very important; even letting one day pass without cleaning surfaces can cause potential infection.
“Buy Lysol or an aerosol equivalent to spray fabric furniture, bedding, and sheets daily. And replace sheets frequently,” says Kim Langdon, MD, a medical advisor for Parenting Pod.
Non-wood floors, furniture, painted wood, door handles, refrigerators, microwaves, stoves and anything else that is touched should be cleaned with a 25% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 3 parts water). For wood items, wood-safe cleaners should be used.
11. Keep Hand Sanitizer by the Front Door
All the steps you take will not matter if the other people in your household do not take their own measures. A hand sanitizer station by the front door will remind individuals to use the sanitizer before they leave and when they return to the house.
10. Separate Toothpaste for Everyone in the Household
Most people forget about dental products while thinking about coronavirus safety. Most families share a single tube of toothpaste. Typically, this is fine, but during the pandemic
Elizabeth Cranford Robinson, DMD, recommends that each person have their own toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Viruses can be spread through toothpaste from different brushes. Make sure to replace and disinfect toothbrushes, floss and storage containers for these dental items.
9. Stock Up on Pet Items
Make sure to have enough of your pet’s food and medication. Don’t forget about kitty litter, potty pads or any other items that your pets use daily. A 30-day supply is recommended so you don’t have to make multiple trips outside the household. If possible, purchase these items online.
If you contract the virus and you have a pet, wash your hands before and after contact with your pet and wear a mask. Although it is unknown which animals are susceptible to the coronavirus, a tiger in a zoo has tested positive.
8. Be Cautious with the Items You Bring into Your House
It is impossible not to bring new items into your home. You need to consider these items as possible carriers of the virus. If possible, items should be left outside for three days to prevent the virus from transferring into the home. If that is not possible, double bag items so the outer bag can be removed and discarded. Wipe down all items before they enter the home.
7. Wipe Down Food Containers from Takeout and Delivery
Supporting local food businesses at this time is a great idea. Most places deliver, and Uber Eats now offers a “Leave at Door” delivery option. This may seem like a safe way to get your food. Yes, it is safer due to the fact that you do not have to go into public to get your food, but don’t get too comfortable. Remember to wipe down the outside of containers from all delivery and takeout orders. If the utensils are not in plastic wrap, do not use them. Do not use the napkins provided either. Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning the containers, and transfer the food immediately to new containers if you have any available.
6. Disinfect Your Car
The vessel that connects you to the outside world is your car. If you are not cleaning your car, you are risking contaminating your home. If the virus is lingering in and on your car, closing your car door can transfer the virus to your front door. To prevent this, wipe down your car’s steering wheel and handles inside and out.
5. Use a Humidifier
Because the virus is new, there is still a lot more research that needs to be done to understand it. There is early evidence that suggests using a humidifier may make it harder for the virus to spread. Other similar viruses, like influenza, spread more easily when the air is dry. Set your humidifier to 50% to possibly prevent the spreading of the virus.
4. Clean Your Phone
Your phone is probably the item you touch the most every day, and if you are stuck at home, you are likely using it more often than ever before. Clean your phone every time you come and go from your house. Do not let others use your phone.
To clean your phone, power down the device. Unplug all accessories and remove the phone from its case. Use disinfecting wipes that contain 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean both the phone and the case. Do not use paper towels or other abrasive materials that could damage your phone.
3. Wash Your Hands Throughout the Day
Masks, gloves and hand sanitizers all help prevent you from spreading the virus. But the best way to stop spreading the virus is by washing your hands with soap and water.
The CDC recommends washing your hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands after you have been in public and after touching your face, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
2. Have Sick Household Members Wear a Mask
Anyone who has contracted COVID-19, or suspects they have contracted it, should be wearing a mask in your home, even if they are isolated in their own room.
“This will limit the virus spread by limiting the infected exhalations going into the air. These droplets of saliva with the virus can remain airborne and expose others who are breathing the same air. Masks prevent this aerosol spread of the virus as the infected person breathes.” says Kim Langdon, MD.
1. Do Not Let Others Inside Your Home
Every person that comes into your household could bring COVID-19 with them. Anyone who does not live in your house should not be invited inside.
This is difficult, but it is necessary to prevent the virus from spreading. Talk with friends and family on the phone or video calls. If friends and family come to visit, stay in the front of the house and maintain social distancing standards of six feet.