As the death toll for Covid passes the 1 million mark and is still increasing, I hope this article will serve as a reminder for us to stay safe and be healthy.
Keeping our homes safe is a top priority in this time of pandemic. The Coronavirus, being highly infectious, can spread easily between family members and visitors. The good news is, it’s not expensive or difficult to “pandemic-proof” your home; all it takes are some basic supplies, and a few temporary changes in your routine (until the pandemic is over, hopefully soon)!
Here are the key steps to take:
- Disinfect “high-touch” surfaces, don’t just clean them
- Leave footwear outside, and change / wash-up as soon as you get home
- Do not use fans when family members are gathered
- Set aside a sick room if anyone is ill
- Don’t beat or shake fabrics to clean them
- Wash items with hot water when possible
- Don’t hoard, but stock up to minimise exposure
- Choose no-contact for delivery services
1. Disinfect “high-touch” surfaces, don’t just clean them
The Coronavirus can survive for two to three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces, and up to 24 hours on cardboard. Just touching a surface that the virus is on can transmit it; as such, the National Environment Agency (NEA) advises that “high touch” surfaces to be thoroughly wiped with disinfectants.
Some examples of this include:
- Door knobs
- Electronics such as TV remotes and game console controllers
- Utensils, glasses, and mugs
- Countertops where you dine or prepare food
- Toilets (especially flusher buttons or handles)
- Light switches
Note that disinfecting is different from just cleaning. Disinfecting means you should use one of the products recommended by NEA to cover the surface, and then carefully wipe it down (use gloves in the process).
Simple cleaning, such as going over the items with a wet rag, may not remove the virus.
2. Leave footwear outside, and change / wash-up as soon as you get home
Whenever you go outside, there’s a risk of exposing your clothes or footwear to the virus. As such, it’s best to leave your shoes outside your home. If you cannot leave your footwear outside, give it a quick wipe down with disinfectant, before bringing it into your home.
Advise your family members to shower as soon as they return, and change into fresh clothes – this is in case the virus is on their apparel.
3. Do not use fans when family members are gathered
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that well maintained ventilation systems, such as air-conditioning*, should not increase the risk of virus transmission. However, this is different for fans.
Fans are best used only when there’s one occupant in the room; avoid using them in areas where many family members are gathered. If you must use vans, open a window to allow the circulation of fresh air into the room.
Also, try to avoid situations where the fan is blowing air directly from one person to another (e.g. two or three people sitting on one sofa, with the fan directly blowing from one side of the group).
*The WHO advises temperatures be set at between 24 to 27 degrees Celsius, with humidity at about 50 to 60 per cent.
4. Set aside a sick room if anyone is ill
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises setting aside sick family members in their own room. This is to minimise the chances of spreading it to the rest of the family.
Have one designated caretaker for the ill person; try not to have multiple family members go in and out the room.
This is especially important if anyone else in your family is high-risk, such as the elderly; maintain their distance from the sick person until recovery.
5. Don’t shake or beat fabrics to clean them
As mentioned in point 1, the Coronavirus can remain alive on surfaces for many days. So when you’re cleaning fabrics, such as bedspreads, carpets, or clothes, avoid shaking or beating them. While it may get rid of dust, it also causes any viruses to circulate into the air.
On a related note, remind your children to avoid activities like pillow fights, or jumping on the bed / sofa when such furniture hasn’t been cleaned yet.
6. Wash items with hot water when possible
Hot water is best as it can help to kill the virus. For homes where there have been confirmed Covid-19 cases, for instance, the NEA recommends the person’s bedsheets, pillow cases, etc. to be washed at 70 degree Celsius for at least 25 minutes (if you must use low-temperature wash, be sure to use chemical disinfectants).
The CDC suggests using hot water whenever practical for cleaning. It may be a good time to consider getting an automatic dishwasher – this is because dishwashers can clean your plates at higher temperatures than you can manage by hand.
Newer condo units have heaters for the kitchen, to get hot water from the sink faucets – you can use this to soak plates, mugs, utensils, etc. for 10 to 15 minutes after washing them (but be careful not to scald yourself).
7. Don’t hoard, but stock up to minimise exposure
The fewer shopping trips you need to make, the lower your odds of exposing yourself to the virus.
As such, try to minimise the number of times you visit the supermarket, mall, convenience stores, etc. Try to stock up enough materials to keep your visits weekly, or twice a week.
Remember though, it’s not necessary to hoard things like toilet paper and eggs!
8. Choose no-contact for delivery services
If you’re using food or grocery delivery services, it may be a good idea to protect your home by choosing a “no contact” option. Simply inform the delivery company that you would like your purchases left at the door, where you can pick them up after the courier leaves. This will minimise contact, and the chances of the virus entering your home.
(Some apps allow you to select no-contact as an option).
Whatever the layout or size of your home, you can pandemic-proof it with these simple steps. I’ll admit some of them entail a bit of extra inconvenience; but it’s well worth the cost of keeping our families safe.
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