While we do not know exactly when life will go back to normal after all the stay-at-home orders and quarantining, we are all hoping that it is sooner rather than later. But, what is life going to look like after we all emerge from quarantine, head back to work and send our kiddos back to school? Are there some things that we have learned during this pandemic that we should continue to implement long after it is over? Here are some healthy habits to continue after the quarantine is over.
Wash Your Hands
This one is kind of a no brainer, but we should continue washing our hands just as thoroughly as we were during the COVID-19 outbreak. There are certain times when washing your hands is extremely important, including before and after preparing food, after interacting with an animal, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing into your hands or after handling garbage, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This practice will prevent us from transferring germs and bacteria throughout our homes, workplaces, gyms and even grocery stores long after the pandemic is over.
The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, in between your fingers and under your fingernails to thoroughly cleanse your hands. To time yourself, you can sing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself twice!
Be Cautious Around High-Touch Surfaces
Surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets and faucets are all considered high touch surfaces by the CDC. These areas are touched by many people daily, and they could be harboring harmful bacteria. Even after stay-at-home orders are lifted, continue to sanitize and disinfect these surfaces well and wash your hands after touching them.
Disinfectants will kill germs on surfaces better than just soap and water. Cleaners like diluted household bleach solutions or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol will work well for most hard surfaces like countertops, doorknobs and light switches, according to the CDC. If you need to sanitize something that is soft like clothes or furniture coverings, wash them in your washing machine with detergent and hot water. Always remember to wear gloves while using disinfectants or harsh chemicals.
Take Caution With What You Bring Into Your Home
One thing that COVID-19 has taught us is to be careful in high traffic areas like grocery stores or shopping centers. While capacity limits will eventually be expanded in stores as the country heals, it will still be important to take health precautions while buying groceries, new clothes and even home goods, or else you run the risk of bringing unwanted germs into your home. For example, when you are shopping in any store, only touch what you are going to buy to decrease the transfer of germs between different items. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends washing your fresh produce and sanitizing all groceries right when you get home from the grocery store.
Self-Quarantine While Sick
Due to the nature of the COVID-19 virus, if you test positive, it is imperative that you self-quarantine yourself for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus to others. While not all illnesses require that kind of self-isolation, it is still a great practice to stay home if you are sick. Many workplaces and schools encourage workers and students to stay home if they are feeling sick to prevent others from getting sick, and hopefully this pandemic has shown us the importance of that request.
Sneeze and Cough Into Your Elbow
This use of the elbow has been recommended for years in order to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. One of the ways that germs travel through a space is through sprays and splashes.
“Sprays and splashes occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes, creating droplets which carry germs short distances (within approximately 6 feet),” according to the CDC in “How Infections Spread.” “These germs can land on a susceptible person’s eyes, nose, or mouth and can cause infection.”
When sneezing or coughing into your elbow, you greatly decrease the amount of germ-carrying droplets sprayed into the air, which could prevent those around you from getting sick. So, using your elbow as a sneezing and coughing shield is a healthy habit that you should continue not only to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus but to prevent the spread of all sicknesses and germs.
Overall, this world-wide pandemic has caused great loss for many people in many different ways. However, we have gained more knowledge and healthy habits to take with us into the future.