Updated: Dec 12, 2020
As the country continues to combat COVID-19, it’s important to make sure you and your household are ready for a “new normal” which will dictate how we all live for the next several months and in the near future. As a family, you can plan and make decisions now that will protect you and your household in braving a post pandemic world.
We have compiled a list of helpful tips and verified information to help you and your family stay safe and COVID-proof your homes.
Household Health Tip #1: Educate yourself and your household
In a time of pandemic, correct and timely information may spell the difference between life and death. It’s important to make sure everyone at home is always updated with the latest scientific news and practical, helpful information about COVID-19 from trusted sources. It is everyone’s responsibility to educate themselves about COVID-19 symptoms and thus, prevent the spread of COVID-19. An example of this is knowing that cleaning and disinfecting are NOT the same.
Under the new normal, cleaning is not enough anymore. (Read here to know more about the difference between cleaning and disinfecting.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a set of helpful guidelines focused on household settings and are meant for the general public. They emphasized the importance of knowing the difference between simply cleaning and the new must: disinfecting. According to CDC:
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Household Health Tip #2: Clean and disinfect with the right products
Practice regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, handles, remote control, tables, desks, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and others with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants. First, clean surfaces to remove dirt and debris. Then, disinfect and sanitize using only EPA-registered disinfectants. Check out this simple guide on disinfectant products for more information on what kind of disinfectant you should use according to your needs.
Household Health Tip #3: Make sure you carefully practice safety protocols when coming home
If possible, it is best to stay at home and only go out when necessary. When you do need to go outside, you must observe certain guidelines to avoid bringing any possible trace of virus that may have attached to your clothing or items. Be sure to leave your shoes outside. Then, wash your hands and other exposed areas. Avoid touching things immediately around the house and avoid making immediate contact with people at home. Take a shower immediately and change your clothes. Be mindful of the things that were used outside so you don’t contaminate the house after cleaning and disinfecting. Ideally, you should clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces whenever someone from your home comes home from outside.
Household Health Tip #4: Clean and disinfect properly
Be sure to follow the disinfectants’ instructions when using it on different kinds of surfaces and materials. For hard (non-porous) surfaces, it is best to use gloves which should then be disposed of after each use. If you’re using reusable gloves, make sure you dedicate this set only for COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting to avoid spreading contaminants and microbes. Thoroughly clean hands after removing gloves. CDC advises, “For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.” (A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available here. Biotab7’s EPA Registration Number is 91399-2)
It is important to note that you always read and follow the directions on the label to ensure safe and effective use. For soft (porous) materials like rugs, carpet, and curtains, CDC advises community members to launder these items as appropriate in accordance with the item’s indicated instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
Household Health Tip #5: Clean and disinfect your cell phones and other devices
Filipinos spend more time on the internet than any other people in the world. It’s no secret we’re fond of our gadgets, mostly using it for social media like Facebook and Instagram or to surf the web. It follows then that cell phones are probably the most frequently touched object out of all our belongings in the house. CDC advises people to clean electronics such as phones, tablets, and touch screens, by following the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. If none is available, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays with at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. You could also consider using wipeable covers for your electronics to avoid damaging the actual material or gadget.
Household Health Tip #6: Laundry for clothes and linens
Laundering items, especially those that were used outside like clothes or handkerchiefs, should be done properly under the new normal. Set apart a designated area for these items and do not shake dirty laundry to avoid the possibility of dispersing virus in the air. Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is also recommended by CDC to launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting and to dry items completely.
Household Health Tip #7: Hand hygiene
We’ve all heard this a thousand times over in the news on TV, online, in our Facebook feeds, in countless articles, but there’s a reason why everyone is insisting on this. This is because proper hand washing is still the most effective way to avoid getting infected. “Household members should follow normal preventive actions while at work and home including recommended hand hygiene and avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands,” advises CDC. You should also clean hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, and after contact with animals or pets.
Household Health Tip #6: Consider having misting or bio-fogging services done at your home or community
For those with bigger households or businesses they regularly check on and visit, misting and bio-fogging for at least once a month may be a good preventive measure to avoid bringing viruses at home. Misting and bio-fogging quickly and effectively destroy bacteria, viruses, and fungi, are safe around fabrics, furniture, and food environments, and are non-hazardous to human health when operated properly. The advantage of using these methods is that they clean and disinfect in one step and are able to cover large areas as well as reach even hard-to-reach nooks and corners.
Household Health Tip #7: Boost your health and immunity
It’s also important to remember that it’s best to stay strong and healthy from the inside out. Combine practicing external preventive measures with an internal immunity boost by sticking to a healthy diet and regular proper exercise. With the lockdown in place, it’s become easier to prepare fresh home-cooked meals. And while we barely had time to fit in exercise before with our busy schedules and time-consuming commute, we now have the opportunity to exercise and work out at home. These are also helpful in improving your mood and mental health during such a stressful time. Being healthy physically and mentally is a must, perhaps more than ever, in a time of pandemic. Prepare nutritious and balanced meals consisting of vegetables, fruits, rice or carbohydrates, and protein like chicken and fish. Always consult with your doctor to make sure you’re receiving the proper amount of nutrients you need to function at your optimal capacity.
Household Health Tip #8: Take special care of high risk people
Everyone is at risk for getting COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus. Some people are more likely than others to become severely ill, which means that they may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die. The risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to limit interactions with other people as much as possible and take precautions to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.
Household Health Tip #9: Keep children safe and healthy
Make handwashing a family activity and model preventive measures to your children to reinforce these practices to them. Help them stay active and healthy and take this opportunity to spend time with them to help them deal with what’s happening in the world. It’s very important to support them and help them cope with emotional and social stress brought upon by the pandemic.
Household Health Tip #10: Limit errands or going out
Staying at home is still one of the best things we can do not only to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe but to contribute to society and alleviate the pressure on our worn out healthcare workers. Family members should leave only when absolutely necessary. According to CDC, essential errands include going to the “grocery store, pharmacy, or medical appointments that cannot be delayed (e.g., infants or individuals with serious health conditions in need of aid).” If you must leave the house, designate one or two members that are not vulnerable or at a lower risk of getting infected. Wear a mask and avoid crowds. Practice social distancing and use forms of transportation that minimize close contact with other people (walking, biking, riding your own car alone or with another household member.)
It’s important to remember that these are just some of the preventive actions you can take to decrease your chances of getting infected with COVID-19. In summary, you can take everyday preventive measures by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, maintaining social distance outside (at least 6 feet or 2 arms’ length), cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, and wearing a mask in public.
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