Hygiene Hacks to Know, Now More than Ever!
At the time of writing this article, the case count for Malaysia is at 20k. For families and households all over the country, even everyday chores and tasks have become sources of anxiety due to fear. In all fairness, we have the right to be fearful, for the risks of infection are real! However, panic and misinformation aren’t helping. In fact, constant widespread misinformation about the virus just adds to the stress of having to filter fact from fiction when trying to keep our loved ones safe.
So far, we know that the COVID-19 virus is spread mainly when respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing, sneezing, talking, etc) find their way into the mouth, nose or eyes of others, within a meter’s range. Now, we also know that it’s possible to be infected and not have any symptoms, yet be able to infect others.
We know too that we can be easily infected by touching our mouth, nose or eyes after touching surfaces contaminated with the virus, and that the virus may survive on surfaces for a few hours up to several days!
The good news is, the virus can be killed via proper and thorough disinfecting, and this is what we are about to share with you, right now. So, let’s take a look, or, more precisely, let’s recap a few important facts about keeping our families and ourselves safe.
Mind your personal hygiene
Simple hygiene measures can help protect your family’s health and everyone else’s as well. For instance, hand-washing when and where applicable should not be neglected. It’s troublesome, we know, but the simple act of washing your hands may likely save another person’s life, as well as your own. Don’t forget to sanitise your things too, such as your keys, wallet, handphone, etc, as soon as you get back home.
Stop touching your face
If you have read this article from the top, for obvious reasons, we should avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth. This is actually easier said than done, for without realising it, we tend to touch various areas of our face either out of habit or as a reaction to something, such as an itch,or even to pop a pimple, pick our nose, etc. This actually does take some discipline and a strong intention to try and be aware of your actions, and thereby avoid touching your face.
Need to cough or sneeze? Here’s how to go about it
You can’t avoid coughing and/or sneezing, but you can and must adhere to some important etiquettes, which by the way, should be part of our best practices anyway. When you feel a cough and sneeze coming on, get ready to cover your mouth and nose with your elbow, or use a tissue for that. If you use a tissue, dispose of it immediately, and do not re-use it.
Social distancing saves lives
Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people outside your household. Why? Because the Covid-19 virus is capable of moving through the air to a distance of a meter. Hence, if an individual happens to be carrying the virus, or, if an infected person happens to cough, sneeze, shout, etc, keeping a meter away from him or her will save you from being in contact with the virus, or being infected.
Wear a mask when you go outdoors
It’s been a norm for us since early last year, and still, people are being fined for not doing so! You’ll have to mask up, and there are no two ways about it. You might have to, however, wear a double mask if COVID-19 is widespread in your area. Your mask should be worn in all public settings; a double mask where it is difficult to keep a physical distance from others.
Pay close attention to your health
No one is exempted from getting infected, so do not take anything for granted. You should always be alert for any symptoms of COVID-19 in yourself and your family. Seek medical care early if symptoms develop, and stay home except to get medical care. Symptoms include a fever, headache, nausea, and all other flu-like symptoms.
Keep your hands clean, always
If you’re fed up with hearing it, well, that’s too bad, because we’re about to say it again – wash and/or sanitise your hands whenever you need to. Keeping your hands clean is, after all, the best defence mechanism and it literally helps to save lives. Think about it – you do almost everything with your hands, hold, touch, feel, handle, work, gesture, etc. Your hands are exposed to countless situations, all the time. Hence, keeping your hands clean, will, simply put, help save lives.
If using a hand sanitiser, ensure that it contains at least 60 per cent alcohol, ensure coverage on all parts of the hands and rub hands together for 20-30 seconds until hands feel dry. If hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water. By the way, did you know that cold water and warm water are equally effective at removing germs and viruses from your hands — as long as you use soap and wash your hands the right way!
Cleaning around the home
Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home regularly is an important precaution to lower the risk of infection. Follow cleaning product instructions for safe and effective use, including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation.
Keeping high-touch surfaces clean and safe
While we understand that no two homes are alike, some very common high-touch surfaces include: door handles, tables, chairs, handrails, kitchen and bathroom surfaces, taps, toilets, light switches, mobile phones, computers, tablets, keyboards, remote controls, game controllers and in household with little children, favourite toys.
If a surface is dirty, first clean it with soap or detergent and water. Then use a disinfectant product containing alcohol (of around 70 per cent) or bleach. Vinegar and other natural products are not recommended.
In many places it can be difficult to find disinfectant sprays and wipes. In such cases, continue to clean with soap and water. Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used on some surfaces.
It’s important not to wipe cleaning solutions off as soon as you’ve applied it to a surface. Many disinfectant products, such as wipes and sprays, need to stay wet on a surface for several minutes in order to be effective. Always read the directions to make sure you’re using the products as recommended and to avoid damaging sensitive items such as mobile phones and other electronic devices. Consider using wipeable covers for electronics.
Laundry hacks for extra protection
It is currently unclear how long the COVID-19 virus can survive on fabric, but many items of clothing have plastic and metal elements on which it might live for a few hours to several days.
Exercise caution and common sense. Good practices to consider include removing your shoes when you enter your home and changing into clean clothes when you return home after being in crowded places and washing your hands with soap and water immediately afterwards.
It’s important that you clean your family’s bed sheets, towels and clothes regularly. When handling the laundry, avoid shaking dirty laundry items – this will help minimize the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air. Launder items with soap or detergent, using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely — both steps help to kill the virus.
Wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, immediately afterwards.
If you need to use a public laundry facility, take sensible precautions:
Firstly, sort out your laundry items beforehand at home, to minimize the time needed to spend outside. Try to use the facility when there are fewer people there. When you are there, maintain your social distance from anyone else there. Wear disposable gloves if available, and disinfect the surfaces of all machines you use. And, need we remind you, so please don’t touch your face?
If it’s possible to wait outside for your laundry to be done, do it, and bring your laundry home for folding.
Handling and preparing food
Presently, there is no evidence of people catching the COVID-19 virus from food or food packaging. The greater risk comes from being in close contact with other people while outside food shopping or receiving a food delivery (as receiving any delivery in areas with local transmission).
When dealing with food ordered or brought in from outside, here are some useful tips:
- Remove any unnecessary packaging and dispose into a waste bin with a lid.
- Remove food from take-out containers, place it on a clean plate and dispose of the container.
- Packaging like cans can be wiped clean with a disinfectant before being opened or stored.
- Wash unpackaged produce, such as fruit and vegetables, thoroughly under running water.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, immediately afterwards.
- Hygiene tips when preparing meals
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing any food.
- Use separate chopping boards to prepare uncooked meat and fish.
- Cook food to the recommended temperature.
- Where possible, keep perishable items refrigerated or frozen, and pay attention to product expiry dates.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating and make sure your children do the same.
- Always use clean utensils and plates.
Article sourced from: www.unicef.org/coronavirus/covid-19