With the onset of the second strain which is more contagious than the first, we must be even more vigilant when going outside, but one of the basic necessities is making sure our families have enough food each day. So if you are staying home to avoid exposure, there is always that run to the supermarket that we can’t live without.
So how do we cope. Let’s discuss the safest ways to stay healthy and safe when outside.
Knowing the Danger
The danger resides in people, not the food. You may be worried about picking up the virus from things like the conveyor belt or carton of eggs, but the biggest risk is being indoors with people who are infected. While getting the virus from contaminated surfaces is entirely possible, the bigger risk is inhaling respiratory droplets. You should focus on staying at least six feet away from people and getting in and out of the store as fast as you possibly can. Make sure you make a list and go through the store as efficiently as possible.
It is vital to cover your face, especially the nose and mouth and is mandatory in many states. This can reduce the risk of contracting the virus by 75% if you, as well as others around you, are wearing it. If you are infected and don’t know it, it can save other people from contracting the virus too.
You should always try to go to the store alone. Bringing another person will just crowd the aisle and increase the risk of your household getting the infection too. If there are three people in your family quarantining together and all three head to the store, you have essentially tripled the risk by three.
Sanitize Your Hands and Carts
When you are in the store, the first thing you should do is to sanitize the handles of the basket or cart since they are high-touch zones. While many stores are doing it for customers already, it definitely will not hurt to bring your own disinfecting wipe or sanitizer. Make sure to avoid touching your face until your hands are sanitized again.
Make sure to not use your phone while you are there either.
Gloves Aren’t as Effective as You Think
Gloves are not magic shields that make you invincible. A lot of people wear gloves all day long but go around doing normal activities. If you have touched a contaminated service with gloves, it is contaminated too. If you handle your phone, food or anything else with the same gloves, it will become contaminated too. Frequent washing and sanitizing your hands is a better strategy.
Giving the Cashier Space
Grocery shopping may be stressing you out, but the workers in the store are under greater stress since they are interacting with customers indoors all day long. Make sure you stand as far away as you can, at least six feet during checkout.
Go for No-Touch Payments
Using no-touch options like Google Pay or Apple Pay is better. If not that, you can also use a credit card with a chip reader. You should try and avoid cash as much as you can since it can harbor plenty of microorganisms that could be harmful. If you do use your credit card or cash, you should make sure to sanitize everything after the transaction.
Disinfecting Groceries Shouldn’t Drive You Crazy
You may have heard of extensive routines to disinfect your groceries in many viral videos. But most experts agree that hand-washing and disinfecting each item is not really that necessary. The probability of getting infected through a contaminated surface is fairly low. The respiratory droplets have to land on the exact spot that you are touching, you need to get enough residue to start the infection and then transfer the virus to your face.
The bottom line is that all you need to do is to follow hygiene practices such as washing your hands while unpacking, before cooking and after you are done eating. Time is also on your side. After 24 hours, depending on the surface, most virus strains are not infectious and after 72 hours it is in extremely trace amounts. So you can leave your groceries on the shelf for a couple of days and it should be fine. However, you should wipe down your countertop after you are done unpacking your items.
If you do want to wash the groceries, you should not use disinfectant wipes or sprays. It’s better to use soap and water. Fresh produce should also be rinsed in water before consuming, but not soap! Ingesting soap is definitely a bad idea.
If you have people who are at greater risk (such as seniors, immune-compromised or children), you should definitely shower when you come back home and change out of your clothes. Otherwise, washing your hands and changing your clothes is enough of a precaution to protect you.
If you are still anxious after ensuring all of the tips above, you should consider ordering online. You can pay ahead and maintain social distancing. Just make sure to tip the delivery man generously since these workers are putting themselves at risk for you.
These are simple precautions you can take that will reduce your chances of getting infected. It certainly won’t hurt to become a germaphobe while we continue to endure and adapt to this current environment.