Can I Decontaminate from Coronavirus?
May 20th, 2020
5 minute read
Depending on who you ask, COVID-19 is the scourge of the earth, highly overhyped or even a hoax. Some believe it’s imperative to force everyone to stay home until it’s “safe,” even if it costs small business owners and regular American employees their ability to provide for their families. Others on the other end of that spectrum think no precautions whatsoever are necessary, and don’t plan on doing anything to protect themselves from something they don’t even believe exists. In this great nation, we all get to choose where on that spectrum we wish to be.
This article, however, is for those of you in the middle of the bell curve, those who can’t or don’t want to stay home anymore but still want to protect yourself and your families in a responsible and reasonable way. If you’re looking for a few common-sense things you can do to lower your exposure while not looking like you’re about to rob a stagecoach or enter a clean room, read on.
Clean Your House
Your house doesn’t have to be littered with the snack remains of quarantine Netflix bingeing to be a harbor for disease — and not just COVID-19, either. If there’s anything we’ve had shoved down our throats during all this, it’s how dirty the world is. Unless you plan to live in a bubble for the rest of your life, you can’t change that.
What you can do, however, is make sure that your home is clean. You might be rolling your eyes now; of course, your house is clean. Your countertops are sparkling, and one could eat off of the floor. The dishes are done, as is the vacuuming, and everything is in its place.
That’s great! When was the last time you wiped down your light switches? Doorknobs? Desk? Phones? Toilet handles? Faucets? Window latches? Anything else you touch throughout a day? If you bring home dirty hands, the infestation of your home with those germs begins the second you touch your front door handle. Everything you handle or touch in your home is now a potential breeding ground for filth.
You don’t need to get crazy with it all or drown everything in bleach; just start wiping down those extra things whenever you clean that room. Be mindful of the things you touch — and clean them.
Protecting Your Space
Now that you’ve cleaned your house, it’s time to keep it safe. What’s the point of going to the trouble of wiping down touch surfaces and keeping things disinfected if you’re just going to ruin it all by being sloppy immediately afterward?
One thing you can do to “disinfect” yourself is to decontaminate when you come home from somewhere that you may have been exposed. Keep in mind that this isn’t going to somehow drop your chance of infection to zero, and it’s not going to eliminate whatever risk there is. It will, however, decrease that risk and make things a bit more difficult for the virus.
Here’s what I do when I come home from working at the hospital:
- Enter through a side door that is away from high traffic areas in my home, and close to my laundry room.
- Strip off all clothing immediately, from my shoes and socks to the hair tie holding my ponytail. All clothing, including my jacket, goes into the washer right then. Obviously, this gets a bit more complicated if you have a bunch of people in your home. And be sure to close your window shades!
- Everything that I had with me stays at the door. I have a specific bag I take to work, and the items in it stay there. They don’t come into the rest of the house — including those shoes. Those are my “work shoes” right now.
- I go straight to the shower. I do not pass go, do not collect $200, and I do not hug or get within six feet of my spouse. When I come out, I put on fresh clothes, and use a Clorox wipe to go back and wipe down everything I touched before my shower — usually just the door handles, bathroom faucet, and the washer.
- Once this is done, I can enter the rest of the house and proceed as normal. Everything that’s “contaminated” stays in that doorway. The next day, I come back down, put my now-clean jacket back on, put my shoes back on at the door, and go to work.
The whole process takes maybe 20 minutes, and the point is simply to keep as much as possible out of your main living space. These steps might work for you, and they might not. You might need to add some steps or change others. It’s all based on your needs and acceptance of risk — and you’re the only one who can decide that. Anything, however, is still better than nothing.
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