As we are encouraged by health authorities to stay clear of crowded places and avoid unnecessary travel now that the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 continues to climb in many parts of the world, it goes without saying that we ought to keep our homes safe from disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Fundamental to this, says Dr. Edsel Maurice T. Salvana, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health in University of the Philippines Manila, is the importance of observing basic hygiene and sanitary practices in our own homes.
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1 No need to use strong chemicals.
Dr. Salvana insists that there is no need to go overboard, to the point of treating our homes like a hospital. “Hospitals are full of pathogens and require much more stringent cleaning. Our homes should be clean and sanitary, but there is no need to use harsh chemicals or disinfectants which may irritate your skin and lungs and may be poisonous especially to children. Regular cleaning with non-toxic cleaners is OK,” he points out.
2. Clean and disinfect often used areas and objects.
A guideline released by the Center for Diseases and Control Prevention (CDC) advised the public to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables) using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
3. When you cough to a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash.
Dr. Saldana, on the other hand, reminds everyone to avoid touching the mouth, nose, face or eyes and to observe proper coughing etiquette—cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and throw the tissue in the trash. Don’t just leave used tissues around the house. “Remember to wash your hands after,” he reiterates.
4. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
CDC emphasizes washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
5. Kitchen sink sponges need to be dried and replaced often.
Dr. Saldana also warns about our neglect in the use of sponges for cleaning dishes, which can be a breeding ground of germs. “Those need to be dried, and avoid soaking them for long periods of time. Those should be replaced often,” he notes.
6. If invited guests to your house happened to be sick, tell them it’s okay if they can’t make it to your party.
When hosting people at your house, you have the right and responsibility to ask your guests to not come if they are sick, reads an article published by Harvard Medical School. Keep hand sanitizer by the door of your house and ask guests to use it when they arrive.
7. Or request that he wear a surgical mask.
If the visit of a sick guest can’t be avoided, request him to use a surgical mask (not cloth, not N95) and to also wash his hands, says Dr. Saldana. Make sure everyone washes their hands before meals and snacks, after being in public places, and after being around anyone who is or might be sick.
“If anyone in your family gets a fever and cough, they should stay home. Chances are it’s not coronavirus, but whatever it is, it’s likely contagious. Not only is staying home and resting the best way to get better, but also you don’t want to panic others by having your child cough in their child’s face,” the Harvard Medical School article points out.
Dr. Saldana clarifies that home quarantine is only for persons under monitoring. “If someone is sick with the flu, just have them rest, stay at home, and wear a surgical mask when around other people. Wash hands frequently. Get the flu vaccine,” he advises.