Former Australian Health Protection Principal Committee member and experienced disaster responder Dr. Bill Griggs recently shared a helpful list of dos and don’ts that will prevent bringing in COVID-10 into your home after venturing out. While retired, Griggs has been recently vocal in his country’s handling of the pandemic. He says that he created the checklist for his non-medical friends who have been requesting such a guide.
Briggs has led medical retrieval efforts and disaster response efforts in Iraq and Bali, and was a trauma services director for The Royal Adelaide Hospital. He was also a South Australian of the Year, an annual honor given to exemplary individuals in their respective fields.
Created so that you #DontBringCOVIDHome, Dr. Briggs’ thorough, 25-point checklist is divided into three-parts.
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Checklist A: Leaving home
The principle here is to prepare so that you can safely and easily decontaminate when you return home.
1. Remove all below-elbow hand and arm wear, watches, jewelry, etc. They all stay home. You want to be able to wash thoroughly when you get home and you don’t want to deal with crevices in these items. Wear short sleeves so you can easily wash your hands and forearms when you get home.
2. Leave your wallet or handbag home. Rationalize your keys. Just the ones you need this time. If you need to take things such as personal hygiene items, medicine, etc, put these in a disposable brown paper bag.
3. Your phone goes into a ziplock bag. You will discard or wash the bag upon returning home. Avoid using your phone as much as possible while out.
4. No social media. You can manage without it for a while.
5. Credit card and photo ID go into ziplock bags, too.
6. Wear shoes that live outside your door, or just inside your door if you must. Put them on as you leave. Choose enclosed shoes, not open toed, to keep your feet virus-free.
7. If you are going to work, take your own food in a disposable bag. Take a full water bottle, too, in case you get thirsty.
8. Make sure there is an easily cleanable reasonable-sized plastic box at your door. You will need this when you get home.
9. All your bagged personal items go into a second plastic box which lives in the one spot in the car.
10. Plan your trip to minimize time away from the safety of your home.
Checklist B: While out
Here are a few general principles:
1. Don’t touch your face.
2. Don’t touch anything with your hands that you don’t absolutely need to.
3. Assume items others (or even you) may have touched recently are contaminated. Some of these include:
• Traffic light call buttons
• Lift call and floor buttons
• Car door handles
• Steering wheels and gear shifts
• Flat door surfaces at chest height
• Any item that can be lifted and moved
4. Assume your hands will get contaminated and decontaminate them regularly. Do this while out with hand washing or if you can not hand wash then use some sort of sanitizer. Hand washing is the most effective.
5. Push doors with feet preferably, or shoulder or elbow if not.
6. When your face itches (and it will) rub it with your upper arm. Practize this at home so you get used to it.
7. Avoid eating in any communal space. It is almost impossible not to touch your face when you eat. No drinks unless you brought them with you. Unless you are at work, try not to eat or drink while out at all.
8. At store check-outs, do not use cash. Use contactless payment. If you need to use your PIN, try to use a knuckle or maybe a ring finger. Index fingers and thumbs are more likely to be used to touch your face.
Checklist C: Arriving home
1. Get your items out of your car box or bag.
2. No hugs or close greetings yet. Remove shoes and leave at door.
3. Empty the contents of your paper bags and ziplock bags into the home box. Throw the bags away.
4. Wash your hands thoroughly.
5. Now clean the items in the home box one at a time—phone, cards etc. Use liberal soap and water or sanitizer gel if you have lots of this. But soap with water is very effective. Have a clean spot to place each one after cleaning. Finally clean the plastic box.
6. Now clean the car. Wipe door handle, steering wheel, gear shift, seat belt and any surfaces you may have touched. Clean the car box, too.
7. Go back inside. Wash your hands again. You should be all good now.
Note: You can clean the ziplock bags thoroughly to reuse them if you want but the paper bags go in the bin as these can not be effectively cleaned.
Illustrations by Chris Clemente