As lockdown eases, many more of us will be venturing outdoors again: starting to shop, use public transport and even return to the workplace for the millions of us who have either been furloughed or working from home in recent months.
But it will be natural that many of us might also feel nervous upon emerging from our hibernation. We all know that the virus is still out there and remains a real threat, especially for anyone elderly or with underlying health conditions. Here are some tips designed to help you stay safe even while engaging again with the outside world.
Wear a face mask
The type of face mask is your first decision – and where you get it from. Different types of mask offer different levels of protection. The best are surgical grade respirators or surgical grade masks – but these are expensive, difficult to get hold of and uncomfortable. Instead, there has been a surge in retailers selling masks and there are many instructions out there on how to make your own. However, once you have a mask you also need to look after it – and keep it clean.
Clean your mask
A reusable face mask should be cleaned every time you wear it to make sure it stays hygienic and germ free and remains uncontaminated. If you don’t wash it, you risk germs and bacteria harbouring on the face mask, which could cause you to become ill or irritate your skin. The best way to wash it is in the washing machine on a hot wash with detergent. You can also wash it by hand – but make sure the water is very hot and give it a good scrub. It is also worth investing in more than one mask to ensure you are covered when one is drying – also store it correctly, ideally in a sealed, clean, plastic bag.
You will find most shops and stores will have sanitiser available as you enter and leave – use it each time. You can also take your own. Follow their guidelines and wash or clean your hands as often as you can – and feel comfortable. Also use any cleaning materials provided to wipe down surfaces you touch such as the handle of a shopping trolley.
You can venture out, but it is up to you where you go and how much contact you have with others. Just because retailers have reopened does not mean you need to go shopping just yet – bearing in mind online shopping is booming and delivery is more efficient than ever. So only go where you feel comfortable and avoid crowds. If too many people are around – move away, go somewhere else, or go home.
Avoid shared surfaces
The coronavirus spreads because people pick up virus-containing droplets from different surfaces. That means an important way to minimize that risk is by avoiding touching shared surfaces as much as possible.
If outdoors, avoid surfaces touched by different people, like picnic tables, benches, swings, slides — or, at the very least, wipe them down before using them. This is very true on public transport – think about what you touch, wipe it down if possible and wash your hands afterwards. Avoid touching your face.
When shopping, consider touch points such as shopping trolleys or baskets, checkouts, door handles etc.