Avoiding other people during this outbreak of coronavirus is not as easy as it sounds. Maybe you have a job or other requirements that force you outside of your home for a period of time. If you do have to go out in public, how do you protect your family members from getting coronavirus?
How to keep your family safe from coronavirus
There are a few things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19 to your family in case you’re exposed to it:
- Clean and disinfect your home often
- Disinfect everything you touch, such as doorknobs, light switches, keys, phone, keyboards, remotes, chair backs, refrigerator door handle, etc.
- Leave surfaces wet with a disinfectant for 3-5 minutes.
- Wash clothes, towels and linens regularly on the warmest setting
- Regularly wash stuffed animals and other toys that can harbor germs.
- Don’t shake dirty laundry to avoid dispersing the virus in the air.Line your hamper with a disposable liner or disinfect regularly.
- Avoid touching your face or the faces of other family members.
- Don’t share food and drinks with other family members.
- Avoid travel if possible.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Practice social-distancing techniques.
- If you feel ill, make sure to self-quarantine or isolate yourself from other family members.
Prevent bringing COVID-19 into your home
If you or a member of your family are still commuting to work, there are additional steps you can take to prevent exposing your family or others to COVID-19.
“You don’t have to banish each person to their own corner. In a household where people are in close contact, you can reduce the risk of exposure by taking a look at how your family interacts. What are the high-touch surfaces? Those are the priorities to keep clean,” explains Dr. Sanders, medical director of Pedi Express urgent care at University Health.
How you can reduce take-home exposure:
- Designate a person to run errands. It could be the same person who is still commuting in order to minimize exposure.
- In San Antonio, it's now mandatory for anyone age 10 or older to wear a cloth face covering or mask when out in public - when it's difficult to remain six feet apart.
- Practice social distancing – that’s two arm-lengths away from anyone else.
- Wipe handles on carts or baskets when getting groceries.
- Wear disposable gloves and remember not to touch your face. Make sure you know how to take your gloves off properly so that you don’t contaminate yourself in the process.
- Dedicate a room or low-traffic area to be your disinfection area. This could be your garage or laundry room – as long as it’s close to your entrance.
- Take off your shoes before entering your home and disinfect with Lysol.
- Change out of your clothes and wash up as soon as you get home. Consider keeping another set of clothes in the ‘clean’ section of your disinfection area.
- Wipe down your groceries. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows you how.
- Wash your produce well before taking them to the kitchen.
- Take a shower as soon as you get home. Avoid sitting on or touching household furniture or items before taking a shower.
- Wash your work clothes separately from your other laundry.
- Clean the floorboards, steering wheel and dashboard of your car when you get home.
- Make sure to clean all jewelry and accessories or better yet, leave them at home. If you need to have a watch at work, consider getting a watch specifically for your job and then leaving it there or in the glove compartment of your car when you head home.
- Wash your hands after picking up your mail or picking up deliveries.
- Pay and tip online when placing orders.
- Keep six feet away from someone who comes to your door.
How to care for a family member with coronavirus
If you suspect that you or another member of your household has coronavirus, you can take steps to help protect the rest of your family.
Dr. Sanders reminds parents that, “Kids pick up on parental anxiety. By explaining that this is how we help stay healthy, parents can give their family more of a sense of control over the situation – and encourage them to play a role by, for instance, washing their hands well.”
Consistently follow these steps to help prevent further infection within your family:
- Avoid contact with your pets; they can spread germs.
- Wear a facemask.
- Don’t share personal household items, food or drink with other family members.
- Clean all areas of the house often, especially those ‘high-touch’ areas - including keyboards, toilets, light switches, doorknobs, etc.
- Separate family members with symptoms from the rest of the family by keeping them in a specific room with its own bathroom if possible.
- Wash their clothes separately from the rest of the laundry and wear disposable gloves while handling the laundry. Wash your hands immediately after removing your gloves.
- Don’t allow others to visit your home.
Stay informed about coronavirus
Some of the best ways to protect your family is by practicing good hygiene, washing your hands often and staying informed. Try to closely monitor the state of the pandemic through reliable local and national resources. If you want to learn more about how to protect you or your family from contracting coronavirus, here are some additional resources you can turn to for answers: