There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything most of us have ever seen before. This is a virus that spreads easily and quickly, and many people are carriers. When it comes to the world of sickness and disease, a “carrier” is a person, or animal, that carries a virus but shows no symptoms – asymptomatic.

The reality is we have no idea who is a carrier, who is in the clear, or who is infected and will soon be showing symptoms. The best thing we can do is prepare and practice good hygiene to avoid community spread of COVID-19. It might feel hopeless knowing that anyone could get this virus, but there are steps we can take to avoid infection and to slow the spread.

Let’s take a look at 9 tips one must follow to prevent COVID-19.

1. Disinfect High-Traffic Surfaces

Start in your own home with disinfecting high-traffic surfaces like bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms. Remember to use a trusted disinfectant that kills viruses. If you do not have access to a commercial disinfectant, you can use one of these CDC approved substances: rubbing alcohol, diluted bleach, or even just soap and water. Check out the CDC website for tips on how to treat various surfaces.

2. Wash, And Wash Again!

Wash your Hands

It’s probably been ingrained in your mind since kindergarten, but you should wash your hands after interacting with other people or touching any surface, especially outside your home. This is not to mention the other times we need to wash like after using the bathroom or before eating food. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to cover the entire hand up to the wrist. This is super important because viruses are protected by a layer of fat; soap and water breakdown the protective layer and terminate the virus. Considering we can never be certain if we have been exposed to the coronavirus or not, we must wash, and wash often. Print out a Wash Your Lyrics poster to sing while washing – it ensures you wash for the correct length of time and have fun while doing so!

3. Avoid Touching Others

It may seem like common sense, but we need to nix handshakes and high-fives for the time being. For many this is no issue, although for others, it is a standard, customary greeting. So, get creative by toe-tapping or air-fiving! The possibilities are endless with making your own ‘touch-free’ greetings. We can work together to make our touchy-feely friends feel included in this difficult time.

4. Wear a Mask in Public

Wear Mask in Public

While wearing a mask may only offer some protection against getting a virus, it offers a lot of protection from spreading particles from the wearer. It is important to realize that the CDC suggests wearing a mask in public places and that many cities have adopted the CDC guidelines as law during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only can wearing a mask slow the spread, it just might be mandatory now. Make sure to research the regulations in your city.

5. Plan to Stay Home

One thing you can do to avoid contact with the coronavirus is to simply stay at home. Instead of shopping in person, have groceries delivered, or take advantage of the free delivery many restaurants are offering at this time. Don’t always order fast food though – as tempting as it might be, choosing healthy options will boost your immune system, and make you more resilient to sickness.

6. Don’t Touch Your Face

Even in non-pandemic times, we touch our face way too much and now studies worldwide have confirmed that this is the primary cause of COVID-19 contraction. It is important to avoid touching any part of the face, paying special attention to avoid the nose and mouth. Because we often don’t even realize we’re doing it, we need to be more mindful of our actions during this crisis. Wearing a mask or gloves even at home has been shown to reduce face touching, so that’s something to consider too.

7. Learn Coughing Etiquette

Cough into your Elbow

You might be thinking, “I know how to cough,” but the truth is that most people do not practice good coughing etiquette that can help prevent the spread of germs. It is very common to see people cough into their hand or worse…nothing at all! However, we should use a napkin or tissue that can be immediately thrown away or, if you don’t have one of those, cough into your elbow. When coughing into the elbow, you are preventing germs from getting on your hands which will then be touching other things.

8. Stay 6-Feet Away

The term “social distancing” has been spread just as fast at the virus itself. Despite the popularity of the term, it still is not practiced enough, therefore warrants a special place in this list. It is important to avoid close proximities with other people by maintaining a distance of about 6 feet. It goes without saying, the further away you are from someone, the less risk there is of contracting the virus if they’re infected.

9. Keep a Routine

Healthy Routine

Keeping up the norms of daily life – waking up at the usual time, eating regular meals, not staying up too late – will help to avoid the stresses of a life displaced. It is also a great idea to stay in touch with colleagues and friends by video chatting, so you still have some social interaction. Mental health issues are often overlooked even when times are normal, and more so now that we are not in contact with one another. Remember friends, relatives, and acquaintances and reach out to them—no one is too busy to say hello. If you are experiencing deep sadness, hopelessness, or suicidal thoughts you must call a free mental health helpline. These hard times will pass – don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary circumstance.

Next Steps

Even when practicing all possible preventative measures with perfection, the reality is some may still contract COVID-19. If you experience any of the following symptoms noted by the CDC – fever, persistent cough, chills, headache, loss of taste or smell, muscle aches, feeling of fatigue – call a tele-health number to speak to a healthcare professional for advice. Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and can be dealt with by drinking plenty of fluids and resting. However, if at any time you begin to have difficulty breathing, it is vital to call your local emergency service.

We will get through this so, in the meantime, stay safe and be