One of the benefits of working in a Food and Medical Packaging environment in times of COVID-19 is that you are around caring, careful professionals who have a number of hygiene best practices in their muscle memory. The rest of us normal folks have faced the onerous task of learning completely new behaviours. Don’t touch your face! Easier said than done. Disinfect gym equipment! But will the provided baby wipes do the trick? (they won’t – baby wipes are non-alcoholic, non-chemical for good reason!) What about take-away now that restaurants are closed? A better option despite the fact you queue with a large number of people and Jack-the-Chef may have coughed in your soup or sneezed onto your doggy bag?
Disseminating fact from fiction is equally difficult at times. For where there is news that report cause for concern, there are trolls. My mechanism to cope with the latter is to stick with one source of information and thus to avoid the slippery slope to despair that I would surely slide down if I spent my mornings reading ALL of the different news on the latest developments. For the former I have developed an easy checklists based on best practices by a number of people with better habits than my own: doctors, specialists who work in packaging clean rooms and a virologist friend.
There is a lot of information on what to do and not do while out in public. Somehow there is precious little advice for when the front door of our home slams shut behind us. Here is my list on how I handle myself and all goods that I bring through that front door. During a pandemic. Not under normal circumstances. I’m not mad.
- Clothes: I disinfect the outside of my jacket and leave my shoes in a paint roller tray with 2cm of soaped water, then leave them by the door. If my trousers have touched any surfaces outside they go in the wash. In most cases I leave them by the door for the next run/outing
- Packaged food: I disinfect the outside of all packages including milk cartons etc.
- Fruit and vegetables: I leave them in water with vegetable disinfectant or if I am out I use a reasonable amount of liquid hand wash
- Floors: the vacuum cleaner won’t cut it here so I have started to use a floor steamer in combination with some liquid floor cleaner
- Hands: washed to the elbows for over 20sec – with soap
- Door handles, keys, mobile phone and credit cards: hand disinfectant does the trick
At a time like this human compassion and ingenuity face a true test. The commitment of front line workers is a true inspiration. So is the speed at which companies innovate with the Covid Emergency Ventilator and the Virus-Killing Snood just two examples from the UK. There has long been a pleasant myth about Gin Tonic helping against malaria infections. While science agrees that all England’s favourite drink does is to alleviate the worry of catching an infection, the fact that gin distilleries across the country have started producing hand sanitizer is certainly useful.
Once humanity collectively mobilises against a common enemy, better times are surely ahead. In the meantime do stay safe, wash your hands and sanitize your groceries.