Keep your house virus-free as you work from home

OKEECHOBEE — While the list of businesses considered essential in Florida is substantial, there are still some now working from home following Gov. Ron DeSantis’s issuing a stay-at-home executive order last
week.

Even though most of us are isolating during this crisis, every trip to the grocery store, gas station or pharmacy can bring additional exposure to germs back into the home office. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces and recommends disinfection of these areas to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Be aware of the commonly touched areas of the new home workspace, such as a desk, keyboard, mouse, phone and personal files that have constant exposure to our hands; these should also be sanitized regularly.

The CDC recommends that you both clean and disinfect these hot spots in your house. Cleaning and disinfecting are two separate steps. With cleaning, you’re removing contaminants from a surface, while disinfecting is about killing pathogens.

High-touch surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, toilets, faucets and sinks can be cleaned using just soap and water.

After cleaning, use a surface-appropriate disinfectant. Disinfecting wipes and sprays made by Purell, Clorox and Lysol will all get the job done, as well as isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.

Use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol on smartphones and other electronics, and dry the surface thoroughly.

The CDC also has offered a recipe for a homemade cleaning solution on its website. To make the disinfectant spray, get four teaspoons household bleach and one quart of water. Pour both into a 1-quart spray bottle, and shake vigorously.

Spray on surface to disinfect, let sit for 10 minutes, wipe away with wet cloth.

Bleach is a powerful disinfectant. In fact, it’s almost overkill. With bleach it is easy to damage or discolor sensitive surfaces. So really only use it as a last resort if you can’t find any other kind of disinfectant. When using bleach, remember to wear gloves and open your windows for ventilation.

Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.

With all this cleaning, it’s important not to forget another basic pillar of modern life — hand washing. You would think this would have been an important thing to consider even before COVID-19. But sometimes it takes a pandemic to really bring into focus the important things in life.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.

• Always wash immediately after removing gloves and after contact with a person who is sick.

• Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available and hands are not visibly dirty, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.

• Additional key times to clean hands include: After blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing, after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, after contact with animals or pets, before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

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