Are you trying to protect yourself or someone you love who may be vulnerable to COVID-19? Make some new habits!
I'm a professional germophobe! Err, I mean, professional classical singer. We've been doing this stuff for years, since getting a cold is detrimental in our profession. I asked a few of my singer colleagues to help me out with this list. Help us make it even better!
Once I have the complete list, I can email it out to everyone- so they can post it in public places!
These practices are NOT in any way a guaranteed way to keep you from spreading viruses. These are just creative ways to think about how to be more careful than ever before, to make a better world. Stay Home, Save Lives. Only leave your home if absolutely necessary.
Follow all CDC guidelines.
My views are my own.
Do you know someone that needs to understand why we are social distancing?
Feel free to show them the letter I wrote to my family and friends.
Also see: 7 Immunity Boosting Ideas for COVID-19, and a Warning about Elderberry
WASH YOUR HANDS thoroughly for at least 20 seconds! Learn how to properly wash your hands
(many people are actually doing this uselessly when they do it, and not often enough!)
and NEVER TOUCH YOUR FACE! At least, try not to. When you do have to touch your face, wash your hands first.
The nasty little virus droplets enter in through your nose, mouth, and eyes. Please be a responsible global citizen. All ideas here are meant to be supplemental to the guidelines as outlined by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at www.cdc.gov.
HOW LONG CAN THE VIRUS LAST ON SURFACES?
"New research from the National Institutes of Health, Princeton University, and the University of California, Los Angeles, broke down how long the COVID-19 virus can survive on different surfaces. And while these results could be affected by temperature, humidity, UV light, and wind, it's a reminder of how easily the virus can spread. Luckily, the virus isn't airborne. But it can linger in droplets on particles in the air. The study found that viruses could last up to three hours in droplets in the air. Maintaining a distance of six feet from other people can help avoid particles spread through a cough or a sneeze.
On copper surfaces, like a drawer handle, the virus can last up to four hours.
While researchers found that the virus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, the CDC believes packages or mail are unlikely to transmit the virus.
COVID-19 appears to last the longest on plastic and stainless steel, two to three days. That's longer than the flu can live on surfaces, according to the CDC. Nonporous surfaces seem to allow the virus to survive longer." (Like your phone!)
Write down every scenario. (I would really encourage you to physically write it down, because that often helps us to really think it through, and remember it)
Brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, Eating, rubbing eyes, rubbing/picking your nose (ick!), putting on any makeup, wiping sweat off your brow, biting your nails due to anxiety because -life (don't bite your nails!!!) ...when you're thinking, or 'staring off into the distance', or reading...when you have an itch or irritant.
Exercise #2: Likewise, "What do I touch a lot?" Make a list. Things like computer keyboards, PHONES, desk surfaces, handles, railings, for us musicians- the piano keys and music stand etc… these are the things that need regular cleanings.
Try “practicing” this by challenging yourself to move around your home for 5-10 mins at a time without touching anything with your hands. Use this skill when you have to go to an appointment or anything outside of your home. Walk into the rooms/places, without touching anything.
Exercise #3: You miiiiight have a bit more time right now to watch movies, TV, youtube or whatever else. ...With all that free time and binge-watching, do it with a purpose!
So while you are watching the next show - Watch it with a pen and paper beside you - And jot down every time that you see a person on the screen touch their face.
- Plan your route, if you're going out, and make lists for what you need. Minimize your footprints (and HAND prints!) outside your home as much as possible
- Best advice: Don’t go around afraid of contracting the virus, just pretend like you already have it and you are trying to protect the vulnerable from getting it. If you DO have the virus, for heaven sake's don’t go anywhere unless it’s a medical reason.
- Have separate shoes for inside your home, and leave the “outside” shoes outside your door, if you have an entryway, alternatively, you can clean the soles of your shoes with some disinfectant. Some cultures use separate shoes for JUST their bathrooms, too. Makes sense.
- Don't shake hands.For now, stay at least 6 ft away from everyone.
- Don’t eat finger foods with your fingers. This is sandwiches, burgers, fries, chips, snacks, and the like …OR make sure that your hands are completely clean before doing so! Then, AFTER you eat, WASH THEM AGAIN! (you touched your mouth and you don't want to spread to others)
- Tissues (or a hankie/rag) to avoid skin to skin contact and if you feel a sneeze coming on. That’s the best practice. Secondarily – sneezing into your elbow. Make sure your elbow actually BLOCKS the sneeze.
- Regularly wash towels (every day!) from your bathroom and kitchen areas… have a separate towel for clean hands after washing hands, than the ones you shower with.
- Here's a detailed video on how to safely bring groceries or takeout items home.
- Wear a sweater, long sleeved shirt, or jacket, or gloves (not the medical grade kind! I mean like warm gloves) so that you can avoid pulling open doors or flipping light switches, or touching railings with your bare hand. Then if you had to use them with gloves - you should stick your gloves in their bag - and wash them... Washing your hands after handling them.
- Sanitize your phone multiple times per day. OR – while out of your home, put your phone in a wet bag (they make these designed for underwater use -designed for your phone), every time you go out, use and operate your phone from the wet bag, the idea is that the bag is easier to disinfect, and just remove your phone from the bag once you're home. Wet bags often come with a cord or something crossbody so you can wear it outside your clothes or pockets.
- Carry around your own pen for signing things like receipts, and keep a pencil inside a ziplock bag in your purse or pocket…. Use the pencil tip to touch any touch screens, ATMs, elevator buttons, and signing screens at checkouts, then after each use -sanitize the tip of your pencil (or don’t if you don’t have sanitizer) but return it to your ziplock bag…then, the zip lock bag needs to be swapped out! In a pinch, without a pencil- I use my pinkie to sign a screen (or to touch anything that can’t be touched by my elbow) and tuck my pinkie into my palm (in an uncomfortable way to remind me I can't un-clench it and touch anything else, until I have washed my hand.
- Sanitizer isn’t always the most optimal way to clean your hands – fyi, washing your hands for 20 seconds is always better than sanitizer. If you don’t have hand sanitizer there are plenty of DIY hand sanitizer tips out there.
- While we're talking about sanitizer, think about the top part of the sanitizer bottle that gets squeezed...yeah, it probably needs to be wiped too.
- Make a handwashing station in your vehicle - Put a large container of tap water (You could go all out, and buy big 5 gallon kind) ...and a good ol' bar of soap, it's not that difficult to put in the car, easy to give your hands a good rinsing on the go! (For after those gas pumps...!)
- Upon entering your home, immediately take off at least the outer layer of clothes or any particularly “affected” items, and bag them in a garbage sack to wash (if you’re being environmentally friendly, a large laundry sized wet bag would work even better!) and it all goes in the wash. Wash your hands after putting the clothes into the wash.
- To be over the top - Take a shower when you get home, and a nose rinse! I have a blog and video about that for toddlers and kiddos. Nasal rinsing is thought to provide some benefits to shortening the length of a cold. It also feels better!
- Obviously frequently clean all frequently touched items in your home such as: Door handles (on appliances too) Counters, sinks, the flusher on your toilet
- No toilet paper? Purchase a cheap attachable bidet for your toilet. You’d be surprised how easy this is, and it’s so much more hygienic. There are super fancy ones too, if you’d like to go all out. Much of the world has been doing this for ages. And a few of us here in the US are weirdos that love it. There are peri bottles that Squirt upwards and work great for when you're on the go - and they might need to be a more common place item than you would think for your purse, so that when someone has stolen all the toilet paper from the public restroom you're in - you're not going to have to drip dry.
- Definitely don’t touch a gas pump ever with bare hands if you can help it. AND furthermore- don't slather your hands with sanitizer after touching the pump, that just wipes that junk all around. Gross. Wash your hands. Or have an old pair of snow gloves (again, not wasting medical gloves here!) that you keep in your side door of your car, in a bag, just for gas pumps.
- If you can touch something with your elbow (or even knees), instead of your hand – DO it … it’s hard to get your elbow up to your face. …good example is pushing a door open that doesn’t have a handle…you can push it open with the side of your arm instead of your hand. I've done this since before I can remember.
- Thoroughly wash your fruits and veggies (soaking them in a vinegar bath is great or spraying them with veggie cleaner)
- Community laundry? Eek. Maybe figure out an alternative if you’re able to… DIY washer in your tub? Google it. It may be fine - the virus is killed by the detergent, BUT - your clean clothes coming out of the dryer may sweep across a virus-y surface...or someone might touch your stuff.
- FLOORS: This is why your shoe situation is SO important. When people sneeze/cough – those nasty virus droplets fall to the floor …and you walk through it. Don’t let kids play, crawl, or roll around on public floors. In your own home, clean your floors regularly, use natural/safe cleaners if you have little ones and pets.
- Be mindful of what TOUCHES the floor in a public place if it's a dirty one and COMES UP to counter and table top level- Water bottles, toys, backpacks, books, toys, etc
- Pets – Wash your hands before and after playing/touching/snuggling your pet…they can have all kinds of wonderful things on their fur/face/feet. Also, the verdict seems to still be out on whether this virus can be spread back to pets, or domestic animals, livestock, etc. Since the origin of the virus was probably from an animal. Regardless, your pet is a “surface” just like your hands or anything else.
- If you have littles that are crawling around…maybe re-think this…create a space/room or otherwise that is pet-free (think of pet’s paws and where they have been!) And/or damp-mop ceramic or hard wood floors with hot water and vinegar or other natural cleaners so that babies aren’t crawling in harsh chemicals (but all that was true before COVID-19!)
- The virus can last 2-3 DAYS on metal and plastic surfaces…. Metal/plastic playgrounds may not be a good idea for the littles. In fact – probably forego those altogether…find a field or a hill or something… climb trees? :)
- Packages or Mail from the outside – one strategy: put them in the same spot every time you bring in a package. Try to minimize the surface area of where you contact the package with your hands or fingers. Then, after opening the package, WASH YOUR HANDS! Another strategy, is to leave packages/mail alone in a dedicated/closed off space for the night, and open them after the virus can has had the appropriate amount of time to "die" off. See how long the virus lasts on surfaces here.
- If you have cuts or scratches on your hands -cover them with bandaids before leaving home.
- A few drops of lavender in your hand lotion will help to heal chapping or scratches on your hands to heal faster… calendula or coconut oil could help too.
- Disinfect your vehicle’s steering wheel and doors/handles and when you come home, your house's door handles
- If using public transportation…don’t touch ANYTHING. Agh.
- KIDS - Wiping your kids faces...wash your hands - wash THEIR hands...better yet just spray them off before coming back into your home with the hose and soap (kidding, not kidding).
- What else? #ThinkOutsideYourBox via social media (Instagram or Facebook) to complete this list, or comment in the add field below.
Also - this is a nice article detailing why everything I outlined above is not just "OCD behavior", but SUPER IMPORTANT AND VITAL behavior right now!
Do you know someone that needs to understand social distancing? Feel free to show them the letter I wrote to my family and friends. No politics, just good sources and positivity!
Or Go To: 7 Immunity Boosting Ideas for COVID-19, and a Warning about Elderberry
- Rachel Sparrow
Rachel Sparrow is a professional singer, musician,(violin, piano, ukulele) actor, teacher, arranger, writer, and most importantly: a wife and a mommy of two littles. She loves to help parents make everyday life musical with their kids as well as share backstage stories, and performance experiences here. She earned her Master's degree in Voice Performance from Northwestern University, and also holds two Bachelor's degrees in Voice, and Music Education (certified to teach k-12 vocal & instrumental music) from Idaho State University. She is also a certified Music Together Director (music class for birth-5 yrs). See about Rachel.
"Think Outside Your Box" means 3 things:
1. Be Selfless - think beyond your own "box". (and for singers, there's more to life than your voice box!) You're capable of helping and healing others.
2. Feel Empowered to bust out of the proverbial
"box" made of societally-induced-parameters.
3. Be Bold. Innovate. Stretch yourself. You can do anything if you set your mind to it.