How to stay safe and healthy amidst viruses, bacteria and fungus in our environment
These are unprecedented times which forces all of us to examine our health, safety and well-being. As human beings, we must co-exist with pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungus living in our environment. Many of these pathogens are necessary for our health, most are not harmful, but some are extremely dangerous. With the threat of this year’s Coronavirus or any pathogen, we will always be at risk of serious illnesses regardless of our health status, age and geographic location. As a result, it is important now more than ever to prevent illnesses by practicing personal hygiene behaviors. Personal hygiene practice/behavior refers to what a person does to stay safe and healthy every day.
How do I practice personal hygiene behaviors?
Wash your hands correctly and frequently
Use hand sanitizer, followed by hand washing when available
Shower daily, especially after going out in public/work/school/social outings
Sneeze and cough in bend of your elbow, in a tissue or a designated cloth/fabric
Avoid touching your face, eyes and nose with your hands
Do not touch surfaces, rails, doors and food/items at the store/buildings
Disinfect commonly used personal electronics (phone, computer, tablet)
Disinfect commonly used areas of the house daily
STAY home from work/school/outing when acutely ill (fever/cough)
Specific to the Coronavirus of 2020
Stay 6 feet apart from people not in your household (Social Distancing)
Wear a face mask in public
Wear gloves in public when appropriate
Our personal hygiene behavior or lack of behavior has a direct relationship to the likelihood of us becoming sick. While we cannot control the presence of every pathogen such as viruses, bacteria or fungi living in our environment, we have full control of- if, when and how often we get sick. Which means, every one of us has the responsibility to practice personal hygiene behaviors.
Here are effective and personal hygiene behaviors that can save your life now and in the future. This should be a lifestyle behavior, not just during this difficult time for everyone, no matter what age.
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and running water
Wash hands correctly and frequently after each bathroom use, before eating/drinking, after coughing/sneezing, and before touching face, eyes, nose, mouth or anyone.
Rub your hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds with soap and clean running water. Be sure to cover all surfaces of your hands.
Use a clean paper towel to dry off your hands and use that paper towel to turn off the water, turn off the lights, and open the door as you exit.
Use a clean towel to dry off but wash the towel daily.
Very HOT or COLD water does not help kill pathogens. The mechanism of vigorous hand washing under running water will help remove pathogens.
Use hand sanitizers when hand washing is not immediately available
Hand sanitizers should never replace hand washing. Hand sanitizers are portable and convenient but not as effective compared to proper hand washing.
After hand sanitizer use, when immediately available- wash your hands.
Hand sanitizers can give you a false sense of cleanliness and prevents you from washing your hands. You still MUST wash your hands.
Hand sanitizers can change the normal flora of your skin and can decrease your ability to fight skin infections.
Hand sanitizers should contain at least 70% alcohol to be effective.
Supervise young children when using hand sanitizers.
DO NOT drink/eat/taste hand sanitizers.
Avoid sick people when possible
When you are in public and someone sneezes or coughs, immediately HOLD your breath and walk away at least 6-10 feet while continuing to hold your breath for as long as you can. If possible, remove yourself from the room entirely.
Cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough using the bend of your elbow, a tissue or a towel. WASH YOUR HANDS immediately afterwards.
Isolate self or family member(s) in one room when sick. The sick person should use plastic paper goods and supplies, use one bathroom, cough/sneeze into a designated towel and not in the air which can recirculate in the air. Once the illness is over, that room should be disinfected, and all fabric materials should be washed thoroughly.
Proper use of disposable gloves
Clean gloves should be worn after your hands are washed and completely dried or sanitized.
Clean gloves should be worn before leaving your car, NOT while driving in your car. Once the car is parked, put on a clean pair of gloves and then exist your car.
After visiting the store/place, REMOVE the dirty gloves and throw it away in the trash before getting in your car. Or throw it away in a designated trash bag in your car. If you wear your dirty gloves into your car, you have just contaminated your car carrying pathogens on to your steering wheel and the inside of your car. After throwing away your dirty gloves, use your hand sanitizer immediately. AND wash your hands when available.
DO NOT use your personal electronics while wearing your gloves, especially while in public. Your dirty gloves although temporarily protects you from the environment, you transferred pathogens on to your personal electronics and therefore you have exposed your entire family once you bring it home.
Once you wear a pair of disposable gloves- it is now considered DIRTY and YOU CANNOT reuse it. DO NOT rinse and reuse the disposable dirty gloves.
To properly remove dirty gloves, first remove one glove at a time. If you are right-handed, use your thumb and index finger and pull the top edge of the left glove off completely. Then with your left hand, using your thumb and index finger pull the top edge of the right glove and roll both gloves into the right hand and dispose it.
WASH your hands immediately or use sanitizer if hand washing is not available after throwing away your dirty gloves.
DO NOT wear your dirty gloves while driving.
Disinfect EVERYTHING in your environment
Disinfection starts with proper hand washing!!!!!
Disinfectant solutions can be store bought or home-made. Google how to make home-made disinfectant solution using water, bleach, vinegar or even lemon juice. If you make home-made disinfectant, clearly label the container with its content also with the date in which it was made. Keep away from children.
Daily showers at the end of the day from working outside the home. The best time to shower is immediately after coming home.
If an immediate shower is not possible, change into clean clothing. Do not wear the same jacket/vest/sweater worn from work/school in the house. Instead, use a designated jacket/vest/sweater for home use only.
Dinning/kitchen/bathroom countertops should be disinfected after each use.
Doorknobs/handles and light switches should be disinfected twice a day- morning and evening. Disinfect more frequently when someone is sick in the home.
Disinfect all personal electronics as often as possible especially if everyone in the home is using it.
Disinfect the car’s steering wheel, door handles, transmission shift gear and front console frequently.
Disinfect any highly used areas of the house/workplace.
DO NOT drink/eat/taste any type of disinfectant solutions!!!
Proper use of face masks
Face masks should cover the entire top of the nose to below the chin line.
Avoid excessive removal of face masks.
Disposable face masks must be thrown away daily. DO NOT sanitize, disinfect or wash disposable face masks.
Washable face masks (cloth/fabric) must be thoroughly washed and dried daily. DO NOT sanitize washable face masks.
To make N95 masks or other commercial grade masks last longer, put a washable or disposable face masks over it.
It is not necessary to wear a face mask while driving. Wear it if you are going through a drive-through where there is human interaction.
When face mask is not in use, put it in a zip lock bag labeled with your name. This helps to prevent cross contamination within the environment.
Health Tips to help boost and maintain your health and immune system thus avoiding illnesses
caused by viruses, bacteria and fungus in the environment. A healthy and strong
immune system will help prevent illnesses and allow for a faster recovery when
you do become ill.
Children under the age of 18, should sleep 8 to 10 hours each night.
Adults should sleep 6 to 8 hours each night.
Day naps should be before 3pm and less than 45 mins.
Keep a routine to stabilize your circadian rhythm. Go to bed and wake up the same time each day.
Adequate Nutrition and Hydration
Drink at least 8 glasses of 8 oz of WATER daily, all before 6pm (to avoid going to the bathroom at night).
Limit sugar-based drinks (sodas, sport drinks, flavored drinks) to one per day before 6pm.
Limit caffeinated drinks to 2 servings a day, all before 3pm to avoid a sleepless night.
Limit alcohol drinks to 1 serving per day.
Eat at least 5-7 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day.
Eat 3-4 small balanced meals with lean protein (chicken, seafood, tofu, lean red meat) and complex carbs (legumes, vegetables, nuts/grains). Last meal should be before 6pm.
Limit deep fried foods, high carbohydrate foods (rice/noodle), salty or sugary foods and creamy/rich foods.
Limit junk food to 3 times a week (chips, candy, cookies, ice cream, rice based sweet threats).
Frequent Physical Activity
Physical activity includes but not limited to walking, running, weight training, biking, Yoga, Tai Chi and any sports.
Daily physical activity for at least 45mins is strongly recommended.
To get the most health benefit, engage in any physical activity which raises your heart rate for the duration of the event.
Engaging the entire family helps to increase the bond among everyone
General Health Tips
Make a daily routine and follow it as best as you can, especially while in quarantine.
Make time for work, rest, physical activity and family time
Stay calm and in control of your OWN self and do not let other people’s anxiety and fear guide your decisions.
Meditate, pray, sing, laugh and enjoy the simple things in life.
Stay positive and productive and focus on moving forward and NOT dwell on the past or changing the past.
Continue to take medications as prescribed by your healthcare professional.
Stop smoking cigars and cigarettes.
Stop drinking alcohol
Lose weight. Losing as little as 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure, blood sugar and joint pains.
Enjoy at least 30 minutes of sunshine everyday.
These are general guidelines to help you and your family stay safe and healthy every day. While we cannot escape the presence of pathogens (virus, bacteria, fungi) living with us in our environment, we can however, control our actions so we are less likely to be ill. By practicing personal hygiene behaviors, you can remain healthy and alive!!!