Beyond the use of conventional cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, the most effective ways to reduce spread of infectious disease are through our personal behaviors. According to the CDC, washing our hands with soap and running water is the single most important thing one can do to limit spread of infectious disease.
Every surface we touch, whether a table, the ground, or another person’s skin, has microbes on them. They are everywhere, and many are harmless, and others are helpful. Only 1% of the microbes that we are exposed to cause disease, and this minority is often given 99% of the airtime by commercial corporations in an effort to influence our perception towards bacteria.
When you wash your hands often, the number of germs you touch when you come in contact with these germs are greatly reduced. You also lower the likelihood of accidentally transferring those germs to your eyes, nose or mouth.
Teaching these habits to children while they are young is one of the best ways to make the behavior habitual, and sets the stage for lifelong healthy practices. Enumerated below are key behavioral strategies we can teach children, and adults, that don’t require the use of cleaners, sanitizers, or disinfectants.
- Social distancing
- Recuperate at home. If you are already aware that you are sick, the most responsible thing to do is to stay at home and rest. Apart from giving your body the time and rest it needs to recuperate and fight off the internal infection, you also prevent an outbreak of that same infection in your school, or place of work, by staying at home. For more serious diseases, it’s wiser refer to your doctor’s instructions for sheltering in place, and the length of time you should take before returning.
- Encourage proactive distancing (of at least 3-6 feet)when coughing or sneezing, especially in an enclosed, and poorly ventilated area.
- Etiquette for Coughing and Sneezing
- Cover nose and mouth when sneezing, and wash hands immediately with soap and running water.
- Sneeze into elbows or disposable tissue
- Avoid touching eyes nose and mouth
- Immunization from known prevalent diseases is something to be seriously considered especially for children attending school due to the high likelihood of outbreaks of infectious diseases due to their collective low immunity.
- Ensuring flow of fresh air circulation within a building and subsequent removal of germ-containing air. This may be done manually, simply by opening doors and windows, or mechanically, through the use of a central heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system that must be maintained regularly to ensure air filters are clean and free from blockage.
- Properly labeled and covered waste bins to ensure proper disposal of waste that may have been contaminated with infectious waste.
- No-touch facilities like swinging doors, automated soap dispensers, self-flushing toilets, automated faucets
Air filtering and cleaning equipment
- This may be achieved using an air filtering machine with a high-efficacy particulate air (HEPA) rating to filter indoor air of tine particulate matter.
- The single most important and effective thing you can do to reduce the spread of infectious disease. In instances where one doesn't have access to soap and running water, it is recommended to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol. However, be reminded that sanitizers cannot remove dirt. Germs can still hide under the dirt left on your hands. Additionally, use of hand sanitizers with children pose a risk as they can lick the sanitizer residue off their hands and ingest the potentially toxic ingredients in the product.
Mindful practices start young, and at home. With positive encouragement that health and safety is a community effort, together we can ensure that we, our family, and our community at work stays happy and thriving.