Did everyone notice the uptick in respiratory illnesses (including COVID) that started about a week and a half after Thanksgiving? Many of us might have heard about the flu or a cold or even COVID making its way through a classroom, an office, or an apartment complex. This uptick is predictable, as holidays bring people, and their infections, together. How can we minimize the spread of infection in our homes this upcoming holiday season and go into the new year without sniffles, sneezes, and sore throats? In today's post, we will help you host your friends and family in a hygienic home for the holidays.
Tip #1: Be upfront with guests about bringing illness into your home in the first place. To avoid awkwardness and discomfort along with infection transmission, tell your guests ahead of time that you are taking extra steps to keep your party as safe as possible. If you are trying to protect an immunocompromised individual, say so! You don't have to mention the name, but just telling people you are trying to keep a loved one safe can help you get over the awkward hurdle.
Tip #2: Do what hospitals do! Make hand hygiene easy. Leave holiday-themed hand sanitizers in every room in easy-to-reach places: End tables, sideboards, pot luck tables, bathrooms, coffee tables, game rooms, and in every guest room. You could hang holiday-themed hand-washing reminders in bathrooms (there are many funny ideas online), while also making sure bathrooms are stocked with single-use hand towels - don't have guests all use the same towel. A roll of paper towels will go a long way!
Tip #3: Offer masks to your guests and set the tone for mask-acceptance. It's a wonderful gesture for a guest to want to wear a mask and protect your loved ones from their cold! Make sure your guests feel welcome to wear a mask, and advocate for them if someone makes a negative comment. Make sure everyone knows that in your home, masks are an expression of love.
Tip #4: Keep the air fresh and moving! Even on cold days, it's important to have good ventilation in rooms where there will be many people. It may not be possible to have windows open or some of the party take place outdoors. In those cases, borrow or invest in HEPA air purifiers to place in rooms where many guest will remain for a long time. These filters can remove infectious particles from the air.
Tip #5: Follow the instruction on your cleaning supplies! When cleaning before, during, and after your gathering, make sure to follow the directions on your soaps and sprays in order to get the results you want. If you are wiping down areas before guests arrive, for example. you may have to use multiple wipes to get the surface wet enough, and then allow the surface to air dry. The same with many disinfecting sprays: To get the biocidal effects on the label, you might have to get the surface thoroughly wet (not just spray here and there) and allow to sit for several minutes before wiping.
Tip #6: Avoid sharing! Everyone probably knows that sharing cups and cutlery is not a good way to prevent germ transmission. But this also applies to surfaces you may not consider: Straws, party whistles (those noisemaker thingies you blow into), candy canes, mugs, dessert forks ("let me have just a bite!"), bathroom hand towels, snacks in communal bowls, and napkins. In these cases, sharing is not caring! There are some things you can do to discourage sharing (putting names on cups and providing single-size servings of snacks) but for many of these, it will take close monitoring and gentle reminders.
Tips #7:Clean shared surfaces regularly. There are some items that just have to be shared, such as game controllers, remotes, serving spoons, and kitchen equipment. To keep these surfaces cleaner, periodically wipe them down with a biocidal wipe or spray. Don't forget kitchen handles, microwave buttons, fridge handles (both sides!), oven knobs and appliances.
Phew! That's a lot of work! And it's only for a short period of time. Imagine the work involved in keeping a hospital clean every day of the year! So many people may go through life never knowing the amount of effort taken to keep their healthcare facilities safe. It is out of respect to those working to keep us safe - and for those who come under their care - that EOS wants to see EOSCU in every hospital in our nation. Thanks to the cuprous oxide throughout EOSCU, this material kills germs continuously and safely.
Now, your home isn't (usually) high traffic/high touch enough to need EOSCU installed for everyday life - whereas a DC metro station or a Mets stadium seat does - but it is still important to take these extra steps at times when you do open your doors and host a get-together. Thankfully, most of us are healthy enough to stave off many infections or endure them with only minor discomfort. But if those same germs find their way to a vulnerable individual - and every patient in a hospital falls into this category - then even the common cold could have grave results.
From the bottom of our hearts, we hope that all your holiday parties - and all your hospitals - are hygienic!