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Tips from Public Health Expert on healthy practices at home to avoid COVID-19

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Posted at 12:32 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 13:32:57-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — To avoid possible exposure to the coronavirus, new social distancing guidelines mean more families are spending more time at home.

Carol Winner is an experienced public health professional who has worked alongside the CDC and DHHS on initiatives like the Affordable Care Act. She is also a social distance expert and founder of Give Space, a movement intended to protect the boundaries of those with compromised immune systems and touch sensitivities.

Winner explained that there are things adults and children can do at home to continue reducing their risk of contracting the coronavirus.

She said it is possible for someone at home appear perfectly healthy while being a carrier of the coronavirus.

"If you're sharing a home, you've most likely all been exposed to each other if one of you is carrying COVID-19," Winner said. "Six-feet of distance will protect you; but social distancing at home is not going to make much of a difference regarding the virus."

Do not share eating utensils

"Research is telling us the virus can be shared by sharing eating utensils. Be sure they are sterilized at all times, as we should even as life without the virus," Winner said.

Water of 130 degrees Fahrenheit should kill the virus.

Sanitize remotes

"Remotes are always petri dishes, as they are one of the most common germ grabbers in your households. We know it lives on plastic up to three days and remotes are plastic. It is not a flat surface, so it may not be as prominent, but it could possibly be contaminated," Winner said. "You have to assume everyone has been exposed to the virus to make it easier to get your head around these practices and the uncertainty will promote discipline. Sanitizing the remotes and then your hands after use is the best way to protect against sharing the virus."

Engage the entire family in household chores

"As a Health Educator, I would say that this is the best time for families to practice healthy protective behaviors that will last a lifetime. It is the perfect time to help children learn so many things about healthy behaviors, including how to keep the house clean. Hygiene and cleanliness are learned behaviors," Winner said. "It's a great idea to assign responsibilities according to rooms. Break up the house into areas, so the instruction is more applicable to those areas. Be specific in guiding children how to wipe down surfaces, door knobs, remotes and sink areas., etc. A deep clean on one day out of the week is always a good idea."

Properly dispose of trash

"Remember to safely dispose of the paper towels in the trash or rags being used in the washing machine. Teach your family members how to safely dispose of the trash. Tighten it up, take it out to the trash can using a paper towel for the door handle, then throw out the paper towel and wash, wash, wash your hands," Winner emphasized.

Use soap and water

"We know that good ole soap and water has prevented the spread of disease since the 1800s. Experts recommend using liquid soap and water on surfaces or popular household disinfectant if it's available. You don't have to use bleach or other potentially corrosive products," Winner said. "Make it a point to teach children to properly wash and sanitize their hands. Washing hands is key to preventing the spread of germs."

Maintain a healthy immune system

"A healthy immune system is essential right now, so exercise and eating well is highly recommended," Winner said.

If you develop symptoms

"If someone is showing symptoms of a cough, difficulty breathing, fever, etc, seek medical advice. With more extreme symptoms of shortness of breath, call an ambulance. In the event that this happens, that family member should be isolated to an area of the house away from the others as much as possible," Winner concluded.