“Since we know that the virus is transmitted through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes and contact with contaminated surfaces, there are steps we can take to stay safe. Here are some things to consider when creating an “isolation zone” in your home:
- Designate a separate room where you can close the door, if possible. If that’s not an option, find a space where there is at least 6 feet between the sick person and other people.
- Those who are not sick should use a different bathroom from those who are, if available. If a separate bathroom is not available, the sick person should clean the bathroom after each use. Others in the home should try to let the bathroom “air out” for at least 30 minutes before using it again. And make sure that everyone in the home – regardless of which bathroom they’re using – closes the toilet lid when flushing and runs the exhaust fan to limit viral particles in stool from hanging out in the air.
- Try to make sure that any shared spaces in the home have good air flow, with an air conditioner or an open window. Air filters and air purifiers can also be helpful in these situations — look for air filters that are designated MERV 13 or higher. Humidifying the air can also be helpful, because viruses live longer at lower humidity. Setting the humidity to between 40-60% is ideal.
- If possible, the sick family member should wear a face mask when they are around other people (a basic surgical mask is what’s recommended) . Caretakers can use one too when within 6 feet of a sick person. If a face mask is not available, limit time in close contact to less than 15 minutes and disinfect all surfaces that the sick person has come in contact with. If not having a face mask makes you feel anxious, you can make a DIY face mask at home, though be aware that we still don’t know how much protection a DIY mask truly offers. If you do make one, make sure it fits snugly around your mouth and nose. The University of Cambridge did some studies looking at the protection you may get from different materials: from vacuum cleaner bags to cotton t-shirts.
- Avoid sharing household items like dishes, cups, utensils, towels, bedding, or other items.
- Don’t allow the sick family member to interact with or care for any pets in the home.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
- Wash laundry thoroughly. If you can, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Remember to clean your hands immediately after removing your gloves.
- Place all used disposable gloves, face masks, and other contaminated items in a bag before disposing of them with other household waste.
Make sure to monitor your loved one’s symptoms and call the healthcare team immediately if their symptoms worsen.”