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Measures You Can Take In A Proactive Role To Keep You & Your Family Healthy Amidst The Coronavirus Outbreak

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Published on: March 13, 2020

Since there have been more cases of coronavirus or COVID – 19 in the united States, the proactive measures in which we must engage has changed.  Therefore, measures to take a proactive role to keep you and your family healthy require an update.

At this time, Trump has issued a travel ban to Europe and other countries that have outbreaks of COVID – 19 beginning today.  The governor of Ohio has closed all schools due to a small outbreak in the State.  Despite having 32 cases of infection and one confirmed death from COVID – 19, the governor of Georgia has “asked” daycare centers and schools to “consider” closing for at least two weeks.  Gov. Kemp has requested that all schools allow time for proper handwashing.  How many young children do you know that can practice proper handwashing?  My child thought if you ran the water over the hands then slid them down the towel, you were done.  Increased testing should start within the next week in order to help identify individuals who have the virus but are asymptomatic.  The US has now entered a community transmission stage in some areas.

Changes to the previous proactive measures will appear in blue.

Make sure you have adequate tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.  Discard the tissue afterward without touching the surface on which you coughed or sneezed.  Handkerchiefs are notorious breeding grounds for bacteria.  You can cover with a sleeve, just be sure to wash and dry the item afterward.  Don’t touch your face with hands that have not been thoroughly washed.

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Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, handling dirty clothes, and other items with warm soapy water, lathering for at least 20 seconds, making sure to wash all surfaces, under the fingernails and at the nail bed including the wrists. If you sing “Happy Birthday” then add at the end, “and many more”, the time is 20 seconds.  Pay particular attention to the areas between the fingers and areas/divots around the thumb.  Handwashing should take place at least 7 – 10 times per day, depending on your actions – after every restroom use, before and after eating, when dirty, after coughing and sneezing, and before touching anywhere on your face.  Dry your hands thoroughly.  Change out hand towels and towels used for wiping hands regularly.

Other disinfectants – Chlorine bleach, Hydrogen Peroxide – careful, it kills good tissue as well as bad tissue and bacteria, betadine iodine.

To make a chlorine bleach disinfecting solution, you mix one part of chlorine bleach to nine parts of water.  This would equate to ¼ cup of bleach to 2 ¼ cups of water.  You can then place in a spray bottle for the disinfecting spray.  When mixing, be sure the area is well ventilated and wear old clothes to prevent discoloration should you spill any.  It is advisable to pour the bleach in first.  This can be used to spray countertops, faucets and handles, toilets and toilet seat and shower and bathtub.  If being used in food preparation areas, be sure to rinse the solution from the surface after letting the spray sit 10 minutes.

Be sure to clean the refrigerator handles, the inside surfaces of the refrigerator touched frequently, oven door handles, eye control knobs or touchpad on the stove, microwave outside and handle, coffee pot handle and coffee maker, kitchen faucet, and other applicable kitchen appliances with the 1:9 bleach solution.  The virus can survive for a considerable length of time at lower temperatures due to the ability of the virus to tolerate warmer climates.

Do not mix ammonia with any chlorine bleach or product that contains chlorine bleach.  The combination produces toxic fumes.

Consider an area in your home to leave your shoes.  The soles are dirty and can be vectors for disease that could spread it into the home.  The tops could be contaminated as well.  If you have a small shallow tray, you can place a small amount of the bleach solution in the bottom and place your shoes in it for 10 minutes to sanitize the bottoms.  Be sure to remove any debris from the shoes first.  You can spray the tops of shoes and inside with disinfectant spray, non-chlorine bleach, to kill pathogens on that surface.  Rinse and dry the bottom of the shoes.

Ladies, we need to think about our purses and bags.  These need to be left at the door for the same reasons as shoes.  If possible, clean the handles with a disinfectant wipe, as well as outside surfaces.  Clean the bottom of the purse thoroughly.

When out in public, keep hand sanitizer handy and use it often.  If you cannot get hand sanitizer, the bottled alcohol on a paper towel will work as well.  Stop shaking hands.  And stop with the kissing on each cheek.  Keep a good distance from others.  Avoid touching your face with your hands while in public.  Avoid hugging.

Disinfect items used often  – cell phones, computer keyboards, computer mouse, steering wheels, door knobs, car door handles, etc.  Wipe down any inside car surfaces you touch upon exiting the vehicle.  That would mean to pay attention to all console control buttons and any control buttons on the door.  Don’t forget the keys and key fob.  You don’t have to purchase alcohol wipes.  You can keep regular 70% -90% bottled alcohol on hand, apply it to a paper towel then wipe down the items.  Alcohol evaporates rapidly so should not hurt your electronics.  You should rub the surface using a bit of elbow grease.  Disinfectant sprays work on a multitude of surfaces, but don’t spray on electronics.

Avoid crowds as much as possible.  Then keep a good distance, about 12 feet, from others, if you have to be in a crowd.  Twelve feet or 4.5 meters is now the recommended distance one should maintain from others.  It might be time to consider limiting your church activities as well.  Limit your activities accordingly – skip that concert, festival, airplane trip, bus or train trip and definitely avoid overseas travel.  It’s also time to skip the gym and do home workouts.  Do not travel by airplane, bus or train.  These methods of transportation place people in close proximity in enclosed spaces for extended periods.  Use your personal vehicle.

Be mindful of family members and other who are at high risk – weak immune systems, heart problems, respiratory diseases such as COPD, asthma, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, kidney problems, rheumatoid arthritis taking immunosuppression therapy medication, etc.  High risk individuals should limit their outings.  Individuals with high risk family members should be ready to assist them if they become ill.  Practice good handwashing and hygiene before coming in contact with high risk individuals.

Ultraviolet light is known to kill the coronavirus so items exposed to sunlight for a about 30 minutes to one hour on all sides should eradicate the virus if any is on the object.  Objects may need to be rotated to expose all surfaces.  If there is no sunlight, use an alternate source of disinfection.

Heat is another good bacteria and virus killer.  Dishcloths and sponges used in the kitchen, as well as washcloths, can be placed in the microwave for 60 secs on high to kill the bugs.  Likewise, placing items in the dryer on high heat will kill germs but you have to wash the items first.  On high heat, drying items at least 28 minutes should do the trick.  Also, you can hang clothes to dry in the sun – it kills germs remember – 30 minutes on each side if the clothes are dry is enough to kill the pathogens.  The sun can also fade clothes so be aware of that.  And, be sure to run a wash cycle using bleach after washing clothes to disinfect the washing machine.  Don’t use fabric softener as it can coat the clothes trapping germs.

Lots of clothing items these days cannot take a lot of heat or high washing temperatures because the items will be damaged.  Plus, most home water heaters are not set high enough to kill all pathogens or dust mites.  In this case, using an additive to sanitize your laundry works well.  One cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle will kill bacteria.  I tend to avoid hydrogen peroxide because it can bleach out certain fabrics.  OxiClean is a good sanitizer because it relies on oxygen to sanitize.  Borax added to your regular detergent will provide sanitizing benefits as well.  If you do not have cats, one cup of a pine oil product in the wash works (the higher concentration of pine oil, the better).  Always test a small amount on inconspicuous areas of clothing to make sure no harm will come to the fabric.  There is also Lysol Laundry Sanitizer for the wash but it can get a bit pricey.  Most of these products you should already have in the home.  If not, they are readily available.  There are some essential oils that can kill pathogens, but those are not always readily available or affordable for some.

Keep in mind that just because the appropriate amount of laundry detergent is good doesn’t mean more is better.  The excess detergent can actually trap pathogens since that excess creates a film on the clothing.

It has been discovered that coronavirus can survive in fecal matter (poop) for up to nine days.  Therefore, good bathroom hygiene on all surfaces is important.  Use the 1:9 bleach solution on surfaces, letting stand approximately 10 minutes before rinsing.  The bleach solution can be used to spray down bathtubs and showers surfaces to disinfect.

Be sure to have adequate food, medication, and other supplies, particularly for your pets.  Make sure you have adequate amounts of first aid supplies – antifebriles, antibiotic ointment, bandaids, cough medication, antihistamines, etc.  If you are on city water, you can use a filter to remove the particulates suspended in it if it becomes necessary.  You can also fill plastic bottles with water and set them in the sun for six hours to “sanitize” the water.  Individuals using their own private water source in the form of a well should not have to do anything extra.  However, our household does filter the water to remove particulates.

If you have pets, keep their food and water bowls clean – clean daily.  Dog owners should be disinfecting leashes and harnesses if you take your dog out in public, to dog parks, or veterinarian.  Be sure and clean their feet before placing in the car and before going in the house.  Backpacks or other bags used to hold items and water for the dog, should be treated like a woman’s purse – leave it as the door and use a non-harmful disinfecting method to kill pathogens.  At this time, it is unknown if coronavirus can be spread to pets.  Best practices would say to clean around our furry family members, just in case.

If you need to disinfect your drinking water, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine bleach (unscented) to one gallon of water.  Let it sit for 30 minutes before drinking.  If you have a filter, you can pour the disinfected water through the filter to remove the chlorine molecules.  Be sure to disinfect the container before filling with water using 1 teaspoon of bleach to one quart of water, shake well making sure to coat all sides, then let stand for 30 seconds.  Pour out solution and let air dry.

Consider using pick up services or home delivery for as many things as possible – pet food, medications through mail order, groceries.  It will help reduce your exposure to crowds.  You can also use drive-through pharmacy services.  Make sure you use hand sanitizer afterward, disinfect the steering wheel and other surfaces in the car that can be touched, and wash your hands when you get home.  Do not touch your face until after you wash your hands.

If you do not have storable food supplies, such as MREs, you can find sources online to get those.  However, these food supply entities are experiencing a high volume of orders.  Some sites indicate an 8-10 week delay in shipping from the date you place your order.  It is indicated on one site that only 10% of orders will ship in 1-2 days and everything is on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Get in line now if you want or need storable food.

It is possible that supply lines could be disrupted so be sure to prepare for that.  Keep a full tank of gas and get some cash from the bank to have on hand.  Be prepared to stay home if you are sick.  And, high-risk individuals should stay at home as much as possible.  If it is announced there is a case of coronavirus in your community, be prepared to shelter in place for extended periods of time, particularly if you reside with a high-risk individual.

Boost your immune system naturally through black elderberry, mega doses of Vitamin C – it’s water-soluble so it is safe to take mega doses, Vitamin B complexes, and Vitamin D – only within the recommended doses because it is not water-soluble and can build up in the system, and eat a variety of foods and protein sources to get all the nutrients needed.  If you choose, you can also take a multi-vitamin.  However, before taking any type of supplement, check with your physician first to make sure it is not going to interact with anything you are already taking.  It has been suggested that Vitamin D is a critical key to a healthy immune system and critical to limit coronavirus in the body, but DO NOT CONSUME MORE THAN THE RECOMMENDED DOSAGE.

Continue to remain calm and don’t panic.  Be prudent and mindful.  Once we let emotion control us, we lose our ability for rational, logical thought critical to decision-making processes.   Remember, not everyone is going to do any of these things taking the mindset that it’s okay because it’s not in their neighborhood.  You don’t know where everyone in your town or county has been, who they have come in contact or who their contacts have been in contact.  Moreover, as supply chains are still in operation, you have no idea where anything has been or who has come in contact with it.

Be prepared for schools, daycare facilities, and colleges/universities/trade schools in your areas to close.  Those individuals who can work from home should consider making those arrangements now.  Please stay home if you think you have been exposed to coronavirus or you are feeling unwell.  Being proactive means taking personal responsibility for one’s self.

Take the attitude of grandmothers of yesteryear – “Cleanliness is next to godliness”.  Bathe daily and clean your home regularly.

If you do get sick, the body’s natural defenses will activate.  Fevers are beneficial, but, don’t let the fever get too high.  At temperatures of 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, the body is doing its work.  Plenty of rest and fluids, keeping warm, and eating if hungry will help the body work.  If the fever gets above that, antifebrile medication, tepid baths, and a phone call to the doctor is warranted.  You can take cough medicines that help to loosen those secretions to cough those up, if you have a cough.  Spit into a tissue and discard without touching the surface containing the secretions.  Decongestants are good to clear stuffy noses.  If you have high blood pressure or another condition that limits decongestant use, check with your physician first.  Always make sure that over-the-counter medications are not going to interact unfavorably with any current medications you are taking.  Limit contact with others.

If you do become ill, change your sheets daily or every other day depending on the fever.  Wash the bedclothes as soon as possible.

If you have masks that are at least N95, are high risk for infection as previously identified, and coronavirus cases are near your community or in your community, this would be the time to begin using the masks when going out in public.  Remember though, the masks become contaminated and will need to be changed out frequently.  Use them sparingly.  Wash your hands after handling a contaminated mask.

When discussing these measures, this is geared toward adults.  If you have children, seek the advice of your pediatrician.

Other resources for additional information on coronavirus and proactive measures, check out The Patriot Nurse on You Tube.  Please leave a comment and hit the like button on videos you like.  She also has a handwashing video to help you understand and become proficient in proper handwashing.

If you would like to keep abreast of what is happening with coronavirus (countries affected, number of cases, number of deaths, etc.), check out Dr. John Campbell on YouTube.  He is creating daily content on the virus.

As this coronavirus progresses through the US, I will continue to update any of this information to keep you informed of proactive and reactive measures you can take to protect you and your family.

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