This pandemic has taken every person by alarm and our lives seem to be frozen as everybody is waiting for a ray of sunlight to come. However, we can’t lose hope and while some things may go back to normal, there are certain daily habits that will change forever due to coronavirus.
For example, because of this global pandemic, we had to rethink every single item that we carry around with us every day. From phones to credit cards, here are some items that could be magnets for the coronavirus, and that’s why we should disinfect them accordingly.
Your sunglasses are likely to pick up germs from different surfaces such as restaurant tables, handbags or even from your hands after you’ve touched a surface that hasn’t been properly cleaned and sanitized. And, unlike your wallet and keys, a pair of sunglasses can’t be tucked away in your pocket, so that’s why they are more exposed.
“[Sunglasses] get tossed around without a thought behind it,” says Abe Malkin, MD, founder and medical director of Concierge MD LA. “Placed on our shirt collars, thrown in our car, in and out of its case without sanitation for days, albeit weeks at a time. It’s shielding our eyes from harmful UV rays, but not the droplets of a cough or sneeze,” he added.
It has been confirmed by healthcare professionals that the coronavirus can live on surfaces like metal, glass, or plastic for many hours or even days, depending on the surface. Now, be my guest: What item that’s found everyday in your pocket is made of these materials?
Yes, your phone. “When you put your cell phone down somewhere, it picks up any bacteria or viruses that may be on that surface,” explains Roberto Contreras II, MD, regional medical director of Borrego Health. “You set your phone down and then pick it up, and introduce all that bacteria to your face, resulting in potential exposure to a pathogen that can get you sick.”
Mike Sevilla, MD, a practicing family physician in Salem, Ohio, says that the best way to deal with this COVID-19 magnet is to take disinfection seriously. “Your smartphone can be sanitized by wiping it down using a commercial disinfectant wipe,” he says. “Another option is using devices which expose the smartphone to ultraviolet light, which helps to disinfect electronic equipment.”
As we already mentioned, the coronavirus can live for days on certain surfaces such as metal. And, the number one metal object we use every single day is our keys. They are “something we often use, don’t sanitize, and we may inadvertently touch our faces after usage,” says Candice Williams, MD, a board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management specialist based in Los Angeles.
We all use our keys when we return home, and, perhaps we use them at a time when it’s been a while since we last washed our hands. And even if we do wash our hands before we leave the house, keys are one of the last things we grab before we go, picking up all those germs we’ve left on them yesterday.
4. Wallet or purse
“A woman’s purse is usually in her direct possession, meaning that it is frequently exposed to your respiratory droplets,” according to Jamil Abdurrahman, MD, and Idries Abdurrahman, MD.
“Add to this the fact that most people touch their purse and wallet multiple times a day, and the fact that the things in your purse and wallet are often touched by multiple people, and you have items that are very high risk for carrying and transmitting the COVID-19 virus,” he explained.
Wallets and purses are most likely to pick up germs if we think about how they are placed. They end up on a chair, a table, or even on the ground. Any of these places could be contaminated with the virus particles from the last person who touched them.
5. Credit cards
Yes, cards are safer than cash, but those quick exchanges are red flags for you and your credit card. “As we swipe at vendor locations thinking that this is safer than exchanging monetary paper to lessen human contact, we don’t realize that credit cards get hardly any TLC,” says Malkin.
“People use them frequently to purchase items online as well, so that card has been exposed to different surfaces besides the inside of a wallet.” Malkin points out that it’s not that uncommon for someone to even pop the credit card in their mouth as they’re struggling to close a bag or trying to find where they put their wallet.
Vandana A. Patel, MD, clinical advisor for online pharmacy Cabinet, actually suggests that if your credit card touched someone else’s hand, you should sanitize it as soon as possible after paying and before placing it into your wallet or purse.
She also notes that as harmful as a credit card might be, it’s a lot better than cash, especially when referring to our current situation. “If you can use a credit card, that is preferable over cash, as you can sanitize a credit card easier than cash, while reducing the transfer of material from person to person.”
Not only is it way more difficult to sanitize bills, but at least, when it comes to a credit card, you know where it’s been. When a salesperson or delivery person hands you over a $5 bill, you have virtually no clue where that’s came from—or even worse: who’s sneezed on it.
“Many infection specialists are stating that the use of currency like bills and coins have the potential for carrying the coronavirus,” says Sevilla. “If using a completely electronic method of payment is not feasible, then using hand sanitizer both before and following the handling of currency should be enough to lower your risk of contracting coronavirus from currency.”
Okay, so you’re washing your hands properly now, but how about the “second-skin” of your outer layer of clothes? That’s the word Tracey Evans, PhD, a medical researcher and science writer for Fitness Savvy uses to describe one’s coat or jacket.
She points out that a jacket often touches all sorts of germ-packed surfaces such as elevator walls and countertops, where they “will pick up respiratory droplets, transfer from microorganisms from a till to a sleeve, etc.” Evans recommends always getting rid of these “second-skins” upon arriving home, and washing them more often than you might otherwise.
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