The threat of the fast-spreading COVID-19 disease has changed the way people live throughout the globe. From businesses to private individuals, the “new normal,” dictated by the need to prevent further spread of the disease, entails keeping a safe distance from each other.
This has caused government officials to turn to advice from health authorities around the world to practise social distancing. With that comes limited mobility and, ultimately, difficulty in accessing essential goods.
But while the official advice is to remain home whenever possible, you cannot avoid leaving the house to secure basic necessities and supplies to sustain your family. Going out becomes even more unavoidable if you’re a key worker needed on the frontlines.
Still, there are ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones. This article tackles several safety tips when driving around for errands and work while staying COVID-19-free.
8 Anti-COVID-19 Best Practices When Going Out
Scientists are not yet sure about the exact lifespan of the SARS-CoV-2 virus outside the human body. However, studies on viruses under the same coronavirus family, such as SARS and MERS, revealed that these germs could survive on glass, metal, and plastic – three materials your car is made of – for as long as nine days.
To make sure that you remain virus-free as you go out and arrive home, follow these anti-COVID-19 best practices recommended by experts:
1. Keep your hands clean
The first and foremost tip health experts reiterate in anti-COVID-19 campaigns is to observe proper personal hygiene, with a heavy focus on frequent handwashing.
To make sure your hands stay clean and free of the coronavirus even without access to antibacterial soap and water, bring a hand sanitiser with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Use it to clean your hands whenever you touch anything outside to avoid spreading germs. Hand cleansing should also be done as soon as you enter the vehicle, and when you arrive home.
2. Disinfect high-touch areas of your vehicle (including your car keys)
Using antibacterial wipes, disinfect high-touch surfaces in your vehicle every time you go out to run an errand or for work. Make sure that you do this when you enter and exit the car or go out in public.
The parts of the vehicle that are frequently touched include:
- The steering wheel
- Interior door handles
- The gear-shift knob
- Radio knobs and buttons
- Cup holders
Besides these parts of the car, there’s another thing that most people neglect to disinfect: the car keys. The keys are some of the most often-touched personal items, so make sure that you give them a good wipe before and after a drive.
3. Plan your route and limit your stops
Preparation is the key to preventing the contraction and spread of the coronavirus, especially when you’re heading out. Even if you’ve been on the same route several times before, you still need to do some research before you go out. This will help you be ready for any delays due to temporary closures or prepare the necessary documents you need to pass through traffic checkpoints.
It would be best if you also considered checking the adjusted operating hours of the establishments you plan to visit. They should have some announcement on social media or their official website about this.
4. Consider having contactless fuel fill-ups
According to research, an average petrol pump handle is over 6,000 times dirtier than the buttons in a publicly used elevator. Even more surprisingly, it carries a whopping 11,835 times more germs than a public toilet seat.
Fortunately, there’s a relatively new petrol fill-up service that can help you work around this. To stay safe and reduce contact, have fuel delivered directly to you at your most convenient time. Such service brings fuel directly to the vehicle, wherever you are and whenever you need it.
These companies have dedicated pilots assigned to deliver completely contactless refuelling wherever the customer may be. Refuelling pilots are required to wear a mask and gloves throughout the fill-up to prevent potentially spreading the virus further. Plus, the fuel pump is wiped and sanitised carefully in between fill-ups.
5. Limit your passengers
Government regulations dictate the number of passengers that each vehicle is allowed to carry to ensure that social distancing is applied. Still, the safest way to go is to travel alone.
If, in case, you need to bring someone along, remind them to practise the same sanitising precautions you’ve been doing. Ask them to wear a mask, practise correct hand sanitising, and avoid touching too much of the car’s interior to prevent the spread of germs.
6. Replace the air filters
A car’s air-conditioning system comes with air filters that minimise the circulation of germs in the air. To make sure that they work effectively, replace the air filters according to the car manufacturer’s recommendations.
7. Don’t put packages on the backseat
All items carried into your vehicle’s interior pose a risk of introducing germs to the vehicle. To prevent this, make sure that you avoid putting cargo on the back seat.
Instead, place them in the boot or in the trunk. Once you arrive home, bring the groceries and other packages you brought in an area outside the house where you can disinfect them. Don’t forget to disinfect the part of the car where they were kept in.
After dealing with the packages, wash your hands with soap thoroughly.
8. Take extra precautions when you arrive home
Upon arriving home from running errands, do not let your guard down immediately. Instead, take extra precautions to keep your family safe from any germs that may be caught on your clothing, bags, and skin.
Leave your shoes outside, and have these sprayed or washed with a disinfectant solution. Put your outdoor clothes in a dirty clothes bag or directly in a washing machine. Then, take a shower immediately upon your arrival.
Better Safe Than Sorry
From keeping distance and staying home, to disinfecting high-touch surfaces and your hands all the time — all these recommended practices help prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.
If you have to go on a drive, heed the advice listed in this article. These measures should reduce – if not eliminate – any germs that you may have caught during a drive. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Antonio Al Asmar
Antonio is currently the General Manager at CAFU. Passionate about innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, Antonio is responsible for identifying growth opportunities for the company, overseeing budgets and coordinating business operations.
Prior to joining CAFU, where he has been since the company’s inception in 2018, Antonio had been working as a Senior Engagement Manager at Delta Partners in Dubai where his work focused on supporting clients in emerging markets across the Telecoms, Media and Digital sector and as a Program Manager at SETSintl in Beirut, where he was involved in major development projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition, Antonio has worked in junior roles for Value Partners Management Consultancy and A.T. Kearney.
Antonio holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a master’s degree in Management Engineering both from the American University of Beirut.