6 Steps to Break the Cross-Contamination Cycle
Cross-contamination is a term that most people didn’t know or consider much prior to the coronavirus pandemic, that is unless they were in food service or healthcare. But now many of us have become familiar with this virus-spreading threat. Cross-contamination – the transfer of bacteria, virus particles, or other microorganisms from one substance to another – happens constantly. It’s a threat every time we touch a door knob or hand over a credit card. So, let’s take a look at 6 steps that can help break the cross-contamination chain.
Wash your hands. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again – washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with warm water and soap is a key step in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. A thorough hand washing should last at least 20 seconds. It’s easy to count and wash at the same time, just sing through “Happy Birthday” twice.
Don’t share equipment. Many offices around the country have resumed in-person operations, with a variety of safety measures put into place. If you are working in shared spaces, it’s important to limit cross-contamination by only using your own phone, pens, keyboard, and other equipment. Every surface that is touched by more than one person is another chance for the coronavirus to spread.
- We mentioned phones in the step above, and your own cell phone can harbor myriad bacteria and contaminants. In fact, research has shown that the average cell phone is more contaminated than the seat of a public toilet. Every time you use your cell phone in public, it’s recommended to clean the phone with disinfectant wipes.
- Disinfectant wipes were a difficult item to snag in the earliest days of the pandemic, and remain an in-demand tool for fighting cross-contamination. But in order to effectively stop the spread of the coronavirus, it’s important that wipes, sprays, and solutions are used exactly according to their directions. Based on the potency of the disinfecting chemical, different products take different amounts of time to effectively kill the virus.
- Following proper procedures extends beyond the use of disinfecting chemicals. There is also a right and wrong way to handle your mask, and handling your mask correctly limits cross-contamination.
As an example, imagine a person who wears a mask covering their nose and mouth, as directed, while talking to a person who is infected with the coronavirus. Virus particles are blocked from entering the masked person’s mouth or nose, but invisible particles reach other parts of the body, including the neck. After the encounter, the mask is pulled down below the chin, for a little break. When that mask is pulled back up to the face, it drags the invisible particles from the neck up to the person’s mouth and nose, the danger zones that now make an infection more likely.
You should always remove your mask all the way when taking a break, washing your hands first, handling the mask by the ear loops, and washing your hands after you’re done.
- Our next step to limiting cross-contamination also requires proper mask handling. Used masks and unused masks should always be kept in separate containers. Many families keep a mask basket near the entrance of their home, and if you are wearing a reusable mask more than once between washes, you need to keep it isolated from the rest of your supply.
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- the maskSAFE Family