Experts warn that this year’s winter will be one of the hardest we would ever go through in recent memory, thanks to the COVID-19 crisis. It will be more difficult than normal because the pandemic will make things more complicated for public health workers—where before we only needed to worry about seasonal flu and colds, we also have to protect ourselves against the new coronavirus. But there are many safety precautions we can take to protect ourselves. Here are some of them.
Observe minimal public health standards.
- Physical distancing. While it’s tempting to spend time with your family, friends, and other loved ones during the holidays, there is also wisdom in foregoing our large gatherings for this year. The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) warns that there is a high risk of transmission when many people gather indoors to eat and interact at close distances. It’s much more prudent to stay home with your family or roommates to celebrate the holidays, to protect your high-risk loved ones from being infected by the virus. Besides, physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing; you can still spend the holidays with your friends and family through Zoom and other video conference programs. There are ways to throw virtual holiday parties that are memorable. The same goes for leaving the house for non-essential reasons—if you can help it, stay home. But should you decide to go on with your holiday festivities, follow the CDC’s guidelines for holiday celebrations.
- Mask-wearing. Experts continue to recommend the use of masks when outside. So if you need to run to the grocery or get gas, don’t forget to wear a CDC-approved mask.
- Thorough hand-washing. Wash your hands with water and soap as soon as you get home, or soon after you handle some cash, or after touching high-touch public surfaces like doorknobs and other handles. When outside, bring an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you so you can disinfect anytime.
Keep yourself warm.
Extreme changes in temperature and climate can greatly affect our health and immune system. Don’t forget to bundle up when you have to go outside. Staying warm is not just for your comfort; it’s also for your health. Even if you’re the type not to get too cold, you still need to keep your body temperature properly regulated. Make a habit of wearing coats and scarves when you go outside and using a blanket when you sleep. Check your HVAC system to ensure that everything is working the way it should and that your home will continue to have a comfortable temperature throughout the season.
Stay updated on all your vaccinations.
There may be COVID-19 vaccinations on the horizon, but we still can’t pin all our hopes on it. For now, consult with your primary healthcare provider about getting your flu shots and other helpful vaccines like pneumonia shots. Flu vaccines have been shown to prevent people from getting sick, reducing the risk of hospitalization. It can also be a crucial preventive tool for those suffering from chronic health conditions and who may be the most at-risk if they contract the virus that causes COVID-19. It can help to lift the burden off our frontline medical workers, and at the same time, can help protect the most vulnerable in society.
Keep every area of your house clean.
If we’re spending the majority of our days and weeks at home, then we might as well make sure that it remains illness-free. Here are some places to start:
- Wipe down all the high-touch surfaces, like countertops, doorknobs, and other handles. Viruses are weak and can only survive on surfaces for a few days, and you can help speed that process along by using DIY soapy water—you don’t need to use harsh chemicals like bleach.
- Maintain your HVAC system. If there is a need for some filter and air duct cleaning, consult with a team of HVAC professionals who can help you maintain your home’s indoor air quality and temperature.
- Humidify your home. Make sure that the air isn’t too dry to help prevent bronchitis and sinus infections. Your body can always use a little more moisture, especially during winter.
Consume foods that provide plenty of nutrients.
Lastly, make sure to consume foods rich in immune system-boosting nutrients like zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, protein, and selenium. Make a habit of drinking warm fluids, too, like ginger tea for a sore or dry throat.
Now more than ever, we need to do all that we can to take care of our health. This will all be over soon, but only if we all choose to do our part.