EVERYDAY STEPS TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY & STAFF FROM INFECTIONS
Infections are common in every human society. As people continue to interact with family and work colleagues, there is the likelihood that infections can be passed from one person to another. In times of outbreaks like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) which can pass from person to person, Facility Managers have the duty to ensure total health and safety of people who interact with infected persons. Cleaning and disinfection is very important to control the spread of infections and protect family and colleagues. In this article, we will explore the best step-by-step process to clean and disinfect the affected places in the home and offices.
How to clean and disinfect affected places in the home and office
- It is important to always wear disposable gloves and protective gears to clean and disinfect:
Before you begin any form of cleaning or disinfection of a place where someone with a with a contagious infection, be sure to wear a pair of gloves. Disposable gloves and protective gears are best to ensure that the person(s) undertaking the cleaning or disinfection will not end up being infected with the same diseases. Some viruses and bacteria can survive for some hours on various surfaces after being infected by a person carrying them. You don’t want to be the victim when you are in for the rescue.
- Frequently clean surfaces with soap and water
Most soaps and other mild detergents have the ability to kill bacteria and viruses. Cleaning frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, counter-tops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc with soap and washing or wiping with water is very necessary to curb any survival and possible transfer of the bacteria or virus to other people who get into contact with them at home or the office.
- Follow manufacturers instructions when using disinfectants and detergent
Before you disinfect, it is important that you have already cleaned with water and soap or other appropriate detergent.
When using a disinfectant or detergent, you should always ensure that the environmental safety concerns are considered. You can check if the product has been approved by the EPA, GSA and FDA before using them.
Also make sure that you follow strictly the instructions written by the manufacturers on how to use the disinfectants. Most manufacturers recommend that you keep the surface wet for a period of time and also make sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Diluted household bleach solutions can also be used appropriately on the surface areas. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses and other bacteria when properly diluted. Normally, you need 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water and leave it on the surface for about 1 minute before proceeding.
Alcohol base disinfectants are also effective against infections. Always make sure that such solutions applied contain at least, 70% alcohol.
Three class of items will require disinfection in any major disinfection and cleaning. These are soft surfaces like sofa, electronics and clothing.
When disinfecting electronics, such as mobile phone and tablets, touch screens, keyboards and remote controls, you can use alcohol base solutions in the absence of any manufacturers’ instructions. This can help kill viruses and bacteria.
Make sure the surfaces are thoroughly dried afterwards.
- Soft Surfaces
For soft surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, drapes and sofas, clean the surface using soap and water or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces. Harsh detergents and chemicals will destroy such surfaces so following the manufacturer’s instruction will be most helpful.
For clothing, towels, linens and other items, launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely. Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from a person who is infected. Do not shake dirty laundry. Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces. Remove gloves, and wash hands right away.
- Wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks in the cleaning process, including handling trash.
- Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash.
- Gloves and gowns should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Always wash immediately after removing gloves and after contact with a person who is sick.
- Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
- Additional key times to wash hands include:
- After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- After using the restroom.
- Before eating or preparing food.
- After contact with animals or pets.
- Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g., a child).
In a case where you have a sick person in your home or facility who has been infected with a virus or bacteria:
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Close off areas used by the person who is sick. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. Wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
Target work-spaces and other frequently used places
Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and telephones. After deep cleaning, continue all routine cleaning and disinfection of the place.
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