Safety First

Jack’s Wednesday guest post appears on Wednesday again – – –

In a recent guest post I lauded Wendy for her work sourcing and distributing PPE, but she has another job closer to home. I’m 78 years old and smoked all my life so I’m in the high-risk segment. She knows how to safeguard me, and is taking it seriously! So, this could be good advice for anyone in the same position –

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  • We have three designated areas – in the house is safe; the back deck and yard is semi-safe; outside of that is unsafe. Different protocols for each. In the house we bleach floors anytime Wendy has done a significant outside trip (she is delivering stuff to medical facilities) and spray where she entered with 9:1 water:bleach solution. We bleach surfaces at least once a day, clean doorknobs in the safe area the instant they become unsafe, and wash hands very frequently. Going in and out the back deck and yard we change shoes, clean any latch or door we touch once a day, and wash hands with each trip.
  • When Wendy comes home from “out there,” her clothing goes in the washer immediately, then after showering she changes. She keeps the clothes she uses “out there” in a basket in the bathroom, in a closet with anything she brings back related to her work; everything sits 72 hours before going elsewhere. I don’t go near that closet and everything in it is assumed unsafe.
  • Wendy only allows me out to drop our trash at the local re-cycling center once every two weeks. I do the changing clothes and showering routine afterwards.
  • Wendy has established a local self-help group with local friends via Facebook and Messenger to safely exchange or communally purchase produce etc. If one person in the group goes out, they check on the others. These groups seem to work best when they have 4-6 families in them. Also, you need letters if you’re going to try to get restricted items. Include phone numbers and go to the manager before shopping. Many people are doing this. Some people are taking advantage of that, sadly.
  • When either of us has to go outside the safe areas or into town we wear cloth masks and rubber gloves. Unless the gloves get damaged, they are sprayed, and then put in a loose bag in the garage for 72 hours so they can be used again. Leaving the bag open to air keeps the gloves from molding while wet. We’ve been able to keep just a few pair of dishwashing gloves going for ages this way. We launder homemade masks and try to wait 72 hours before using them again. If she has to make a trip in rapid succession, she steams her face mask for 10 minutes (hold it above boiling water, not letting it get actually wet). It will still be moist and mushy and feels icky to wear, but clean.
  • The keys for our garage and other outside storage areas, our laptops, our phones and credit cards get wiped down every day with Clorox wipes.
  • Our garage is the ‘neutral place’ – anything that’s been bought from a shop and doesn’t spoil goes there for four days and then sprayed or wiped before coming into the house.
  • Mail is wiped thoroughly. Wendy is saving the old bleach wipes that aren’t too soiled in a metal can, in case we have to make our own 9:1 solution and put them in a dispenser again later. They can be reused in this way. If it comes to that.
  • Wendy wraps her hair into a scarf or hat before she goes out. This helps avoid infection if someone stands too close behind her, but it also keeps her hair from trailing across her face and her touching it. Also, it makes her look rather adorable.
  • We meet weekly online with assorted friends. Sometimes we eat together, sometimes we talk. It helps. A lot. As Wendy said early on, “Mental health has to be guarded, too. Who we calling?”

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