Here is how you can keep your family safer at home from the coronavirus

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The verdict is out, the new coronavirus will linger on surfaces, and a couple of medical research publications published in the preprint database medRxiv, New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of Hospital Infection have confirmed this.

The preliminary findings have established that the virus may exist as an aerosol for up to 3 hours (under very limited conditions), on copper for up to 4 hours, on cardboard up to 1 day and up to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel.

However, studies have also found that the virus does not survive beyond 30 degrees Celsius and can be effectively eradicated with common household disinfectants.

Aside from keeping strict personal hygiene, practising everyday preventive actions in your home is a big step in helping to prevent the spread of this respiratory illness.

In fact, CDC recommends we do both, even if nobody at home is sick. Here is how you can start in the following 6 ways:

1. Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting

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Cleaning is about removing dirt and grime from surfaces. However, cleaning alone will not kill germs and virus and cleaning is simply the first step in eradicating them. Removing dirt and grime will reduce the virus numbers and lower the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting is the next step in killing the germs and virus as it involves using chemicals to kill germs and virus that lives on the surfaces.

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You should use disposable cloths or rags to clean and disinfect places such as toilet surfaces and frequently touched areas. Avoid using a spray disinfectant, as the jet-spray could the virus and germs to spread further. Hence, you can consider spraying the disinfectant into cloths or rags before wiping the surfaces.

2. Target the most frequently touched surfaces and objects

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The most frequently touched surfaces and objects at home include the doorknobs, light switches, cabinet handles, tables, kitchen countertops, sinks bathroom faucets and toilet seat covers.

Electronics such as computer or laptop keyboard and mouse, digital tablets, phones, TV, air-con remote and buttons should also be cleaned and disinfected as well. All of them should be regularly cleaned at least once daily, with a household detergent and plenty of water prior disinfecting.

Do you know?

Based on the University of Arizona, Your keyboard may be harbouring 400 times more bacteria than your toilet seat!

Not every household chemicals are suitable for cleaning your digital tablets and phones and it is generally safe to use disinfectant wipes (which contains 70 per cent Isopropyl alcohol) to clean the screen. Don't forget to take out and wash the tablet and phone covers too!

3. Know the list of disinfectants to use for your home

You can refer to the National Environmental Agency (NEA) list of household products and active ingredients for the disinfection. Remember to check the product label and use the product according to the instructions and keep them away from children.

This is because some of the products might be corrosive to metals, dangerous to use since they are flammable at high concentration at high temper. In addition, some might need to be diluted to be effective against germs and virus!

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The active ingredients and the concentrations which are effective against the germs and viruses include:

  1. Accelerated hydrogen peroxide (0.5 per cent)
  2. Benzalkonium chloride* (0.05 per cent)
  3. Chloroxylenol (0.12 per cent)
  4. Ethyl alcohol (70 per cent)
  5. Iodine in iodophor (50 ppm)
  6. Isopropanol (50 per cent)
  7. Povidone-iodine (1 per cent iodine)
  8. Sodium hypochlorite (0.05 - 0.5 per cent)
  9. Sodium chlorite (0.23 per cent)

4. Clothing, bags, bath towels, bed linens should be replaced and washed regularly too!

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Remember to wash your clothes, bags, bath towels, bed linens regularly too! Where possible, launder them with warmest appropriate water temperature settings, and dry them completely before taking them out.

If someone from your household has fallen sick, you should wash and keep the dirty laundry from the ill person separate from the rest of the family's laundry.

Where possible, use disposable gloves to handle the laundry and these gloves should not be used for other household purposes. Where possible, use a washable or disposable laundry liner for your laundry bag.

Do you know?

Changing clothes the moment you reach home helps to keep to keep harmful microbes at bay. This is because your clothes have picked up a wide range of microbes from different people or surfaces when you are outside.

5. Practice good personal hygiene even when you are at home

Being at home may give a false sense of security, and hence homeowners might be more lax about personal hygiene.

Such mentality is very dangerous and in fact, we should be vigilant at all times; you and your family members should continue to practice good toilet habits such as leaving the toilet seat cover down while flushing the toilets after use, washing hands before and after visiting the toilet or having a meal, or after carrying out cleaning, disinfecting and handling waste.

Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, toothpaste with others and sharing utensils and drinking glasses during meals should be stopped too.

6. Keep your home well ventilated!

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Another daily home preventive action includes keeping your home well ventilated by using fans and keeping the windows and doors open. Steer clear of air-conditioners which will create an ideal environment, which is cool and dry for viruses to thrive.

"Studies have shown that viruses thrive better in cool, dry climates, and they do not persist well in hot, humid environments (over 30 deg C and 80 per cent humidity level)."

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

This article was first published in Renonation.