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Tips to keep you safe when you’re social distancing outside

Protecting yourself even when you have to touch public surfaces is crucial, expert says

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, people are being asked to limit the time they spend in public. But there are essential things you may have to leave your house for: food, gas, cash. All the surfaces you end up touching when you’re out could be contaminated with coronavirus. Consumer Reports has tips to help keep you safe when you have to go out.

Pumping gas? You’ll have to touch the pump, nozzle and maybe the hose. Getting cash out of the ATM? You’re going to have to push keypad buttons or touch a screen. Going food shopping? You’ll need to push a shopping cart or carry a basket. Every one of those surfaces could potentially expose you to coronavirus.

“While this coronavirus appears to be primarily spread when people cough or sneeze and respiratory droplets land on those nearby, research suggests it may survive on surfaces made from a variety of materials, for hours or even days,” Sana Mujahid, Consumer Reports said.

To help protect yourself, Consumer Reports offers these tips to stay safe. Avoid touching surfaces with your fingertips. Instead, use a pen or your knuckle to press an elevator button or an ATM keypad or a touchscreen.

“If you can’t avoid touching a high-touch surface, you can also carry tissues with you, and use them to grab a doorknob or handrail. Just be sure to throw them away right after using. Another option is using your sleeve to cover your hand or finger,” Sana Mujahid, Consumer Reports said.

And your smartphone may not be a public surface, but it too can harbor bacteria, viruses and other germs. Clean it often with a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe. And of course, even after doing all of these things, wash your hands as soon as you can and avoid touching your face.

It is also recommended you power down your smartphone before cleaning it, and avoid using bleach, submerging it in cleaning agents, or allowing moisture to enter any openings.

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