Here’s the first tip: don’t go. Staying home and having groceries delivered is the safest thing you can do, for yourself and others. In particular, seniors and anyone with a compromised immune system should stay home, if at all possible.
If you must go out to shop, here are some safety tips to observe:
- Other people are the biggest risk. Try to shop at off-hours and do your best to stay 6 feet away from others.
- Wear a mask. Even if wearing a mask, try not to touch your face.
- Wash your hands before and after shopping. If you don’t have disposable gloves—and even if you do—wash your hands before you go and immediately upon your return.
- If you wear disposable gloves, it’s still critical that you not touch your face. Your disposable gloves pick up germs from different surfaces, like jars and refrigerator case handles. Touching your face or your phone will spread those germs. If you do wear gloves, safely discard them as soon as you get home.
- If you don’t wear disposable gloves: You don’t have to wear gloves. If you don’t, wash your hands with soap and water before and after shopping. Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it often while you’re shopping.
- Leave your phone at home. Touching your phone is so ingrained, it is safer to leave it at home and avoid the temptation. Otherwise, you can spread germs from things you touch in the store to your phone. If you must bring your phone, wipe it down when you get home.
- Bring EPA-approved wipes. Generally, these are wipes that contain bleach, alcohol, or other virus-neutralizing agents. Some stores provide them, but if you have your own, bring them, just in case. Wipe down your cart, refrigerator handles, communal tongs, etc.
- Avoid handing cash or credit card to the clerk. Use self-checkout if it’s available. If not, avoid interacting with the clerk if you can; enter your credit card into the card reader yourself.
- To wipe down products at home, or not? According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 72 hours on plastic or stainless steel, although it decays exponentially. Experts say that rather than wiping down cereal boxes, jars, bags, etc., simply washing your hands after handling an item is a better protection.