COVID-19 Safety Tips


As governments around the world try to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus, scientists have been scrambling to supply us with facts that can help us to make good decisions. The first few months of the pandemic were punctuated by our attempts to understand how the virus spreads and finding measures that are effective in decreasing risk. While epidemiologists are still working to learn more about the virus, we do now have more information about how to protect ourselves, and many Canadian jurisdictions are relaxing restrictions and preparing for the opening of venues such as retail stores, barbershops, and restaurants, as well as planning for school to reopen in September. If you’ve spent several weeks working from home and isolating from friends and family members in other households, it can be daunting to think about venturing out into the world again. You may even be experiencing some anxiety about returning to work or other activities. Fortunately there are a number of recommendations, based on public health guidelines, about how to stay safe from the virus.


Although there are still some “unknowns” about COVID-19, experts agree on a few basic strategies, including:


  • Wash your hands! Frequent hand-washing is perhaps the most effective way to stay safe from the virus. Never touch your face with unwashed hands, and wash your hands several times a day, particularly after touching surfaces that may be contaminated, picking up a delivery package or having contact with another person. You should wash for at least 20 seconds. Wet your hands with warm water, add soap and lather, rubbing palms together. Rub the fingers and around the fingers, then rub the back of the hands with palms of opposite hands. Scrub the fingertips in palms of opposite hands, and then scrub thumbs. Rinse thoroughly under running water. If you’re unable to wash your hands, a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used, and you should remember to pack sanitizer with you whenever you leave the house. Practice other types of body hygiene, too, such as sneezing into your sleeve, and putting the lid down whenever flushing the toilet.


  • Wear a mask! COVID-19 can be spread from infected individuals who have a few or no symptoms and are unaware that they may be infected. A non-medical mask or face covering is intended to protect others from your infectious droplets. Wearing a mask or face covering is especially important when you are in a situation where physical distancing is not possible, such as on public transit, crowded workspaces, or in smaller stores. You can make your own mask from two layers of tightly-woven cotton fabric, or purchase one. Face masks should fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops, maintain their shape after washing and drying, and be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping. Wash your hands immediately before putting on the mask, and wash your hands before taking it off. Try not to touch it while you are wearing it, and adjust it as little as possible. Change your mask as soon as it feels slightly damp, or if it gets dirty. The Mayo Clinic recommends changing your non-medical cloth face mask every day, and transporting it in a clean paper bag with the outer surface folded in on itself. When you are finished with a mask, if it cannot be washed, please put it into a waste receptacle. Cloth masks should be washed regularly in a hot laundry cycle with detergent; wash your hands after putting the mask into the washing machine. Never share face masks with anyone else, and never use non-breathable material to make a mask. Please note that children under two or those with severe breathing difficulties should not wear a mask.


  • Practice physical distancing. The most effective way of avoiding the virus is to stay away from others. The greatest risks come when you are less than two metres away from another person, or if you If you can work from home, do so. Stay in touch with family and friends via phone, text, email, or video chat. If you must leave your house to get groceries, to exercise, or for medical reasons, wear a mask, and remain at least two metres away from others. Avoid getting into elevators with others, and if you must take public transit, try to travel at times when there will be fewer passengers. Don’t share food or utensils, participate in group sports, hug others, or shake hands. As the provinces allow friends to form social circles, make sure you follow the directions closely.


Finally, make a point to check official news regarding COVID-19 and follow any new guidelines recommended by national and provincial public health authorities. Stay strong, take care, and stay healthy!