5 Sneaky Ways You're Exposing Yourself to Coronavirus
Experts reveal the seemingly innocuous things you're doing that may make you vulnerable.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, you may be taking pains to protect yourself from potential exposure. You're staying home, social distancing when you must go out, and wearing masks and gloves. But did you know that those gloves might actually be making you more vulnerable to virus transmission—and that six feet won't necessarily protect you? We asked the experts to reveal the surprising ways that you might be unknowingly exposing yourself to the coronavirus, so you can shore up your stay-safe strategy stat! And for another way you're putting yourself at risk, check out This Is the Worst Thing You Do Every Time You Go Outside.
You're wearing gloves.
Gloves protect your hands from direct contact with potentially contaminated surfaces—but many of us fail to give gloves the attention we'd give our hands. As a result, you run the risk of accidental exposure through the very measure meant to protect you. If you wash and sanitize your hands regularly, but aren't inclined to treat your gloves the same way, you're better off not wearing them at all—because they are equally as contaminated as your hands would be after touching a contaminated surface.
"Gloves can give a false sense of security," says South Carolina-based dentist Bill Cranford, DMD, MAGD. "They only work if you wash your hands and stop from touching your face and remember that gloves are no longer safe after they have touched something that is not sterile." And for more glove mistakes to avoid, check out Gloves Won't Protect You From Coronavirus If You Make These Mistakes.
You're using food delivery utensils.
Throughout the pandemic, food delivery has stayed up and running even while dining in isn't an option. The food itself does not pose a significant risk, but you might want to ditch the utensils that come with your meal. "Food delivery has been deemed generally safe under the current pandemic," says Kevin Geick, a technician at the disease and biohazard cleanup company Bio Recovery. "But while the food may be prepared in a safe manner, utensils tend to be out in an open area, potentially being exposed to coronavirus particles." And to avoid making dangerous mistakes in your car, check out 7 Mistakes You're Making Every Time You Get in Your Car.
You're picking up something you dropped.
The coronavirus is known to settle out of the air fairly quickly. But while those respiratory droplets do not hang out in the air indefinitely, they may fall to the ground where they could contaminate an object that you hadn't even considered an exposure risk. "The heavier of these respiratory objects tend to fall to the ground," Geick says. "If you drop something to the ground, pick it up, and do not thoroughly clean it, you can potentially come into contact with the virus."
You're snuggling your pet.
Many people are spending more time than ever before with their pets (either to their pet's great pleasure or chagrin, depending on temperament). But without proper care, these interactions can actually lead to unintentionally spreading the virus among humans.
"The first thing many people do after walking into their home, even before washing their hands, is greeting their pets. The virus can be transmitted directly onto the animal, therefore anyone who [makes] contact with the animal can be exposed," says Geick.
You're social distancing only to the letter of the law.
Beaches and parks around the country are reopening, and outdoor environments are generally considered much safer for socializing than indoor ones. But don't make the mistake of thinking that the stated six-foot distancing guideline is some magic number—rather, it's really the minimum space you should put between yourself and others, even outside. The virus can spread much further, sometimes aided by wind in outdoor environments.
"At the beach or outside, people tend to lose the understanding of upwind and downwind," says ear, nose, and throat surgeon Shawn Nasseri, MD. "You can be six feet apart, but with the wind blowing, it is still a risk. People are going to the beach for fresh air, but [with] anything out in the open right now, it makes sense to stay 10 to 15 feet apart because of this." And to make sure you stay safe during your next beach trip, check out 5 Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make at the Beach.