6 Precautions You Must Take Before Visiting Family
Planning on seeing family as the pandemic subsides? Make sure to follow these safety measures.
While recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stay at home as much as possible and avoid non-essential travel are still in place, people are getting antsy to see their families again. And after months in quarantine, only able to communicate virtually, you too may be considering an in-person visit with loved ones in the near future. Before you do so, however, it's important to remember that in addition to adhering to the social distancing guidelines for when you're out in public, there are a handful of additional precautions you need to take before visiting family after the pandemic subsides.
Launder your clothes.
It goes without saying that you should wash your hands before seeing your family, but have you thought about washing the outfit you will wear on your visit? Nancy Swanger, PhD, founding director at Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living, says people should "practice great personal hygiene and put on freshly laundered clothing for the visit—don't wear the jacket you wore to the grocery store the day prior." Although experts don't believe coronavirus can survive long on clothing, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Take your temperature.
Before heading home, check in with yourself, and be honest about whether you are showing any signs that may be symptoms of the coronavirus. Additionally, you should have a thermometer on hand to check your temperature.
"Confirm you are 100 percent healthy before leaving your home—no allergy sniffles, no slight tickle in your throat, and, most importantly, no fever," says Swanger. To learn about the more obscure side effects of COVID-19, check out The 7 Strangest Coronavirus Symptoms You Need to Know About.
Check on your family's health.
Once you've done your part and evaluated your personal health, don't be afraid to ask your family to do the same. "Call ahead to ask family members, 'Is anyone feeling sick or ill?' 'Has anyone tested positive for flu or the COVID-19 virus recently (in the past 17 days or less)?'" suggests Enchanta Jenkins, MD. It would also be helpful to ask your family if they've been in contact with anyone who tested positive for coronavirus.
Buy disinfectant spray.
If you are bringing groceries or other items to your family, you must bring disinfectant spray with you. "We know that the virus can remain on surfaces for periods of time," says writer and medical researcher Tracey Evans. "With this in mind, people should be washing as many items as is possible." So, before handing over the groceries you brought to share with the family members you are visiting, give them a quick wipe down to help ensure you aren't spreading any harmful germs.
Avoid public transportation.
Even if you have been vigilantly adhering to social distancing, you still need to be diligent about avoiding close contact with others whenever possible during your travels to visit family.
"Avoid taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts because they involve sitting in enclosed, close quarters with people who share enclosed, close quarters with those most likely to have maximum exposure to other people," says Simone Collins, CEO of Travelmax. Instead, Collins suggests renting a car if you don't have your own. And if you do have your own car, make sure to properly sanitize the interior before and after you use it.
Consider who is at high risk.
Yes, you may be eager to see your family, but you should take a moment to weigh the pros and cons of your visit. "Very carefully consider who is at risk (elderly, pregnant, infant, at risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis, smoker, asthma, etc.) and how much exposure to crowds you might have to undergo to see them," says Collins. "The visit might not be worth the risk."
And if you are determined to see your family regardless of them being at high risk, you should consider completely quarantining yourself for a couple of weeks before visiting with them. And if you are more likely to develop serious coronavirus symptoms, check out 10 Mental Health Tips for People at High Risk for COVID-19.