8 Mistakes You're Still Making Every Time You Leave Your House

If you're going out in public, make sure you avoid these common errors to protect yourself from COVID-19.

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Many people have been in lockdown for months now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But most of us are still venturing out every so often, whether for a walk or a trip to the grocery store. And as some states start to lift lockdown orders, more and more people are headed outside their homes, which makes the risk of contracting COVID-19 more likely. That's why protecting yourself in public is essential. However, many people are still making dangerous mistakes out in public that put them in harm's way. These are the biggest ones you need to avoid when it comes to the coronavirus, according to medical professionals. And for more mistakes to watch out for, learn 7 Disinfecting Mistakes You're Probably Making and Tips to Fix Them.

1
You're taking your cell phone into the grocery store.

female wearing a mask going out shopping in supermarket
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Carol Winner, MSE, MPH, founder of Give Space, a company that advocates for health-related social distancing, says our phones are one of the most dangerous things in our lives right now. She notes that people in grocery stores are regularly texting or checking their phones to see if they missed something on their shopping lists.

"We take a risk in cross-contamination when we bring [our phones] home, as we touch the tuna can in the store, and then the phone, or the door on the milk case, and then our phone," she explains. "All it takes is a touch of not just the phone, but pretty much any surface in the house where we have set the phone. And most people are not in the habit of disinfecting our phones regularly, so the best practice is to leave your phone in the car for the time being to play it safe." And if you need to know how to disinfect your phone, discover How Experts Say You Should Clean Your Phone to Stop Coronavirus Spread.

2
You're wearing loose clothing.

A young girl in a coat, a scarf, a hat and a protective medical blue mask is stand near wooden wall the deserted narrow old street of the city. The concept of quarantine, coronavirus, pandemic COVID-19.
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You may not realize the type of clothing you wear outside could be a problem as well when it comes to COVID-19. William W. Li, MD, author of Eat To Beat Disease, says you should be wearing clothes that can easily be washed, as you need to disinfect any clothes you have worn out in public once you get back home to prevent spreading COVID-19. At the same time, you should be protecting yourself by avoiding "garments that can drag on the ground or blow in the wind against objects," he says. Long scarves or flowing sleeves come in contact with more surfaces, and can easily pick up droplets of the virus. And for advice on keeping your clothes clean, here are 7 Coronavirus Laundry Tips You Need to Start Following.

3
You're opening doors or pushing elevator buttons with your bare hands.

Businessman opening door entering office cabin
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Public door handles and elevator buttons are high-touch surfaces in high-traffic areas—that's why Janette Nesheiwat, MD, a family and emergency doctor, advises to never touch a door handle or elevator button with your bare hands. Instead, she recommends using your elbow.

If possible, she says, use automatic doors or stairways for the time being, and if you have to touch a door handle or button, wear gloves and immediately dispose of them. And for more mistakes to look out for, check out The 7 Worst Coronavirus Mistakes You're Still Making.

4
You're picking up things you've dropped on the ground without disinfecting them.

Close up of man hand lifting car keys fallen on the ground. Guy found vehicle keys someone lost on the asphalt road in the parking. Return property to owner.
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Whether it's your keys, a pen, or your favorite lipstick, it's human instinct to immediately reach down and pick up anything we've dropped on the ground. However, in the time of COVID-19, that's a big mistake, says Kevin Geick, a technician at Bio Recovery, a nationwide disease and biohazard cleanup company with over 20 years of experience.

"Don't touch anything that comes into contact with the ground without first thoroughly disinfecting the item," he says. "Infected respiratory droplets fall to the ground, therefore anything that touches the ground, whether that be dropping something or your shoe, can very well be contaminated." If you do have to pick up an item while outside, immediately apply hand sanitizer after putting it away and disinfect the item when you get home. And for more disinfecting tips, these are the 5 Disinfectants That Kill Coronavirus in 30 Seconds or Less.

5
You're touching your face while wearing gloves.

man on phone while wearing gloves and face mask
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Unless you know how to use gloves properly to protect against the coronavirus, they could actually be doing more harm than good, says Shikha Jain, MD, co-founder of the COVID-19 action and advocacy group IMPACT.

If you touch your face while wearing gloves, you're transmitting whatever is on your gloves to your face, she says, including the coronavirus. For instance, using the same gloves you've worn all day to remove your mask in the car or touching your phone to your ear while wearing potentially contaminated gloves "defeats the purpose of wearing gloves," according to Jain.

6
Or you're adjusting your face mask.

Couple Taking A Walk With Masks Because City Is Polluted
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Your face mask becomes ineffective if you're touching it while out in public. That's why Keane Veran, co-founder and CEO of OURA, a company that specializes in creating antimicrobial products, says you shouldn't be adjusting your face mask outside of your house.

"People need to understand that wearing the mask in public, it should be considered contaminated," Veran explains. "Just by breathing in, the exterior of the mask is contaminated and should not be touched at all. You may transfer viral particles onto your hands." And to make sure you're getting the most out of your mask, avoid these 7 Face Mask Care Mistakes You're Making.

7
You're letting your dog interact with other dogs.

Two women using social distancing in the community. Family Pets, and living in lockdown.
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Taking the dog out for a walk or to run around the park is a common way people are getting out of the house lately. However, just like you need to be social distancing from other people, your pet needs to be social distancing from other pets, as well. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinary consultant for DogLab, previously told Best Life that there is a "rare chance" a pet could be carrying the virus on their fur, which could pass to your dog's fur and then to you. And for more about your pets and the coronavirus, check out the 7 Coronavirus Pet Facts That Every Owner Needs to Know.

8
Your shopping trips are too long.

shopping at the time of corona virus
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According to Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician working with Invigor Medical, your risk of "exposure to COVID-19 depends on how many viral particles are in the air and how long you are exposed to them." So that means, as much as you want to get out of the house, how long you stay in a highly trafficked place could put you in danger.

"Quick trips in open-air places are less risky than prolonged trips in enclosed places," Poston says. "Browsing, trying on clothes, and eating in indoor restaurants are riskier than quick shopping trips and eating outdoors."

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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