Many people have been taking preventive measures to reduce the exposure to coronavirus by wearing gloves or masks when going out for work or grocery shopping. However, many of us may not be aware of the fact that we may actually be contaminating the interior of the car without even realizing.
First of all, it is crucial to understand that one way the virus spreads is through droplets coming from a person infected with coronavirus. These droplets can land on objects and surfaces and once you touch those and touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, then you can become infected with the disease. In this blog, informative contents regarding how to reduce potential coronavirus spread in vehicles will be shared.
You may have heard “wash your hands” many times after the coronavirus outbreak. It was mentioned everywhere in the media as one of the major measures to stop the spread of the virus. In fact, this can reduce the spread of the virus in your vehicle as well, further reducing the risk. Washing your hands before and after you drive or ride in a vehicle will reduce the germs you bring into a vehicle, the spread inside a vehicle, and the risk of spreading the virus to other people or buildings. If the surfaces of the car are already dirty, washing your hands will not work as you will be touching those contaminated surfaces again. Therefore, it is crucial that you clean the surfaces and the interior of your vehicle, if you have not already.
The interiors of a vehicle are formed with different kinds of surfaces and materials that range from leather, metal, rubber, to plastic. This can be problematic because studies showed that the virus can stay in the air for up to three hours and for two to three days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces. Another study revealed that it can survive on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass, or plastic for up to nine days. The virus can spread while sharing airspace with an infected individual or through the surfaces the individual touched. Also, it can spread by sharing airspace even after the infected individual has already left.
First, start with common touchpoints of the vehicle. Besides the common places like a door handle, key fob or steering wheel, the most important part to keep clean is the dashboard. According to Charles P. Gerba, a professor of microbiology and public health at the University of Arizona, “That’s the worst site in terms of total number of bacteria”. Do not forget to clean the inside of door buttons, seat belts, gear shifters and touchscreens. The frequency of cleaning will vary by individual under different circumstances, however, CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting daily. When you go to fill up your gas, make sure to clean gas pump handles and keypads at gas stations for your safety before you touch them.
If you are concerned about harsh disinfectants drying out the leather, an alternative choice is to use a milder solution of soap and water and occasionally combine it with a leather conditioner. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that soap will not kill the germs completely but will reduce the numbers which can decrease the risk of spreading.
Are car rentals, ride-sharing, taxis, and public transportation safe?
Although there is no yes or no answer to this, it is suggested that anything that comes into contact with a lot of people where an infected person could have touched any of the touchpoints should be avoided. Car rental services as well as ride sharing companies have taken precautions to clean the vehicles with disinfectant. Riders as well as drivers were notified not to ride or drive if they are feeling sick. If you cannot refrain from using these services, try to avoid touching surfaces and touching your face. Gerba said that drivers and passengers should all carry hand sanitizer for frequent use as well as portable disinfectant wipes.
Same measures apply to public transportation; riders using buses and trains should wash their hands and implement social distancing as much as possible. It was noted that many transportation agencies encouraged riders to keep at least 3-6 feet distance from one another. It is recommended that you wipe down areas that you will immediately contact, whether it be rails, grab handles, and seats, and most importantly, do not touch your face.
For information on products you can use to disinfect, Center for Biocide Chemistries lists out the ones that are pre-approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Be sure to read the labels before you use new products you are not familiar with.
We hope that this information helps you and your family in staying safe and healthy. Please take extra precautions when leaving the house and extra attention to personal hygiene.
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