What is "Universal Precautions"?
From my first day of nursing school back in 1990, we were drilled with the importance of Universal Precautions. Universal Precautions is the assumption that all exposure to others comes with risk of contracting and spreading some bacteria or virus. In the medical community we must consider our direct impact on patients and families.
When you see someone wearing a mask or gloves, you may assume one is 'over the top" with paranoia. Here are the rules to Universal Precautions so you and your family are best protected.
1) Nothing beats a germ killer better than 2 minute handwashing with soap. Don't forget under nails.
2) Hand sanitizer is a backup cleanser. It is mostly straight alcohol. The only way alcohol can truly kill germs or viruses is by frisk friction. A swipe of alcohol will not kill any live germ on your skin or nails. If all you have is hand sanitizer, use plenty with each use and rub hands together and wring hands well to cause the friction needed to be effective. Soap and water still have the greatest chance of killing any surface firus or bacteria.
3) Never use a bath towel or hand towel more than 2 times. Dirty towels should not to be used to dry hands. After showering using the same towel and leaving it to hang to dry, within 48 hours germs are beginning to thrive. Conserving water by using bath towels and hand towels for several uses or days can be more costly than running the washing machine and that cost is your health.
4) Your cell phone, TV remotes, door knobs, faucet handles, steering wheels, gear shift and car keys are basically petrie dishes to grow viruses and bacteria. Use a antibacterial wipes daily to clean your items.
5) Respiratory Precautions are indicated for any virus or bacteria that can be transmitted via air droplets. A simple cough can travel 20 feet and stay airborne as long as the cells within the microdroplets are wet. Corona Virus, Influenza and other airborne viruses are highly contagious. Look at the unimaginable contraction rate worldwide during this pandemic. Coughing into your hand will not stop the spread of the virus. If you have any cough or symptoms of upper respiratory infections, stay secluded. The virus can be subacute and undetectable without symptoms once contracted for 72 hours. Don't touch your face, wipe your nose or eyes with your bare hands because at this time, if you have been exposed you just introduced the virus to grow via mucous membranes.
6) Bodily fluids consist of the most concentrated form of infectious cells to spread the disease. If someone is ill with Corona Virus or Flu, simply coughing in your hand and touching your phone then touching the kitchen counter is the perfect recipe to spread the virus to everyone inside your home. Isolate the affected person in a room with everything needed to get better. If they can have a bathroom assigned to just the person suffering with the illness, it will reduce the chance of others in the home from contracting the illness. Provide a pain reliever, and expectorant, a thermometer, Kleenex, bottled water with electrolyte replacement.. My best advice to everyone is to keep your lungs dry. If you have a wet cough or congestion, use an expectorant to break it up and dry it up. Keeping your upper respiratory system dry will greatly reduce your chances of the serious respiratory compromise associated with the Corona Virus. Keep the bathroom disinfected wearing PPE (wear protection) to control the strength of the virus on objects.
Wear PPE to care for your loved one. Practice good handwashing and wear gloves. Provide a bagged trash can for used tissue and plateware. Serve food on disposable plates, cups, forks and spoons. Throw all infectious materials into the same trash can. Don't mix things up. Keep the virus contained in the isolation room until the risk of exposure has passed.
6) If you or someone you know has any comorbidity, heed the greatest care in personal protection equipment (PPE). A comorbidy means you have another condition which requires some kind of medical intervention. Mask and gloves are indicated in public for those with underlying health conditions. Compromised immune systems are at the greatest risk.
Examples of Compromised Immune Conditions:
Low white blood cell count
Autoimmune disorders of all kinds
Any respiratory illness, acute or chronic
Any diabetes, Type 1 or 2 (controlled and uncontrolled)
Chemo or radiation affecting current health
Chronic Kidney Failure (CKD), any stage
Elderly with any medical issues
Pediatric with any medical issues
Anyone on Immunosuppression therapy medications
Anyone with an open wound
Anyone with a recent surgical experience may be more susceptible to contracting some kind of viral or bacteria infection.
Anyone with a recent infection, although resolved now, may be more susceptible to contracting some kind of viral or bacteria infection.
The CDC has great resources and suggestions to help you manage your infection control and exposure. Here is a link to the worldwide Corona Virus tracker. Keep in mind, the numbers are actually higher as not all infections are tested and reported. https://www.bing.com/covid
The White House has created a flyer to print and share. Find it here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf
Universal Precautions may seem a bit too clinical to many. Universal Precautions with good handwashing is the number 1 way of prevention and spreading an infection. Practice effective infection control and you and your family can get through this pandemic healthy and happy.
Please take time and read the latest news and updates on self quarantine and infection prevention from the CDC here: