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Staying Safe and Healthy With Your Roommate

By Roommates.com, on 04/20/2020

Unless you’ve been competing on Big Brother or you’ve been living under a rock, the chances are virtually nonexistent that you haven’t heard of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Also known as COVID-19, this virus and outbreak originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and rapidly spread around the world. With nearly 400,000 confirmed cases as of late March and over 15,000 deaths in more than 190 countries, this global pandemic has had many effects on life as we know it. With governmental and health organizations advising us to practice social distancing and self-isolation to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to make sure you do as much as you can to stay safe, especially if you’re living with roommates! Below are some general tips to follow to ensure you’re staying healthy and safe in the weeks to come!

 

Make sure everyone’s on the same page

 

In the last several weeks, the amount of news and updates on social media and news outlets has figuratively exploded, and with it has come the proliferation of fake news. From fake news on treatments that will cure coronavirus to announcements about Daniel Radcliffe testing positive for COVID-19, it can be hard to know what’s real during times like these. When seeing how the situation is developing, especially in your local area, always double-check the source or use fact-checking websites like AP Fact Check. Other sources you can rely on include the World Health Organization, the CDC, and your local governmental body. By using sources like these, you and and your roommates can make the best decisions based on trustworthy and reputable sources. 

 

Surviving self-isolation and social distancing 

 

Virtually all governmental bodies, health organizations, and other sources of authority have recommended self-isolation and social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus. If you or your roommate have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 (you can check the current lists of symptoms on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site), you will need to go into self-isolation. If you start exhibit symptoms, you’ll have to self-isolate for 7 days. If your roommate has symptoms, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning from when their symptoms started. 

 

If you’re not already working from home, try to get an isolation note from your doctor if possible to give to your employer. However, with more and more states enforcing stay-at-home orders, this may not even be necessary, as you may already be required to work from home. In general, you’ll need to go out as little as possible and avoid contact with other people in order to avoid infecting others.

 

Social distancing is necessary to further reduce the exponential growth of COVID-19, which means cancelling those Tinder dates, avoiding the gym, and generally limiting close physical social contact for the near future. Sure, it sucks to put our social life on hold for now, but it’s absolutely necessary to help ensure that we can go back to our normal lives ASAP, all while not overwhelming the healthcare system with everyone getting sick all at once. 

 

Curious how you and your roomies can best stay safe (and sane!) during self-isolation or while practicing social distancing? Here are some tips and advice to make it a little bit easier and safer! 

 

  • Since you’ll need to avoid close contact with everyone else if you or your roomie has COVID-19, try to get your friends, family, employer, or a delivery service to bring you food and supplies you’ll need while you’re indoors. Make sure you avoid using public transit or taxis!

  • If you’re not feeling too rough, make sure to stay physically active and get some exercise. There are hundreds of YouTube videos and online courses or classes providing easy exercises you can do at home. You can go outside, as long as you stay away from other people. Take a walk or go for a run to help avoid getting bored! 

  • Keep in contact with friends and family. While not in person, you can still chat on the phone or over the internet with anyone who’s not in isolation with you. 

  • Minimize close contact in shared spaces (such as the kitchen or living room) with your roommates as much as possible. Don’t share food, bedsheets, or other personal items! (More info on cleaning tips below.)

  • While having friends over sounds like a great idea, it’s not worth the risk. Recently, the Houseparty app has gained a lot of traction, so consider virtually inviting your friends over to hangout and play games!

  • Pick up a hobby—or focus on one you haven’t had much time for recently. Whether it’s finishing that book you’ve tossed aside, binging on a true crime podcast or Netflix show, or learning the choreography to your favorite hip-hop song, now’s the time to do all those things you never had! Still need some more inspiration? Try deleting and organizing the thousands of pics you have on your phone, practice becoming Food Network’s next Masterchef, or take an online course from sites like Coursera or Eazl. The possibilities are endless!

 

Whether you’re self-isolating because your roomie has symptoms or you’re practicing social distancing to keep your loved ones and community safe, make the best of all this extra free time you have now, all while staying safe!

 

Keeping clean

 

While we hope that you always try your best to practice great hygiene, it’s more important than ever during the coronavirus outbreak. Here are some general tips to implement ASAP to help keep your roommates safe during this time! As a rule of thumb, follow these tips even if you our your roomies aren’t exhibiting any signs of COVID-19, as these will help to minimize your chances of contracting the virus and spreading it on.

 

  • Wash your hands! As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to wash your hands often. Whether you live somewhere hot and humid or extremely cold (because contrary to myths going around on the internet, COVID-19 can be transmitted virtually anywhere), washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and then dry them thoroughly (ideally with paper towels or an air dryer).  By doing this, you’ll get rid of viruses that could be on your hands, which you could spread to yourself or others. 

  • Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have soap or water (such as if you’re on the go.) In situations where there’s no water available, the CDC recommends you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. However, it should contain at least 60% alcohol—which means you should avoid most “baby-friendly” hand sanitizers or alcohol-free hand sanitizers. Please make sure that you only use hand sanitizer when in extreme situations and if there’s no way to wash your hands with water and soap.

  • Regularly clean your surfaces. While you should be doing this already, it’s time to swap out that old dishrag you use and get some household bleach, which can effectively kill the coronavirus (which can live for over 2 weeks on surfaces!). To keep the common areas you and your roomie use as germ-free as possible (such as the toilet seat, faucet handles, tables, or door handles), wipe them down with bleach, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or warm soapy water. Ideally, avoid using Lysol wipes as they need to stay on dirty surfaces for longer to be effective. Make a habit of wiping surfaces on a daily basis, and for high-traffic areas, after every use. If possible, use gloves when cleaning, as recommended by the CDC. Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to regularly wipe your phone down when you get back home!

  • Wash your laundry with hot water. When handling your clothes, make sure to wash your hands afterwards, as the virus could be on your clothes. (Alternatively, you can wear gloves while doing the laundry.) If possible, use hot water when doing your laundry to kill as many germs and viruses as possible. Don’t forget to wipe down any surfaces your dirty laundry may have come in contact with! 

  • Avoid using the same items as your roommates. Wash your cutlery when you’re done using it, or pop it in the dishwasher, and don’t share the same utensils without having washed them to avoid cross-contamination. This is important whether or not you’re exhibiting symptoms, as you could be a carrier without showing any immediate signs of having COVID-19. 

 

Keep calm!

 

These are understandably stressful and unpredictable times, with rapidly changing news and information coming in at all hours of the day. At roommates.com, we want you and your roomies to stay safe, above everything else! But while it’s important to stay clean and do your best to slow the spread of the coronavirus, your mental health is also just as important! Make sure you schedule downtime from all the news, have some me-time, and maybe meditate or do some yoga. Find activities or exercises that help you calm down and relax—while making sure you don’t put others at risk, of course! After all, the world will still be there when you plug back in. 

 

But for now, stay safe, and stay healthy!