Family holidays are an essential part of human life. Every family has traditions – from couples just building their family to the most sprawling of extended families. The most important traditions are celebrations, rejoicing in holidays and shared happy moments with the ones we love most. Every family gathers to celebrate. As the world changes, so too do our celebration traditions – for fun or by necessity.
In early 2020, we were all ready to hunker down and let the pandemic blow over. A few days, maybe a whole month of global quarantine and we figured this thing would be kicked. But we’re long past the extra-innings now and the new normal is starting to happen for real. We now live in a post-COVID reality where virus safety has become a necessary part of the modern human lifestyle.
Let’s face it: We’re going to gather with loved ones and celebrate holidays. The only question is how to make this process as safe as possible while still having a good time. The good news is that we’re ready. We have the cleaning supplies, technology, and knowledge to build a fun, safe holiday plan for every celebration on this year’s calendar. We’ve thought about this long and hard, and are here to share the benefits of our own research on how to celebrate your family holidays safely this year.
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Visiting Safety Post-COVID
Is it safe for relatives to visit you, or for you to visit relatives for the holidays? If you do so carefully the answer is absolutely yes. As long as everyone who plans to gather takes the right precautions for 2 weeks before the holiday.
Isolate for 14 Days
The safest answer is the 14-day rule. COVID, like many flu-type viruses, has a contagion and symptom cycle. If someone is not exposed to any infection risk (quarantine or strict PPE use) for 14 days and shows no symptoms, they are as safe as at-home methods can be certain of. This means that if a family wants to gather, the smartest choice is for all involved to pre-isolate (again; with quarantine or strict PPE use) for 14 days before travel.
Strict Use of PPE
- Wear a Mask
- At all times when outside the house
- Eat Alone or At Home
- Don’t risk taking off the mask to eat with friends
- Wear Gloves and/or Sanitize Often
- Minimize risk of picking up or transferring surface-based COVID
Anyone who has not isolated for 14 days – who has had unprotected contact with non-household-members – is a potential infection vector. But careful use of PPE outside the house can minimize this risk so it can still be safe to gather for holidays.
COVID Holiday Shopping Safety
Shopping for the holidays can be risky business when trying to avoid the microbiological presence of others. Mobbing box stores and outlet malls is no longer the best way to get all your gifts, decor, and holiday supplies. It’s time to rethink your holiday shopping strategy for post-COVID safety.
Shop Online – Get Clever with Delivery
The best way to get your gifts and holiday supplies safely is to shop online. There are over a dozen leading multi-purpose marketplaces and thousands of businesses with their own individual e-commerce platforms to choose from. As more and more brands adapt to the new-normal, companies that did not previously have online ordering options do. Even your local stores now have in-store shoppers and local or curbside delivery to minimize viral contact.
So this year, become an expert at online shopping if you aren’t already in order to supply your holiday needs.
Shop in Full PPE
If you must go into a store where other people will be breathing, go prepared. PPE stands for Personal Protection Equipment – so gear up. Wear a closely fitted facemask that is clean and fully dry when you enter the store. Slip on a pair of nitrile gloves in the car and drop them in a car trash bag – turned inside-out from the wrist- as soon as you get back into the car. Wear long sleeves or avoid touching anything with your bare arms.
When you get home, shower immediately and wash your clothes on hot without allowing them to linger in the hamper.
Sanitize Packages on Arrival
Whether a package makes it to your home by delivery or careful in-store purchase – do not assume the items themselves are COVID-free until proven otherwise. We strongly suggest using isopropyl, sanitizing cleaner, or disinfecting wipes to clean every item that comes into your home. Wipe down or carefully discard the outermost packaging. Then thoroughly spray down and clean each plastic-wrapped product so that no chance-left particles can put your family or your holiday gift recipients at risk.
For gifts, wipe down the item inside its packaging and then wrap the gift. Keep your wrapped gifts in a closed space or suitcase for travel as soon as they are wrapped to prevent unnecessary exposure.
Wash your hands up to the elbows and change shirts when you are finished sanitizing outside products.
Children’s Safety and Family Holidays
Children need extra help during post-COVID holidays. They will need to understand any existing risks and how to protect themselves in case play-time and family-time are also sometimes virus-safe time.
Holiday Masks for Kids
First and foremost – make sure your kids have masks they are comfortable wearing. Getting kids to wear their PPE is essential. Practice wearing masks before any holiday visitors or holiday travel. Get the whole family involved, and hand out prizes for anyone who can keep a mask on without touching it for longer-and-longer durations of time.
The two parenting tricks for getting your kids to put on and wear the masks are:
- Comfy-soft masks that don’t itch or rub
- Fun and cute masks that your kids will want to show off.
Define Your Holiday “Immunity Bubble”
Coronavirus has introduced the need to understand epidemiology basics – the basics of virus spread and containment. The most important thing for kids to understand is the ‘immunity bubble’. People inside their family household all share the same ‘bubble’. Masks and gloves and hand-washing keep that bubble un-popped. But if someone doesn’t wear a mask outside, doesn’t wash their hands, or brings an unmasked friend home – that bubble is popped and someone could get sick.
Wash After Every Play Session
In addition to wearing a mask, make sure your kids know to thoroughly wash their hands every time they come inside from play, especially if playing with cousins or neighbors who might not share the same household immunity bubble.
Home Safety when Hosting Post-COVID Holidays
If you are hosting a holiday this year, your home needs to be especially safe for visiting and potentially at-risk relatives. If you are traveling to see family, you can prepare your home to be COVID-safe and ready for your return.
Clean the House from Top to Bottom
COVID particles can last up to 4 hours in the air, up to 6 hours on soft surfaces, and up to 4 days on smooth surfaces. It can lurk anywhere breath particles land – which is everywhere. So if you are hosting, be sure to sanitize your home from top-to-bottom with strong cleaning solution and attention to detail.
Sanitizing and Lotion Stations
Keeping hands and surfaces clean is the biggest ongoing challenge for a post-COVID holiday. Everyone will want to be hand-sanitizing throughout the day, so set out sanitizing pumps on tables throughout the house. Want to make it a truly happy holiday? Place a pump bottle of lotion next to each sanitizing pump to combat cracked skin from constant washing.
Gift Wipedown Part Two
When gifts are opened, keep a pack of sanitizing wipes handy. Just because you carefully wiped down each gift before wrapping doesn’t mean that everyone did. Take a quick and casual precaution by wiping each item and hands as gifts are unwrapped.
1-Week Safety Rule
For families planning to travel this holiday, there’s good news on the COVID-safety front. After 6 whole days of a building being people-free no COVID will remain. Most coronavirus particles die within a few days of leaving the body, so your home will be fully safe from any lingering virus particles if you are gone for a week or more.
Vehicle Safety for Holiday Travel
Last but not least, let’s make sure your vehicle is safe and you are ready for safe travel before heading out to the grandparents’. Travel right now is especially challenging due to the need to keep immune-isolated from gas stations and hotels along the way.
Full Vehicle Checkup and Cleaning
Make sure your vehicle is safe and ready to go. Road trips are even more ‘solo’ now that all public places are marked as infection risks. Your family will want to stop less often for fun or utility – so get your car inspected and cleaned internally before the big trip so you can drive with greater confidence on the open road.
Windows Up, Masks Down – Windows Down, Masks Up
In the middle of nowhere, you are most likely COVID-safe. But in town – have a very strict window-to-mask policy. If the windows are down, everyone pulls their masks up for safety. Fortunately, when the windows are up, your car becomes an immunity-bubble and the family can relax ith masks down.
Gas Station Safety Protocols
Gas station stops are the leading risk of infection when traveling for the holidays. Make sure as few people leave the car as possible – choosing one family ambassador to pump gas, get snacks, and so on to limit exposure. Anyone who leaves the car should have their mask up and put on a fresh pair of disposable gloves -to be removed inside-out from the wrist as each person gets back in the car.
Wipe down snacks before opening the packages, as well. The best approach is to assume every surface is contaminated so that you never miss a real contamination point.
Celebrating Your Holidays Safely
Living in a Post-COVID world doesn’t mean that family gatherings are outdated. On the contrary! Families all over the world are figuring out ways to celebrate together. The safety precautions you implement today will become next year’s traditions. Soon, we’ll either kick this pandemic or we’ll all be so adapted that 14 days of pre-holiday isolation and dropping our travel-gloves at the front door of grandma’s house will be as familiar as shaking the snow off our boots and stuffing stockings.