The world is presently faced with a Coronavirus pandemic. The general rule of thumb is to wash your hands and practice social distancing. Furthermore, the public has also been asked to remain home as a means of minimizing the spread of the virus. However, not everyone can stay home.
If you must drive during this time, here are some tips on how to keep yourself safe and to reduce the transmission of covid-19.
Keeping Your Vehicle Fit
When travelling, it is safer and less risky to take your car than to utilize public transportation such as buses, trains, and planes. While it appears, at the present time, that particles do not remain in the air like flu particles, the close contact – an attribute of the spread – with other passengers associated with using these services could increase your risk.
If possible, using your car is one of the safer modes of transportation. It serves as a form of isolation – if cleaned properly – and you control when and where you go. Therefore, to make sure you stay safe during your journey and are prepared in the case of an emergency, make sure that your car is functioning properly. Some key elements include:
- Do not delay oil and filter changes.
- Make sure all operating fluids are adequate in supply.
- Proof your tires to make sure they are filled appropriately and fitted safely.
- Ensure that vital components – especially brakes – are functioning properly.
If you go to a workshop or service center to service your vehicle, make sure to practice proper distancing of at least 1 meter (or 3 feet) and try to use credit or debit – if possible – to minimize the transmission through cash handling. Wash / disinfect your hands after any interactions and wipe down surfaces on and in your vehicle accordingly.
Disinfection of the Interior
While driving in a vehicle may give a sense of isolation and mobility, preventative hygiene measures are still important. This means disinfecting surfaces before and after use. Such things that should be considered for disinfection include:
- Steering Wheel
- Gear Switch
- Door Handles
- Hand Brake
- Radio / Infotainment Controls
- Turn Signal Stalk
- Windshield Wiper Stalk
The best solution for disinfecting these interior components is the use of isopropyl alcohol and micro-fiber cloths. According to the Consumer Reports organization, solutions already found in your home can help in disinfecting your vehicle. A solution with at least 70% alcohol is effective against the virus and isopropyl alcohol won’t harm the main surfaces in your car. You can use alcohol to wipe down seats, upholstery, and other soft surfaces – just pay attention not to let it soak through. Excessive cleaning can lead to the discoloration of material. Hydrogen peroxide and ammonium can cause damage and therefore should be avoided in the disinfecting process.
Cleaning Up the Exterior
While disinfecting the inside of the vehicle is important, so is the disinfection of the exterior – especially if you are a ride-share driver or taxi driver. With the same underlying principles of disinfecting your interior, pay attention to surfaces you touch and wipe them down thoroughly before and after use. Some examples include:
- Door Handles
- Door Frame
- Trunk Compartment Handle
Wiping down these surfaces can help prevent the virus from getting into the interior.
Additionally, if you wash your vehicle, avoid using dish soap. While it not only has the potential to harm the clear coat of your car, it also does not stand up to the job of cleaning your car against the virus. Use car wash soap instead when washing.
Proper Circulation is Key
After cleaning your car, you should properly circulate air throughout. Make sure that your air-conditioning unit is clean and functioning properly – including checking filters – as negligence in doing so can poorly affect your health. You can pick up cleaners designed to clean out your air-conditioning and ventilation system online, from retailers and workshops, or at your local gas station.
Even though these sprays do not eradicate covid-19, they do aid in reducing the risk of the virus attaching itself to the system.
Travel Solo, Travel Smart
The main objective in stopping the spread of the virus is to minimize contact with others. If you must travel, travel alone.
However, if having passengers is unavoidable, take the right steps to protect yourself. According to Jana Parmová, chief physician at ŠKODA, you need to “make sure that the person does not have acute symptoms of respiratory illness.” Furthermore, make note of the contact information for all passengers. In case you get sick, you can better inform all people with whom you’ve encountered.
Regardless of if the journey is undertaken with others or solo, most drivers and passengers will not require a facial barrier while driving. However, for those who are at higher risk, symptomatic, or generally desire an added sense of security, there are some methods of covering your face that may be helpful.
You can use either a respirator – a personal protective device that is worn on the face or head and covers at least the mouth and nose – or wear a facemask. A respirator of FFP3 class provides the most genuine protection. N95 FFR is also a type of respirator designed to filter out at least 95% of incredibly small (0.3 micron) particles and can filter out particles such as bacteria and viruses and is often used in medical settings.
Regarding facemasks, they cannot protect the wearer against the Coronavirus. They are typically loose-fitting and only serve as a barrier for droplets. However, the use of facemasks can still be beneficial. Facemasks prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes, therefore reducing risk of infection. Additionally, depending on medical history, not everyone can use a respirator as it may adversely affect breathing.