With food being the most crucial and basic necessity of life, going grocery shopping is inevitable for most of us. However, with the coronavirus pandemic having taken over our lives, stepping out and risking our lives during the lockdown to buy groceries doesn’t seem like the best idea.
While the Food and Drug Administration has suggested that there is no scientific evidence of coronavirus being transmitted by food items, it is important to stay safe and take the necessary precautions required for your peace of mind and also keep taking the coronavirus self-assessment scan to rest assured. Because while the virus may not be present on the food items, it could be present on the packaging. So what is the solution–should we wear gloves while shopping? What method of payment should we go for? These are just a few of the many questions that revolve around the shopper’s mind. To clear your doubts, we have made an elaborate list of all the tips you must follow while shopping for groceries amid the global healthcare crisis.
Tips to Follow While Going for Grocery Shopping During Pandemic
Precautions When You Are At The Store
Let’s start with the things you must keep in mind when you step out.
Maintain a six-feet distance from others
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US agency that studies health trends has advised all the shoppers to stay at six feet away from everyone else at the store including the store employees. Not just this, make sure to wear a face mask and avoid touching your face while you are in the market. You can try going to the store at a time when it is least crowded to avoid as much human interaction as possible.
If you are contemplating wearing gloves, then remember to take them off once you’re home–since the virus sticks to your gloves just like it does to your hands. Wear gloves only if you intend on discarding them in a way that they do not come in contact with anyone.
Touch as few surfaces as possible
Make sure you do not touch various surfaces while at the store. These could be the counter slabs, the product slabs, fridge handles and more. It is advisable to not touch any of these surfaces to avoid transmission of the fatal virus as it can survive on surfaces for a duration anywhere between three hours to three days, depending on the material of the surface.
Carry sanitizing wipes
It would be a wise idea to carry sanitizing wipes along when you step out for grocery shopping. Why? Because you can clean any shopping cart, bag or basket that you use to collect items. Like I explained above, gloves wouldn’t be of much help because they get contaminated the moment they come in contact with a surface that has the virus on it.
Use digital means for payment
Avoid exchanging currency notes as much as possible. Check with the store manager whether they have a PayTm barcode since scanning through it and making the payment is the most contact-free method that you can opt for, given the current circumstances. However, if there is no alternative and you have to exchange notes, make sure you use a hand sanitizer to clean your hands as well as disinfect the notes with a spray as soon as you reach home.
Precautions Once You Get Back Home
If you’re under the assumption that precautions are only to be taken when you are outdoors buying the essentials, you’re wrong. There are certain precautions that you need to take when you reach home as well.
Disinfecting all packets
This is an extremely important step. As soon as you reach home, remember to disinfect all the packets that you’ve bought. It could be a packet of bread, milk and so on. The best way to do so is by using a sanitizing wipe or by dabbing some sanitizer (make sure it has over 60% alcohol) onto a clean cloth and wiping all the items.
What kind of packaging should you sanitize? According to CDC, food packaging that needs attention is bottles and jars or the one made of glass, metal and plastic.
A quick method to make your own disinfect is: mix 1/3 cup of bleach in approximately 3.5 litres of water.
Wash your hands & kitchen surfaces
All the doctors in the world have been saying this for quite a while now–keep washing your hands. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get back home and use a hand-sanitizer only if water and soap aren’t available. Also, wash your hands again in a similar manner once you’ve unpacked your groceries. Remember to wash and wipe all kitchen surfaces too, including switches, drawers, handles, shelves, and countertops.
Wash the clothes you stepped out in
It is very important to not just change the clothes that you went out to shop in but to also wash and dry them in the sun. Why? There is a possibility that your clothing came in contact with a contaminated surface and therefore, should be washed thoroughly and dried under direct sunlight to kill the COVID-19 virus if at all there is any.
While keeping these tips in mind should be enough, we all must also make use of our common sense and be smart about how to go about shopping and minimise the risk of any contraction. Few other things to keep in mind are:
- People aged 60 and above must avoid stepping out, even if it is for buying groceries
- Minimise your trips to the stores but that doesn’t mean you hoard groceries at home
- Follow best practices while cooking such as washing vegetables thoroughly and cooking foods at the required proper temperature
Let us act responsibly and wisely. Coronavirus has spread to more than 180 countries all over the globe. Stay safe, and step out only if required.