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Keeping Small Holiday Gatherings Safe

As the holidays approach we’ve seen not one but two vaccines be approved by the FDA in an attempt to curb the spread of the pandemic that has ravaged the globe for almost a year. Pfizer and Moderna both have now been approved to be distributed to the general public. While it’s a good start, people are wondering when they can get either of the vaccines. High-risk workers in healthcare facilities and first responders will be in the first phase, but most families won’t get the opportunity to be vaccinated before the holidays. If you are having family come to your house, it’s important that proper sanitization techniques and CDC recommendations are used and followed to keep small holiday gatherings safe.

We all have a family member that we know and love who can get a little stressed with hosting, and that was before a global pandemic. The popularity of holiday cleaning checklists over the last few years has helped hosts. This year will be no different except for one detail- disinfection. In the past, it was easier to clean your house without having to worry about if high touch surfaces had been cleaned prior to and after guests’ arrival and departure. This cleaning checklist item will be key to keeping friends and family members safe.

The CDC has been extolling the virtues of the two-step method of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home since the beginning of the pandemic. They recommend not only cleaning surfaces with soap and water but also disinfecting them after to ensure surfaces are properly cleaned. There are a few disinfecting products proven to kill the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label directions. Some of the products are popular and easier to find, from companies such as Clorox, Lysol, Oxiclean, and more. The CDC has even created a tool that allows you to search for products you already have to see if they’re EPA compliant for killing COVID. Tulu has also written about the standards of sanitizing if you need more resources.

Once your home has been properly disinfected, it’s important to ensure that it stays that way. While it may seem odd to do in your home, having hand sanitizer in a visible place was proven to increase usage in hospitals long before the days of COVID-19. According to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, “accessibility of the sanitizer on entrance to the patient room (P = .00055) were statistically associated with higher observed compliance rates.” In layman’s terms, having hand sanitizer in a visible place made people use it more. Think about placing it by the door so as guests enter they can sanitize before continuing through your home. Maybe place other sanitizing stations on counters, or anywhere else guests can easily see and use them.

The WHO has laid out tips for hosting or attending small gatherings that include trying to keep gatherings outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces, staggering guest arrival and departure times, and providing ample supplies such as hand soap and masks. If you can’t gather with friends and loved ones, a virtual celebration can be just as much fun and much safer. No matter how you choose to celebrate, ensuring your home is disinfected and guests follow CDC and WHO recommendations can keep everyone healthy. Happy holidays!