How to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19:
- If possible, stay home.
- Avoid close contact with other people in your apartment building, at work, or on public transit.
- Regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice or the “ABC Song” once.)
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (it must have at least 60% alcohol in it) if no access to soap and water.
- Sneeze and cough into your sleeve.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and fatigue.
- Symptoms show up between 2 and 14 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus.
- People who are considered at increased risk include those with underlying health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease such as asthma/COPD, diabetes, or HIV, or people who are immunocompromised, or over age 60.
- Can result in more serious conditions like pneumonia, kidney failure, or, in some rare cases, death.
- Most people who get COVID-19 will recover on their own.
If you suspect you might have COVID-19:
- Complete a self-assessment at www.ontario.ca/coronavirus or by calling your doctor or the Hamilton Public Health Services COVID-19 Hotline at 905-974-9848.
- If a referral is provided, you will be booked to visit an Assessment Centre (West End Clinic: 690 Main St W, East End Clinic: 2757 King St E).
- OHIP coverage is not required to be seen at an assessment centre and the test is provided at no cost to the individual.
- Isolate yourself at home, drink fluids, get rest, try a humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough.
For up-to-date information from government health agencies:
Proper hand washing technique
As per World Health Organization: Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. (Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice or the “ABC Song” once.)
YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IisgnbMfKvI
Proper technique for wearing a mask
Putting on your mask:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before touching the mask.
- Choose a mask that fits your face (not too large).
- Make sure there are no obvious tears or holes.
- Determine which side of the mask is the top. The side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mold to the shape of your nose.
- Determine which side of the mask is the front. The colored side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face.
- Hold the mask by the ear loops. Place a loop around each ear.
- Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
- Mold or pinch the stiff edge to the shape of your nose. Make sure there are no gaps between the mask and your face.
Positive pressure checking: Cover the mask lightly with both hands. Breathe with deliberation. Air should not leak out from the sides of the mask.
Negative pressure checking: Cover the mask lightly with both hands. Suck in air with deliberation. The mask should depress slightly inward.
- Note: Masks don’t seal well if you have facial hair. If you can shave, it’s recommended to ensure a tighter seal.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it. If you do, clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
Removing your mask:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
- Avoid touching the front of the mask. The front of the mask is contaminated. Only touch the ear loops/ties/band.
- Hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask.
- Throw the mask in the garbage or, if using a reusable cloth mask, wash/dry on high heat.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
Youtube video (Wearing a mask dos and don’ts): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OABvzu9e-hw
Making your own hand sanitizer
Make sure the tools you use for mixing are properly sanitized, otherwise you could contaminate your recipe. Also, the World Health Organization recommends letting your concoction sit for a minimum of 72 hours after you’re done. That way the sanitizer has time to kill any bacteria that might have been introduced during the mixing process.
- Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99% alcohol)
- Aloe vera gel (to counteract the harshness of the alcohol and to keep your skin smooth)
- An essential oil (tea tree oil, lavender, clove, eucalyptus, peppermint, etc.) or you can use lemon juice instead
- ¾ cup isopropyl or rubbing alcohol
- ¼ cup aloe vera
- 10 drops of essential oil
You can make as large a batch as you like, but as a general rule include 3 parts alcohol to 1 part aloe vera.
- Pour all ingredients into a bowl, ideally a bowl with a spout.
- Beat with a fork or whisk to turn the liquid into a gel.
- Pour the gel into a bottle for easy use.
- Ideally, let sit for 72 hours before use.
Tips to avoid contaminating your mixture:
- Make the hand sanitizer in a clean space. Wipe down counter tops with a diluted bleach solution beforehand.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before making the hand sanitizer.
- To mix, use a clean spoon and whisk. Wash these items thoroughly before using them.
- Make sure the alcohol used for the hand sanitizer is not diluted.
- Mix all the ingredients thoroughly until they are well blended.
Do not touch the mixture with your hands until it is ready for use.
Making your own disinfectant wipes
- 2 cups of warm water
- 1 cup isopropyl or rubbing alcohol of at least 70% alcohol concentration
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
- Half a roll of paper towel
- Pour ingredients into Tupperware container and mix well
- Place stack of paper towels in container to soak
- Once soaked, divide stacks of paper towers into ‘to go’ packets in Ziploc bags
Tips to avoid contaminating your wipes when making the recipe:
- Make the wipes in a clean space. Wipe down counter tops with a diluted bleach solution beforehand.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before making the recipe.
- Wash Tupperware container and mixing spoon thoroughly before using them.
- Make sure the alcohol used for the wipes is not diluted.
- Mix all the ingredients thoroughly until they are well blended.
Making your own mask
Supplies and Tools:
- Cotton Fabric – at least 12”X9”
- Lightweight Fusible Interfacing 12” X9”
- 1/4” Elastic
- Basic sewing supplies
- Pattern (download here: https://www.joann.com/on/demandware.static/-/Sites-joann-project-catalog/default/dw69195391/images/hi-res/project/pdf/042188731P321.pdf)
- Download and print the pattern.
- Cut 1 pattern piece, on the fold, out of the cotton fabric and lightweight interfacing
- Apply fusible interfacing to wrong side of cotton fabric using an iron.
- Fold fabric right sides together, matching 9-inch sides.
- Sew along the 9 inch side, using 1/4” seam allowance and leaving a space 3” wide in the center to turn mask right side out.
- Cut 2 pieces of elastic 7 inches long. Insert into the corners of the two open ends of the mask and pin into place. Sew across sides, backstitching well over the elastic, to secure the elastic in place.
- Turn mask right side out and press seams flat.
- Using pattern as a guide, fold up 3 pleats on each side, making sure the pleats are folded in the same direction. Pin into place.
- Top stitch around the entire mask, securing the pleats and closing the opening.
Other sewing patterns you might find helpful:
- Pattern by Dutch designer Joost De Cock (his wife is a surgeon) posted on Free Sewing Open Source Project: https://freesewing.org/docs/patterns/fu/instructions/
- Pattern by artist Jen Murphy and medical professional Sabra Stein posted on Instructables.com: https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Cloth-Face-Mask/
Essential Workers - Working through COVID-19
You Still Have Rights
Employers are still expected to follow Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines. This means demanding the Personal Protective Equipment you need in order to do your job effectively and safely for as long as possible. Getting sick is not part of your job.
Depending on your job, your strategies for keeping yourself, your co-workers, and your family safe are going to look different. It will also look different if you work in a unionized workplace.
Here are some general tips for flattening the curve, even when you have to go to work:
Modify how you get to work if possible.
If you take the bus, but you are able to walk, do so. If you can take a cab instead of the bus, you should do this.
If you have to take the bus, be sure to sanitize your hands before you board, do your best not to touch too many surfaces on the bus, sit as far away from other riders as possible, and make sure you sanitize your hands as soon as you get off of the bus. Respect your bus driver by maintaining distance and boarding from the back door.
When returning home
Sanitize your hands before entering your home, wash your hands immediately when you get inside, do not stop to kiss or greet family members, roommates, or pets, change your clothes, and place worn clothes in a separate bin for washing.
If you are able to self isolate at work, do so.
If you work in an office environment and you are able to reduce the amount of people you interact with, you should definitely do that. Avoid in person meetings, do not schedule interviews, and correspond with your co-workers with phones and email. Try to arrange to work from home.
Disinfect, Sanitize, and Wash Hands Often
Disinfect your work station upon arrival and before leaving. Do so frequently throughout your shift. Wash or sanitize your hands every 15 minutes if possible.
Solidarity with Co-workers
Stand in solidarity with your co-workers who are raising concerns about safety. Rally around co-workers who have underlying health concerns that might make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications.
When possible, pressure your employer to do the right thing.
Demand Personal Protective Equipment and work with your co-workers to voice your concerns and make demands. Research what other workers are doing in your sector to pressure their bosses to keep their employees safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.