Pandemic, Covid-19 and Coronavirus are front of mind for us all currently. People are endeavouring to stay virus free, maintain social distancing, go out only to shop etc. Inside our homes we are trying to ensure surfaces are clean and sanitised. But when we do venture out how do we ensure our vehicles are sanitised?
So what are we sanitising against?
We know that closeness to someone coughing or sneezing and not being within a minimum of six feet of another person is recommended. The consensus is that air borne droplets are the main Coronavirus transmission method. These droplets are then ingested via the nose, eyes and mouth. So, as these droplets land on a surface and are touched by another person the virus may be transferred via them touching their mouth, nose, eyes as well as proximity to a person sneezing or coughing
Unless you have been living on Mars we all now know that the best forms of prevention are washing your hands regularly (up to 20 seconds with a good lathered soap) and social distancing from others. To prevent any Covid-19 transmission we should also wash our hands before and after travelling in a car or other vehicle. The surface that a droplet lands on determines how long the virus can remain active i.e. cloth seats, vinyl dashboards, leather steering wheels, rubber, plastic, etc.
So if an infected person travels in our car the air in the car may be a risk for up to three hours. We are at risk for up to three hours with air borne droplet but potentially longer on some surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel. These surfaces can allow the virus to be sustained for a day or so.
What can we do?
We know we currently can’t vaccinate. We can thoroughly clean surfaces and reduce the chance of transmission from different surfaces we touch. We can use disposable gloves while driving to minimise exposing surfaces and ourselves. If you are lucky enough to have hand sanitisers or disposable wipes to hand they will assist greatly in prevention and spread of any virus. We can also use some alcohol solutions or disinfectants but we careful of doing damage.
Where to clean
Focus primarily on the most used surfaces, such as keys, key fob, seat belts, steering wheel, seats, dashboards, buttons/switches, vents and interior and exterior door handles. Vents and dashboards are particularly important as most vehicles have air circulatory systems
Be mindful of who your passengers are and who possible passengers may be in the coming day or two. While over 70’s should not be leaving their houses, others such as those with immune suppressed or chronic respiratory diseases and other conditions need to be considered. Be sure to minimise the opportunity for transmission. This is particularly the case with children. The impact of the virus on children is for the most part mild but they can be carriers and by nature not as attune to personal hygiene or social distancing. It may be prudent if you have a household with two cars available to allow children to travel in one car only on all essential journeys.
Great hygiene, particularly frequent and comprehensive hand washing along with social distancing is our greatest defence. There are services such as ozone sanitising services (http://www.sanitysystem.ie) that can assist with vehicle cleaning and virus management. The system uses ozone to purify and sanitise the car interior. This is just one we came across and there are sure to be similar products on the market.
Be safe and take care.