Most states have adopted some type of shelter in place order to protect people from the coronavirus pandemic. But apartment-dwellers face some unique challenges compared with those who live in single-family homes, as sometimes it’s simply impossible to avoid common areas and amenities like stairwells, the laundry room, the mailroom and elevators.
Fortunately, many apartment powers-that-be are way ahead of the game when it comes to protecting their residents. Michigan-based Brookfield Management is one that has preemptively revamped cleaning standards.
Whether or not your community has taken these additional precautions, it’s probably a good idea to further protect yourself when forays into the common areas are necessary.
Here are a few handy suggestions to stay safe from coronavirus when in apartment common areas.
1. Wear a mask
Although there has been much back-and-forth about whether using a face mask is beneficial, the most recent research analyzed by CDC indicates that they’re a helpful measure in preventing the spread of coronavirus. This is especially critical in close-quarter places where it’s more challenging to maintain the six-foot social distancing recommendation, such as a small laundry room or in narrow hallways.
This measure is not just to protect yourself, however. Many people have the disease, but never show symptoms. Others take a while to show symptoms but are still contagious. By wearing the mask in public you’re preventing the spread of any disease that you’re currently unaware of, itself a commendable public service.
Masks also help to keep people from touching their own faces with contaminated hands, so many people opt to don them for that purpose. There’s no need to hunt down medical-grade masks that healthcare professionals rely on to stay safe, however. A homemade cloth mask will do just fine.
2. Touch as few surfaces as possible
You really don’t know how many people have touched those elevator buttons or handrails in the stairwell.
If you must press an elevator button, use your elbow. And if you do come in contact with high-traffic surfaces (like knobs in the laundry room) wash your hands as soon as possible. In fact, minimize exposure to these surfaces by bringing a napkin or cloth with you to use as a barrier!
3. Adjust your schedule
If possible, avoid common areas during peak times, and opt instead to visit them early in the morning or late at night. Fewer people equals less chance that someone will sneeze and set off a coronavirus chain reaction of sorts.
4. Wait your turn
Elevators are extra-tricky when it comes to the “stay six feet away from other people” guideline. Instead of putting yourself and others at risk, wait for the next elevator to come so that you can ride in blissful, and hopefully, hygienic solitude.
You could also consider taking the stairs. Gyms are closed right now, so it’s an easy way to get in a quick leg workout. Just remember to keep your hands off the railings.
The same goes for the laundry area or mailroom. If someone is in there getting a package or their mail, stay off to the side (at least six feet away) and wait patiently for your turn.
5. Park at a distance
By the same token, it’s safer to park a little farther away from other cars, so that you don’t have any awkward close encounters. Try to park at least one spot away from other vehicles, more if possible.
We’re all in this together
Coronavirus is scary, but the good news is that practicing stellar hygiene habits and using common sense can help keep you and everyone around you safe. Now that’s being a good neighbor.