Shopping Safety during COVID-19

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How to Safely Shop for Food and Unpack Groceries

If You’re Buying Groceries in a Store

  • Take a disinfectant with you. This could be a commercial wipe, a hand sanitizer or a home-made disinfectant.  Clean your hands and the cart when you begin and when you finish shopping.
  • Keep your distance from other shoppers. This is a key way to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Only pick up items that you intend to buy. Touching items leaves germs for others, and puts you at risk of contact with the germs of others.
  • Shop when the store is less busy. This is usually early in the day.  If you type the store’s name and location into Google search, frequently a box will pop up showing the average foot traffic by hour. In addition, many grocery stores are offering delivery, pick-up or special hours for seniors .  Please check here for a list of local grocery stores.
  • Consider having only one shopper from a household. Ask your neighbors that may find it difficult to get to the grocery store if you can shop for them and drop off.
  • Leave children at home, if at all possible. Although shopping can be a source of distraction, children should stay home from stores where they may touch items and come into contact with others.
  • Use a credit or debit card and wipe down the touchpad with your disinfectant wipe when you finish. You might choose to use a virtual system like Apple Pay so you don’t have to touch your wallet or touchpad.
  • Personal reusable grocery bags are no longer allowed in stores during this COVID-19 outbreak to keep their store employees and the public safe.

If You’re Ordering Groceries to be Delivered

  • Avoid contact with the delivery worker. Arrange to have the items delivered to your doorstep or a place nearby instead.
  • Tip electronically. One benefit of ordering deliveries online or via an app is that you don’t have to hand the delivery person money. Opportunities to tip the delivery person are included in most of the delivery apps and online ordering systems.
  • Order earlier than you usually do. Though it’s not a safety issue, you may find that in the midst of higher demand you have to wait longer.
  • Open the boxes outside, if possible, placing the items in a clean box or bag to bring inside. Recycle the packaging, then wash your hands thoroughly before touching the food items.

How to Safely Unpack Groceries

Because the COVID-19 virus can live outside the human body on surfaces like plastic (2-3 days) and cardboard (24 hours) we recommend taking steps to clean food packages and fruits and vegetables before storing them in your home.

To begin:  Place groceries on one side of your counter (not clean) or table and as you clean, move them to the other side (the clean side) until all the groceries are cleaned.

  • Packaged foods: Using a disinfectant or soap and water on a paper towel:  wash all surfaces of plastic wrap, cans and cardboard packagesand place on the “clean” side of the counter.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Run warm water in the sink, add dish soap or use a cleanser designed for produce.  Wash fruits and vegetables as you would wash your hands:  20 seconds of scrubbing.  Rinse, dry and store.

When you finish, discard wrapping/bags.  Wash your hands and the counter thoroughly.

Recipe for Bleach Solution for Sanitizing

  • 5 tablespoons of bleach to 1 gallon of water; or
  • 4 teaspoons of bleach to 1 quart of water
  • Store in a spray bottled labeled “Bleach Solution” and keep out of reach of children

How to Make a Packet of Sanitizing Wipes

  • Separate 10-20 paper towels and fold each until small enough to fit in a zip-lock sandwich bag
  • Spray or pour a teaspoon of bleach solution into the bag with paper towels, just enough to moisten all the towels.  Drain any excess solution.