As our emergency services combine their efforts to keep communities safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our fire, police and ambulance services are working closely with the NHS, voluntary sector and third-sector organisations.

But as key workers, many of whom are working without specialist personal protective equipment, how can you keep yourself safe, and minimise the infection risk to our families and others? Many viruses including coronavirus can live on surfaces for several hours or even days after being touched by or otherwise coming into contact with an infected person. So what are the best steps you can take to prevent spreading?

If there’s one person in the Charity who knows a thing or two about the importance of controlling infection and preventing the spread of germs, it’s our Nursing Services Lead Kath Savage.

She has some top tips and helpful advice for arriving home safely, as well as some other general good habits.

Arriving home safely

If possible, change out of your work clothes before you leave for home.

If you’ve driven home, before you leave the car, wipe down your steering wheel, door handles and controls with anti-bacterial wipes.

Take a moment to yourself, either in the car or outside your front door. Take time to breathe and re-focus before you go in.

Once at the door, knock so you don’t touch the door handle but allow the door to be opened from the inside.

Don’t touch anyone or anything before you’ve washed your hands. Resist touching light switches, door surrounds or children wanting a cuddle until you’ve washed. If possible, take a shower when you get in, concentrating on arms, hands, face and hair.

Have a plastic wipeable box at the door for your work bag, shoes, pens, coat etc. Place these items in the box as soon as you get home and remember to wipe the box down daily. If you have a locker at work, keep those items there rather than bringing them home.

Try to keep your food boxes sealed in a plastic bag when not in use, and wash these regularly in a dishwasher or in hot soapy water.

Keep your phone in a plastic bag during the day and throw this away when you get home.

Consider taking a pillowcase to work with you to put your clothes into, which you can pop straight into the washing machine when you get home.

Make time to relax. During these high-stress situations it’s never been more important to properly unwind and enjoy time with your family. They’ll be anxious about you getting out and about, so enjoy some quality time together.

Other helpful general advice for us all

Washing hands is the single most powerful thing you can do to prevent the spread of infection. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (or as long as it takes you to sing Happy Birthday twice/or Baby Shark for the younger ones) when you arrive home, this is critical to help minimise the spread

Don’t touch your hands to your face/mouth as the virus can enter through your eyes, nose and mouth.

Catch any coughs and sneezes in a tissue not your hand and place the tissue in the bin and wash your hands.

There is some ongoing debate about wearing face masks, currently there is very little evidence to say masks protect you, this may change at any time so always follow Government advice.

Wash towels regularly on a 60 degree wash.

Change hand towels and tea towels daily.

Where possible use a dishwasher, this washes at high temperatures.

Wipe down kitchen surfaces regularly throughout the day, and if you’re using a cloth wash this daily

Do a daily wipe down of light switches, door handles, banisters, backs of chairs, toilet seats and high traffic places such as the fridge and snack cupboards. Get your kids involved to help with this.

Regularly clean your tablets, phones and computers.

We’ve made a handy guide for you to share or download and print off.