Remember when shopping for groceries was just a boring thing we had to do? Not anymore. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, going to the grocery store has become a nerve-wracking event. But with a little planning, you can make this necessary trip a little less stressful.
It’s important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there’s no evidence that COVID-19 spreads through food or food packaging, but the virus can live on different surfaces for different lengths of time. And even though many grocery stores are limiting how many people can be in the store, maintaining a safe distance of six feet can be a challenge in the aisles. Here are some things you can do to help minimize your exposure and make your trip go as smoothly and quickly as possible:
Before You Shop
- Decide if you really need to go. Can you get by with what you have at home? If so, make do and add those things to your list when you really do have to go. Also, search for substitutes for the items you don’t have. Chances are you’ll probably have some of those on hand.
- Consider delivery. If delivery’s an option, you can avoid going altogether.
- Make a list. Use a pen and paper and leave your phone at home. Group your list by produce, frozen foods, meats, etc. and plan your way around the store. Make sure to buy at least one week’s worth of groceries to help cut down on shopping trips.
- Go alone. This helps reduce the number of people in the store. If possible, leave your children at home to limit your family’s potential exposure.
- Park farther away. If there’s a spot that’s farther away from the entrance with fewer cars around, take it. It’ll be easier to maintain the recommended distance of six feet between you and other shoppers when you’re unloading your groceries.
- Be minimal. Just take your credit card and ID, not your entire purse.
- Go early. The stores will be at their cleanest and most stocked. Many grocery stores are limiting the early hours to senior shoppers, so if you don’t fall into that category, go soon after.
- Bring hand sanitizer. If you’re lucky enough to have it, bring it. Use it after loading items into your cart and when unloading into your car.
- If you’re not feeling well, stay home. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, don’t leave your home. Try to arrange for someone to help you out or use a delivery service, such as Instacart.
While You’re Shopping
- Sanitize your hands often. Many stores have disinfectant wipes available by the carts, but make sure to wash your hands before you go to the store and use sanitizer after touching products and the card reader.
- Don’t touch your face. Even if you’re wearing a mask, keep your hands away from your face.
- Wear a mask. Either make one out of cloth or use a regular face mask while you’re shopping. The CDC is now recommending that people wear a cloth mask whenever you go out, including to the grocery store. This helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 from people who are infected but not yet showing symptoms.
- Practice social distancing. Like any public setting, try to maintain at least six feet away from other people. If an aisle is crowded, go to another aisle until it clears up.
- Don’t hoard. Be respectful of other shoppers and buy only what you need for yourself and your family for the next seven to 14 days.
- Avoid unnecessary touching. Use your eyes to choose which products to buy rather than feeling multiple items for ripeness. The same goes for packaged items — only touch what you’re going to buy.
- Gloves aren’t necessary. Gloves become contaminated the same way your hands do. Washing your hands before and after you go to the store is the best way to protect yourself. Also, wash your hands after putting away the groceries.
- Don’t waste time. Get in, get out, and get home. This is where making a list comes in handy.
- Self-checkout or bag your own groceries. If possible, find a self-checkout lane to avoid having others touch your groceries.
- Clean surfaces and get rid of your grocery list. Use a disinfectant wipe to wipe down the checkout area, throw away your list, and decline a receipt.
- Clean your car. Use a disinfectant wipe to wipe your trunk handle and door handle before driving home.
Get the Care You Need, When You Need it
We’re here for your health, no matter what comes our way. Schedule a Virtual Care video or eVisit and get the care you need from the comfort of home.
Once You’re Home
- Wash your hands. This should be the first thing you do when you get home. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Make a clean area. Sanitize an area to put groceries that you’ve cleaned. Let them dry then put them away.
- Wipe down packaging. While there’s no current link between food packaging and becoming infected with COVID-19, the virus can live on surfaces for one to three days. Wiping down packages with a disinfectant wipe or a cloth dampened with a bleach solution can be a good extra measure of protection.
- Wash your produce. Fill your sink with water, remove products from any packaging, discard the packaging, then soak all produce. If it has skin, such as apples or melons, scrub for 20 seconds before putting it away.
- Wash your reusable bags. If they’re cloth, wash them in your washing machine. If they’re made of another material, wipe them down with disinfectant.
- Wash your hands again. After everything’s been cleaned and put away, wipe down your countertops, then wash your hands again.
More Questions About COVID-19?
If you have more questions or concerns about COVID-19, go to BaptistHealth.com or visit other reputable sites, such as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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