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Coronavirus safety: How to sanitize and unpack Amazon deliveries

More and more people are getting food and supplies delivered these days. It might seem like the safer option at first, but new reports show at least 10 Amazon warehouses have workers who tested positive for COVID-19.

Remember, it’s not robots or drones that are handling our packages, but real people — people who can get sick just like the rest of us. We can’t say for sure how long the virus lasts on surfaces, but there are indications it’s longer than we originally thought.

Traces of the virus were found on the Diamond Princess cruise ship 17 days after sick passengers disembarked. Tap or click here to see how long we think coronavirus particles can survive on surfaces.

What does that mean for home deliveries? We must be diligent. To properly clean your packages, you need to know the right steps to kill germs and keep infectious particles out. So, what are the best ways to handle and disinfect your deliveries so they’re safe to bring indoors?

Social distancing: It even works with deliveries

Everyone is practicing social distancing in an effort to flatten the curve of infection, but what happens when someone brings you a package? You want as little face-to-face interaction as possible and services like Amazon make it easy.

If you order a package from Amazon, make sure the delivery driver leaves it at your doorstep or in a package locker, if your community has one. To do this, you can leave special delivery instructions during checkout on either the Select a shipping address or Review your order pages.

Just choose Add delivery instructions and mention you want your package on your doorstep, in a package locker or another location of your choosing. Tap or click here to see more Amazon delivery options.

Once your delivery arrives, let it sit for at least three hours before retrieving it. This will reduce your chance of contacting any airborne particles from the delivery person.

Handle with care

Social distancing will only protect you from human-to-human transmission. For germs lingering on your packages, you need to take extra precautions.

When you retrieve your deliveries, take note of the packaging. If you have them, put on a pair of gloves and place your package in a safe, secure outdoor location — like the backyard, patio or balcony — for 24 hours.

If it’s a plastic package, bag or envelope, leave it in your secure spot for up to three days. Trace amounts of particles could still cling to the material, but they will be less likely to infect you or spread indoors.

Once you’ve moved your packages, remove the gloves and dispose of them immediately. Carefully wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.

Keeping it clean

When you’re ready to retrieve your packages, put on a new pair of gloves. Use disinfecting wipes to clean off the outside of each parcel and make sure the chemicals they contain will kill the virus and other germs.

You can use a disinfectant wipe or a paper towel moistened with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Tap or click here to see what products the FDA recommends.

Next, open the packages and discard the boxes. Wipe down the items inside with disinfectant and remove your gloves before bringing the items inside. Dispose of any wipes and gloves immediately, then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Do we need to tell you again? Wash for at least 20 seconds.

If you want extra peace of mind, you can leave the opened items in your safe location for another one to three days before bringing them indoors. Otherwise, place them in an area that’s free of heavy foot-traffic and away from family members and food, if possible.

Wash your hands after every time you use or handle the items for at least two weeks. Anyone else using them should do the same, and everyone should avoid touching their faces or eyes.

Not all items can afford to sit outside for extended periods of time. If your deliveries are perishable, sanitize the packaging using the steps above, then put them directly in your refrigerator and avoid tables and countertops.

Use gloves to handle the containers and avoid hugging them close to your body when moving them. Any outer packaging should be removed and thrown directly into the trash before storing the items in your fridge.

Try to isolate them from other items in your refrigerator, wait one to three days, then wipe them down again before opening.

Clean hands, clean bill of health

One thing you’ll keep seeing on my site and in the news is how important it is to wash your hands. This is because the coronavirus’ outer surface is made of a fat-like material that melts with soap and warm water. Keeping your hands clean is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the virus.

The CDC recommends you wash your hands not just when you interact with packages or venture outdoors. You should also wash your hands for each of the following situations:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

The last one is especially important, since ordering from Amazon or any other online retailer will leave you with lots of packaging and trash to throw away.

All these extra steps may seem excessive, but COVID-19 is no laughing matter. As our understanding of the disease grows, we’re finding that it’s extremely dangerous, not just for the elderly or immunocompromised, but for people of all ages.

If we practice good hygiene, we can safely rely on deliveries to stock up on supplies without getting infected. Stay vigilant and stay healthy.

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