While it’s still recommended that you limit the amount of travel or the amount of exposure to other people, the sad reality is that many who need to leave home for work do not have this option. Today we want to talk about the COVID-19 essentials that we refuse to leave home without.
This is easily the most important item, and bare minimum the one thing you should always leave home with during the pandemic. Masks not only protect the wearer (depending on the type), but they help prevent those with COVID-19 from spreading it to others. Any sort of face covering, whether it be a surgical mask or a bandana will help significantly reduce the risk of spreading. Please make sure to check that you’re wearing your face covering correctly.
There are many options when it comes to masks. While the N95 masks are highly coveted, they are hard to come by, they only protect the wearer, and they should be saved for medical professionals. However, we have already talked about the effectiveness of the KF94 masks, which protect by filtering around 94% of particulates. They are widely available on Amazon and are much more comfortable to wear than other masks.
We make sure to always have a backup mask or two in our bag if traveling outside. Especially because masks will lose their effectiveness after usage. Leave them in a ziploc bag or in original packaging to keep them safe.
This is another item at the top of our COVID-19 essentials list. When out and about, you may not have access to bathroom with soap and water, so this is the next best thing. The CDC and FDA recommend a hand sanitizer that is alcohol-based with at least 60% alcohol. Be sure to use enough to reach every surface of your hand, and rub until dry.
We’ve been fortunate enough to find Purell at reasonable prices. We also use Wal-Greens or Rite Aid generic drug store brand ones that work just as well. Other hand sanitizers work fine too, but the reason we favor the previously mentioned ones is because they tend to leave less residue on the hands after usage.
Disinfecting Wipes such as Clorox or Lysol wipes are extremely coveted these days due to a shortage. While it may be hard to find listings on Amazon for normal retail price, we have compiled methods to buy them even when initially sold out. The Home Depot site also has them available sometimes. Our team managed to buy 6 canisters for $20, purely on chance by checking early in the morning.
We will put a bunch of them into a clean, ziploc bag if we’re only going out for a short bit. That way, there’s no need to walk around with a bulky container. Use them to wipe down surfaces before you sit, or any packages or other items that you’ll come in contact with.
Be sure to check on the listings on Amazon or Home Depot for availability. It goes quick, but listings do come up if you keep looking and refreshing.
This is another item that we’ll carry a few pairs of in COVID-19 essentials bag. While properly using hand sanitizer or soap/water will do the trick, it’s just an added layer of protection when out and about. I’ll personally keep gloves on when going in and out of Ubers, when I have to touch the door handle or seat belt. Just remember not to use the same gloves to touch other possessions such as your phone, if you think there’s a chance they’re contaminated. Better safe than sorry, so still use hand sanitizer even after you take off the gloves.
There are a ton of options for gloves. I’ve had to jump around from brand to brand, because the prices have been fluctuating like crazy ever since the pandemic first began. 100-count gloves I bought in April for $14 were $24 the next month, then $14 again but with $10 shipping tacked on. Keep shopping around and buy ones that are under $20.
Also, while I don’t have particularly large hands, I’ve found that it’s better to try one size up than what you’d expect, just to be safe. Gloves that are too tight will tear, and your hands will get all sweaty. The last batch I bought were from SAFEGUARD which do the job well.
Alcohol prep pads
These are the tiny alcohol soaked pads that healthcare professionals use before administering injections. They’re 70% alcohol, so it’s nice to have a few of these in your pocket. While they won’t be effective for cleaning bigger surfaces since they are small and dry out easily, they’re perfect to use for wiping down your phone or credit card after use. Your phone is probably the dirtiest thing you carry on your person, and let’s be real: even before COVID, you probably should have been wiping it down. Credit cards change hands pretty often when you’re out, especially these days when people are using cash much less often.
You can usually find a deal on these for 200-count packs. While their prices have gone up since the start of the pandemic, you can still find some good deals on them. Please note that these should not be used as replacements for disinfecting wipes or as hand sanitizers, as that is not their primary use. I’ve used the ones from Medpride. I bought a 200-count in June, and they’ve lasted me about 3 months. Haven’t found a single dud so far. The reviews about the pads drying too fast seem to be from people trying to use them as Clorox Wipes, which again, not what they’re for.
It’s always nice to have a bottle handy, just in case. I personally am too paranoid now to use public water fountains, and I’d prefer not to use a glass if I’m unsure how thoroughly it was washed.
At the end of the day, what you carry with you will depend on your needs and what you have access to. Please feel free to let us know what your own COVID-19 Essentials kit looks like, or if you have any questions about finding any of these items.