SeaCare's guide to grocery shopping safely
The neighborhood grocery store remains one of the last stands for open business during the coronavirus pandemic. Even with a more favorable outlook on declining cases for Washington state, those who are more vulnerable to contracting the virus will need to continue taking all the necessary precautions when leaving their homes until it's deemed safe to go back to business as normal.
Essential protective accessories like disposable gloves, masks and hand sanitizer are in short supply with businesses directing their resources towards emergency medical workers first and foremost. However, there are still ways to best equip yourself for trips out of the house.
When shopping in person, local grocery stores such as Red Apple are setting senior only shopping hours (as well as for pregnant women and others at higher risk of contracting the virus), usually early in the morning. Here’s a list from AARP of several stores offering designated hours.
Some grocery stores are even considering closing their doors to offer curbside pickup and delivery only, in particular smaller stores without enough space for adequate social distancing. Unless that happens, seniors and their caregivers should plan on shopping during off hours to prevent being caught in too close contact with a fellow shopper.
Opting to have your groceries delivered might be the safest option for getting the necessary provisions. Besides the obvious options of Amazon delivery, TaskRabbit offers grocery delivery, and Instacart connects you to delivery options from nearby chain superstores.
If and when you do hit the store, PPE (personal protective equipment) can go the extra mile in shielding you from any contaminated surfaces. Gloves are still in stock from online retailers like Amazon and Walmart, but they could take weeks to arrive. If you can find some for sale, here’s a guide on how to wear them properly. As the article points out, there’s no point in wearing gloves if you're going to rummage through your purse or use your phone while wearing them.
Make sure to use hand sanitizer immediately before and after shopping, whether or not you wear gloves in the interim. Most stores have sanitizing wipes or spray and paper towels located by the front door to wipe down shopping carts and baskets before they’re used as an extra preventative measure. And don’t forget to wash your hands as soon as you get home.
As for hand sanitizer, it’s making a comeback in some places. In another show of small business ingenuity, distilleries across the nation are pitching in for the cause and using their resources to manufacture sanitizer along with or in place of liquor. Glass Vodka based in Seattle and Wildwood Spirits Co in Bothell are a couple distilleries that are giving away hand sanitizer.
Lastly, this step-by-step tutorial from the New York Times shows how to make your own mask. One experiment found that adding two paper towel filters can block around 30 percent of the smallest particles, or the ones that are most worrisome.
SeaCare recommends seniors and their caregivers to run through a mental checklist of all PPE before heading out the door to do necessary errands. We hope everyone is staying as safe and healthy as they can be during these unprecedented times.