5 Expert-Approved Tips for Safely Renting Airbnbs This Summer
If you are planning a vacation or are thinking of getting away, many states are in the process of allowing homeowners to rent their rooms to visitors during the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Current recommendations from federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Social Distance make it clear that we should stay at home as often as possible - but you may be wondering whether staying in a short-term vacation rental is comparable to staying in your own is at home.
The most obvious risk when renting a vacation home could actually be how to get there. Travel is largely discouraged by health authorities: even if you avoid public transportation by air, rail, or road by driving your family to your destination, there's a risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus, this leads to a COVID-19 diagnosis while you make a pit stop for gas or food on the way. Then you can innocently spread infectious droplets in all tourist destinations that you visit in your rental house. Planning a vacation with social distance in mind is paramount: think of activities where you don't have to enter enclosed spaces with a crowd that you don't know.
If you choose to trigger the temporary rental, planning your arrival is equally important, says Dr. Andria Rusk, a research associate who specializes in infectious diseases at the College of Public Health & Social Work at Florida International University. Most of the work you can do to reduce the risk of getting sick in a vacation rental can be done before you leave home. Plan a safe route there, consider who will be with you on this trip, and be ready to safely clean the room when you get there, Rusk says, and you'll effectively reduce many of the risks of visiting one connected to another apartment or another house that is not yours.
What you should ask your landlord before you book:
You can reduce many of the risks associated with moving to a new room by asking the landlord owner for the following questions.
When was the house last occupied? According to the CDC, the virus spreads mainly through person-to-person contact (just speaking or breathing, in addition to sneezing and coughing), but infectious breath droplets can also live on surfaces throughout the house - which means that you may also come into contact with SARS Touch a contaminated object and then rub your eyes, nose, or mouth. Health experts are still researching the viability of infectious particles on all surfaces. However, a pioneering study published by the New England Journal of Medicine assumes that the virus can live on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to 2-3 days.
What have you done to clean the room? Some homeowners are encouraged by services like Airbnb and Vrbo to follow established guidelines for cleaning their homes. These homeowners can use personal protective equipment (PPE) and completely disinfect touch-sensitive surfaces throughout the home. Airbnb encourages landlords to use a "booking buffer" that allows airborne particles to neutralize over time. Even if the owner does not list their property on one of these platforms, you should be aware of how he works to protect visitors from infection (and that they reward social efforts to distance themselves upon arrival).
Do you rent continuously? Since it has been determined that the virus will die on surfaces after some time, it is important to understand how often the house is rented (and cleaned). If possible, ask your host for a grace period of at least 3 days between your arrival and the last rental, advises Rusk. "Three days is a sufficient buffer between guests to ensure that virus copies are disabled," she says. The longer between guests, the less likely you are to interact with viral germs on a surface.
Are there any city, county, or state restrictions that I should know about? You may need to be quarantined in the rental home for at least 14 days in the city or state you're traveling to. Before you arrive, check with the state or local health authorities to find out about the latest travel restrictions or lodging orders.
How to reduce risks in your apartment:
Even if you were able to confirm that your Airbnb was empty and fully cleaned for three days, you can take some extra precautions when you arrive, Rusk says.
Wear masks on arrival and immediately open the windows to promote airflow. It can be unnecessary when the house is empty, but you want to reduce the risk of encountering infectious droplets in the air that may seep inside. If you ventilate the house for the first few hours, you can also supply fresh air before operating air conditioning systems that would otherwise let the stale air circulate.
Bring disinfectant and disinfectant to clean touch points. Knowing that the virus on plastic and stainless steel can stay viable longer, Rusk says that it would completely disinfect touch-sensitive surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens (especially if someone had recently cleared the room). Also consider washing bedding and disinfecting other hard surfaces in bedrooms. With most disinfectants, the surfaces must be moistened with a cleaning agent for at least five minutes, if not longer. It is therefore important that you carry out your cleaning thoroughly. As always, you should avoid touching your face until you have been able to wash your hands properly after you finish cleaning. Wearing gloves can remind you to avoid this.
Disinfect wooden floors when traveling with young children. "Fabrics are generally not a [higher risk] of transmitting disease, so I wouldn't worry - and vacuuming is not an effective way to remove viral copies of carpets," explains Rusk. "However, if I had small, crawling children, I would consider cleaning hard floors with a disinfectant and placing a play mat on different surfaces for each tummy time."
Use an air purifier. If you know that you have just moved into a room less than 24 hours after the previous guest, according to Rusk, air purifiers with PECO filters can reduce the risk in addition to all of the above tips. Packing your home's air purifier or buying a new one for your trip is a good solution if the airflow in your new room is also limited (few windows or shared outdoor spaces with other devices).
Should You Quarantine Before You Go? What about family and friends?
All of the above risks and advice are based on the assumption that you are traveling with people you have lived with since the pandemic started. You should quarantine (or probably cancel your trip altogether) before you travel if you have had COVID-19 symptoms in the past two weeks or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
If you plan to meet friends or family in your vacation rental, think about how big the room is: can you quarantine someone if symptoms occur? Ultimately, there is some risk of sharing a vacation home with those you don't normally live with, even if both parties are committed to social distance and do their best to avoid exposure while traveling. You are better off renting the house alone - you need to weigh your personal risk for serious COVID-19 complications (for example, do you live with older relatives?) Before making decisions. Remember, even if you stay at home for two full weeks before vacation, this isolation can be practically zero if you are at risk on your trip to the rental home.
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