7 Things You Must Do If You Hang Out With Your Friends Indoors, According to Doctors

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At this point we have all been living in a pandemic for over half a year, but there is still so much left that has never been before. While some of us have settled into our own quarantine routines, getting into the winter and holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is a brand new territory. Many people have relied on nature to create social distance and see their friends and loved ones, but in places where the weather gets colder, things inevitably have to change - and the fear of a long winter without personal circumstances Spending time with those you love is a terrifying thought.
Many of us now wonder how we can see friends when the weather gets colder, how we can create a coronavirus-safe "pod", and whether it is okay to spend time with people (outside of those you live with) in Spend indoors. In addition to the increased fear of where to go from here, the changing seasons also carry the risk of catching the flu or cold. That's why we've reached out to healthcare professionals to answer our burning questions and give us advice on how best to minimize the risk of a coronavirus without giving up our social lives entirely in the months ahead.
1. Keep yourself healthy
Your health should always be number one. Before deciding whether or not to hang out with other people, make sure that you are keeping every part of your health as good as possible. Dr. Eva Beaulieu, state-certified hospital doctor for internal medicine, recommends not only taking coronavirus-safe measures (staying two meters away from others, washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask), but also doing the following to Strengthen health: sleep well, drink plenty of water, deal with stress and eat a balanced diet. Research shows that these lifestyle factors can help keep your immune system healthy, which in turn enables the body to fight off disease.
Another health precaution that almost any doctor can agree on? Get your flu shot. In addition to recommendations related to coronaviruses, Dr. Jake Deutsch, a state-certified emergency medicine doctor: "Vaccinating and preventing the flu is probably the most important recommendation for the cold and flu season." A small study of 58 people from the UK found that getting flu and coronavirus at the same time can significantly increase the risk of death. So getting a flu shot is an easy way to minimize this dangerous possibility.
2. Find ways to stay outdoors as long as possible
Make sure you have considered all of your outdoor options before considering hanging out with anyone outside of your shared apartment. This is because, according to a Japanese study of 110 cases, the risk of contracting coronavirus is almost 20 times lower outdoors than indoors. There is a higher risk of coronavirus trapping indoors because there is less ventilation and less exchange of potentially contaminated air. If the forecast doesn't indicate freezing temperatures or otherwise bad weather, check to see if it is tolerable to bundle up in a warm coat, grab cozy blankets, and gather together for some socially distant outdoors.
If you're lucky enough to have your own outdoor space - a garden, patio, or roof - there are a few ways to extend the season for outdoor gatherings. Try investing in a fire pit (like this best seller from Amazon) or an outdoor space heater (another best seller from Amazon) to warm up your outside space when the temperatures start to drop. You can even ask other members of your pod to help split the cost if that feels fair. (Tip: If you live in a big city like New York and have a back patio, deck, or roof, be sure to check your city's fire laws before investing in an outdoor heater or fire pit.) If you don't have one, try Bringing your own outdoor space, blankets, and cozy things to a park or other public outdoor space for a small, socially distant gathering.
It's important to understand that there is a risk of contracting coronavirus outdoors, despite the low risk. So you should still practice security measures, e.g. B. Wear masks and stay three feet apart. Dr. Harry Oken, an internal medicine specialist, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and a member of the Medical Advisory Board of Persona Nutrition, adds, half-jokingly, half-not, that "people in general don't understand what social distancing is all that well." . and it's actually worth taking out a tape measure and showing people what six feet is. "Because coronavirus can spread through airborne droplets, the minimum distance that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people stay apart to prevent the spread.
3. Carefully weigh your risks
The safest option, of course, is not to spend personal time or time indoors with anyone outside of the people you live with. Dr. However, Beaulieu says, "You need to weigh the risks of exposure to the virus against the risks that social isolation poses to your mental and emotional health." According to a 2020 study in The Journals of Gerontology, social isolation is linked to a 40% increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia, as well as psychological consequences such as depression and anxiety. So, if you're worried about the worsening of your mental health from persistent social isolation - especially if you suffer from seasonal depression - consider seeing friends or loved ones this winter.
Dr. Deutsch agrees that it is wise to consider safe ways to see friends in the winter if the pandemic continues. "Given the length of the pandemic and the resources that tests are now being used with, this could help people get some normality, but it has to be done with some really wise precautions." So if you want to set up a COVID safe pod (a small group of people that you would like to spend time with in person during the pandemic), make sure you have clear guidelines that all members of your group must follow.
4. Set the rules for your "pod"
Whether you've already set up a Pod or are planning to create one, one thing is certain: you need to be clear about the rules. To ensure that your pod can spend time together as safely as possible, the first thing you need to do is make sure that everyone is taking the same precautions when apart. Dr. Oken recommends everyone in your pod sign up to be safe. That promise, he explains, "means that you won't be out and about, that you won't have much contact with other people when you need to go out, and that you obey the three rules - social distancing by at least six feet, wash your hands frequently, when you are outside of your safety zone and wear face masks. "
Your pod should also discuss decisions about things like going out to restaurants, using public transit, and seeing members outside of your pod.
As Dr. Deutsch explains, if you don't take precautions outside of your pod, you're essentially going to break your pod's security seal. He also encourages everyone to be straightforward and have these specific conversations early so that nothing is overlooked. "There should be very good examples of what to do and what not to do because you might 'podden' with someone but you take one thing and they take another," he says.
Dr. Deutsch adds that if anyone in your group is unwilling to have these discussions about guidelines, "I would definitely not proceed with them because I suspect they will not adhere to their guidelines." Part of the bargain. "
Dr. Beaulieu recommends limiting a capsule to six to eight people. "The more people, the more risks," she adds.
If you and your Pod decide to spend time indoors together, it is recommended that you continue to use the same coronavirus precautions that you should be doing elsewhere. "Set up your space with social distancing in mind, check temperatures, have plenty of hand sanitizer around, let your guests wear masks at all times when they're not eating or drinking, use disposable plates and utensils, and disinfect They often surfaces with an EPA-approved disinfectant, "she says.
5. Ventilate your room as much as possible
Dr. Beaulieu explains that studies have shown that the coronavirus spreads much more frequently indoors, "mainly because indoor ventilation tends to recycle and move germ-filled air that transmits viruses from one person to a room full of people." can. ""
So if you plan to invite people over to your home, do everything you can to reduce the potential for spread. Depending on how cold it is outside, simply opening the window or a door outside can help circulate air. Dr. Oken also recommends getting a HEPA air purifier (like this bestseller from Amazon) for your room and running it for about an hour before a company arrives to assist in replacing and cleaning the air.
6. If something doesn't feel safe, cancel your plans
No matter how excited you were to see a particular person or group of people, Dr. Oken's rule is simple: "If you have to question it, cancel." This means that if you or someone in your pod experiences symptoms or has reason to believe they may have been exposed to coronavirus, cancel any plans to be in a shared area - because it's so much better to be safe be as sorry. This does not mean that you will no longer be able to see your pod in the future, just that you should hold back until you can all be more certain that no one has contracted or been exposed to coronavirus.
7. Only get tested if you have "real" exposure
As tests have become more accessible across the country, opinions have varied as to when and how often people should be tested. As more tests become available, some may believe that regular testing is good practice to make sure you are not unwittingly spreading the virus and to be more secure when planning to hang out with others. Dr. However, Oken cautions against being tested unless you have "real exposure," which means you have reasonable grounds to believe that you have been exposed to coronavirus. His reasoning is that testing at a health clinic or other testing site puts you in an environment where you are more likely to be exposed to positive people. He also adds, "You are using a consumable (the test) that is still, to some extent, in short supply."
The advice of Dr. Oken complies with current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which not everyone should be tested for. The CDC recommends people who should include: "People with symptoms of a coronavirus, people who have had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person) with someone with confirmed coronavirus for at least 15 minutes, and people who have been asked or asked referred to to get tests from your health care provider or local or state health department. "
It's also important to remember that a negative coronavirus test result is not your ticket to life without restrictions when tested. A negative test result only tells you that you are (likely) not infected with coronavirus, but that doesn't change your chances of getting it if you don't take safe precautions. If tested too soon after infection, there is a good chance a false negative test will be performed. Some research has shown that the incubation period can be up to 14 days. So if you think you may have been exposed to the virus, the best thing to do is to self-isolate and wait at least five to six days to get tested - unless you have symptoms and need medical help beforehand.
So while everyone has choices to make for themselves, don't forget that we are still in a pandemic. Taking security precautions can keep yourself and everyone around you safe.

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