There’s no doubt that back-to-school this year is going to be super weird. Some classes are going to be staying online, and some are going to be in-person. And some of you might not yet know which direction your school is going to take.
As it currently stands, according to US Insurance Agents, “Nine out of 10 children worldwide are now at home due to coronavirus school closures.”
But regardless of whether you’re going to the classroom or your living room, we wanted to put together a guide of essentials that you can take with you.
1. Hand sanitizer
There has been a lot of misinformation out there around whether or not hand sanitizer kills coronavirus (as well as other bacteria).
To start, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that, “If soap and water are not readily available, [the CDC] recommends consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol).”
So what’s ethanol? And how does hand sanitizer work?
The basics of hand sanitizer:
- Most effective hand sanitizers are made up of 60% + ethanol, propanol, and isopropyl alcohol.
- These chemicals are highly soluble in water and can make for a great gel solution.
- Together, this mixture destroys pathogens by busting up their proteins.
- Because hand sanitizer is so strong, most bacteria can’t develop resistance.
- Most hand sanitizers kill many kinds of bacteria, like the flu virus, coronaviruses, HIV, and the common cold virus.
But be warned — not all hand sanitizers are created equally. The main thing that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants you to be on the lookout for is “methanol”. If the hand sanitizer contains methanol, it can be dangerous when absorbed through your skin. Here’s a list of FDA-approved hand sanitizers you can check don’t contain methanol.
Our recommendation: Sometimes a classic is a classic for a reason. For hand sanitizer, we recommend Purell Gel Pump. Contains no methanol, and comes with a gel pump to provide more coverage than the average spray.
Face masks have also been the subject of much confusion. Do they even work? Are they effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19?
The short answer — yes.
According to the CDC, reporting on two medical case studies recently released, “...the investigation focused on two hairstylists — infected with and having symptoms of COVID-19 — whose salon policy followed a local ordinance requiring cloth face coverings for all employees and patrons. The investigators found that none of the stylists’ 139 clients or secondary contacts became ill, and all 67 clients who volunteered to be tested showed no sign of infection.”
Because COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, meaning it spreads through droplets from an infected person coughing/talking/sneezing, a cloth face mask works to help prevent its spread.
But how effective are face masks at preventing the spread of COVID-19? According to the University of California San Francisco, “An experiment using high-speed video found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were generated when saying a simple phrase, but that nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a damp washcloth.”
But you should be sure to get a washable face mask, as you’re recommended to wash your face mask after wearing 2 times.
Our recommendation: The OURA Air Mask Jr. is tested to filter > 95% of viral particles and bacteria without the N95 filter. But just in case, it also comes with an optional NIOSH-approved N95 filter. Plus it’s antimicrobial, so it kills germs before they can penetrate the mask, and is machine washable.
3. Weather-Resistant Backpack
This one is a given, but especially in 2020 with all that’s going on, it’s incredibly important to invest in a backpack that is antimicrobial or weather resistant. Because just think about it — your backpack sits on the floor, in the bathroom, at your desk. It has an incredibly high chance of spreading germs.
Just take reusable cloth grocery bags as an example. While they are better for the environment than using a plastic bag, they can also carry a multitude of harmful bacteria. In a recent study, it was found that E. Coli was in 10 percent of the bags studied, and nearly all cloth grocery bags carried some level of bacteria in them.
So, do a little research, and find a bag that is weather resistant or uses antimicrobial fibers to protect you from carrying harmful bacteria and germs from class to class.
Our recommendation: Tortuga backpacks are weather-resistant, super economical, and they sell an antimicrobial bag that you can carry inside your backpack!
4. Water Bottle
You’re going to want a water bottle. Can you imagine drinking from a water fountain in 2020? Yikes.
Bringing a personal water bottle is imperative, but also, we’re all about water bottles that self-purify. After all, clean is kind of our thing.
Many water bottles on the market are non-toxic, BPA-free, and come with the ability to filter your water on-the-go. So not only are you drinking healthy water, if you’re in a pinch, you can get public water and filter it. No worries about drinking heavy metals, lead, fluoride, or other contaminants. Even better, if you can get one that uses UV light to filter, you’re getting antimicrobial in a bottle — UV light works to filter out 99% of germs like giardia, cryptosporidium, and E.Coli. So you can drink up — safely.
Our recommendation: The Larq bottle. It’s completely filter-free — and instead uses UV light to filter contaminants out of your water. Cool, huh?
Among all of the uncertainty and sheer craziness we live in, we strongly believe that you shouldn’t have to live in fear of germs. The best we can do is protect ourselves and our loved ones for the greater good of everyone else by wearing face masks and investing in antimicrobial products. When we live in a community that works to do good for one another, we can live a little more carefree.