Hand sanitizer can lose its chemical strength in the sun, according to experts. (Pexels photo)

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

With summer in full swing, health officials are asking people to rethink their summer habits to better protect themselves against the virus.

Dr. Beth Donaldson, medical director and family physician with Copeman Healthcare, outlined a few summer-specific COVID-19 tips for British Columbians.

One of the most contentious issues that’s arisen during the pandemic is restrictions around social interactions. Donaldson said that whenever meeting people or a group of friends, keep it simple and stay outside.

“Rooms with no circulation have the potential for a higher rate of infection, so when going to a restaurant, being on the patio is the safer option,” Donaldson said.

“If you’re going to a friend’s house for dinner, ensure you’re spacing out the chairs and are only gathering with six to eight people. If you’re inside at a gathering, leave the windows open in the summer.”

Hand sanitizer was one of the hottest commodities in the country at the beginning of the pandemic, but high temperatures can lower its effectiveness.

“Do not leave your hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes in your car when the sun is out, as the heat can evaporate the alcohol, leaving them much less effective,” said Donaldson. “Hand sanitizer also doesn’t spread as well in the heat, potentially leaving surfaces on your hands untouched by the sanitizer.”

Instead, Donaldson recommends keeping a smaller bottle on your person, and to restock a baggy with fresh hand wipes throughout the day so they stay effective in the summer heat.

ALSO READ: Health officials urge long weekend safety as B.C. sees 23 new COVID-19 cases, one death

With summer heat comes its less fun side-effect – sunburns. As people apply their sunscreen, this simple activity may be a inconspicuous way of spreading the virus.

“Before lotioning up your face with sunscreen, always wash your hands to avoid the potential spread of the virus around your eyes,” said Donaldson.

And like hand sanitizer, don’t let your sunscreen roast in the back seat of your car during a hot day, as it can cause it to change consistency and reduce its effectiveness.

Lastly, there aren’t many things more synonymous with summer than a good old fashioned barbecue. So whenever you may be enjoying one, remember to keep your food to yourself.

“Think about individual portions of food and avoid sharing plates,” suggested Donaldson.

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