As the coronavirus pandemic continues to roar across the United States and the world, getting the right information to stay safe in every situation can be overwhelming. Normally, having an elevator in your apartment building can feel like a luxury, but during a pandemic, it can quickly become an anxiety-inducing activity.
According to Johns Hopkins research, the coronavirus tends to last longer on frequently touched hard surfaces like elevator button panels vs. soft surfaces like your clothes. Apartment complexes across the U.S. have taken note of this, like Brookfield Management, and regularly clean highly-traffic areas to keep residents safe.
“Our third-party cleaning company cleans all of our common areas twice a week, and they have added the following: disinfecting all door knobs, disinfecting all stair rails, cleaning and disinfecting all basement doors and fully disinfecting all laundry rooms,” says Justin Becker, the owner of Brookfield Management.
Sure, you started taking the stairs more often to walk the dog and go outside, giving you some much-needed exercise. But if you proceed with caution and follow these seven coronavirus elevator safety steps, you can protect yourself (and your neighbors) as much as possible.
1. If you can, take the stairs
Being inside all day can get old — real fast. If you’re an able-bodied person, consider skipping the elevator altogether and taking those stairs. It will help stretch your legs after sitting at your desk all day, it engages multiple muscles in a low-cardio exercise and it improves balance.
Just keep an eye on your hands and don’t touch any doorknobs or handrails. If you can’t push your stair door with your body and must turn the doorknob, bring gloves or use a napkin to turn it. Don’t touch your face or mouth during this time. If there’s another neighbor taking the stairs, step to the side in between flights and wait for them to walk by. It’s important to keep as much distance as possible.
2. Strategize your timing
If you live on a high-rise or can’t take the stairs, that’s OK. You just need to take extra precautions when riding the elevator. If you need to take the dog out for a walk, throw away your trash or hit the mailroom, try to go early in the morning (think 7 a.m.) or late at night, if possible.
By avoiding the busiest times in the elevator, you have the ability to ride alone and not ride in a small space with other neighbors.
3. Wait your turn
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to ride the elevator during peak hours. That’s OK, too! But patience is key during these times. Leave your apartment with a 10- to 15-minute buffer if you can.
When the elevator doors open, and you see two or more riders, skip it. At most, you should only ride the elevator with one other person. Unfortunately, safe elevator ridership is up to individuals and being courteous to others.
If you’re riding alone or with another neighbor and someone new wants to take the elevator, feel free to exit and use the stairs instead. It’s up to you to stay safe and kindness goes a long way during these times.
4. Stand on one side of the elevator
Once inside the elevator, stand on one side. Elevators are not large spaces, but it’s important to stand as far away as possible from the other elevator rider. Since the coronavirus is transmitted through droplets from the mouth, refrain from talking while on the elevator.
If you have to cough for any reason, cover your face with your elbow and turn away from the other person.
5. Wear a mask
Depending on where you live, you may not have access to a proper mask or have the financial means to obtain one. However, you can outfit yourself with a DIY facemask or cover your face with a bandana.
While in the elevator and beyond, make sure you don’t touch your mask or readjust. Don’t remove your mask or face covering until you’re back in your apartment.
6. Use a cloth to press buttons
Outfit yourself with gloves or bring a pen or handkerchief that you can wash later to touch the buttons. Use the handkerchief on the same side every time to prevent skin contact. Don’t touch any buttons or doors at any time with your hands. Bring hand sanitizer with you, as well.
7. Most importantly, wash your hands
Whether you’re going on a walk or simply headed to the mailroom, it’s important to avoid touching any surfaces with your bare hands. If you have gloves, use them. If you accidentally touched something, reach in your pocket and use your hand sanitizer immediately. In the end, nothing replaces washing your hands.
Once you return to your apartment, remove your gloves from the inside (here’s how to do it correctly) and throw them away. Remove your mask from the back (don’t touch the front of the mask) and set it with your laundry. Then wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap to kill the coronavirus.
Stay socially distant and follow coronavirus elevator safety tips
In some buildings, taking the elevator right now is unavoidable. Follow these coronavirus elevator safety tips to protect yourself and your neighbors from coronavirus.