Safety Strategies: How to Prepare for the New Normal

Yoguely teaches safety strategies that will help you minimize risk and stay safe in the new normal - living the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, you are going to learn 5 safety strategies that will help you minimize risk and stay safe in the new normal.

Using these strategies will minimize your risk of being infected with the coronavirus disease during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

These are the exact strategies I used to engineer preparation tactics and stay safe among the chaos of these difficult times.

Let’s dive into it!

How to Prepare for the New Normal

Currently, I am under a stay at home order due to the hazardous pandemic.

I have been in isolation since late February. Going out only to check the mail or throw out the trash. It has been only 10 weeks and governments are beginning to lift restrictions.[1]

Every day the situation is changing rapidly. Some kids are being found to have syndromes of a kawasaki-like disease. As of today, we still do not know if that is linked to coronavirus.[2]

On top of that, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow exponentially around the globe.

Total confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of May 16, 2020. This is the result of a lack of safety strategies among a great majority of leaders and citizens in the world.
COVID-19 Dashboard

All the while, we are strangely getting accustomed to this new normal.

To reduce everybody’s risk of getting the disease, we are reducing our exposure to others by maximizing spatial distancing, and staying at home.

But we all need food to survive. Especially nutritious food, to stay healthy and maintain a strong immune system.

And if your job can’t be done remotely, and you aren’t yet financially independent, you may need to venture out in order to pay the bills.

With movement restrictions changing, and new scientific data being discovered, it can be very misleading whether you should be taking certain safety precautions or not.

On one hand, governmental leaders are saying “Hey, there is no difference between essential and nonessential businesses anymore.”

And on the other hand, you know that dine-in services, hair cuttery salons, clothing stores, gyms, and entertainment are definitely not necessary to keep you alive.

You can prepare food, cut your own hair, mend your own clothes, do exercise, and entertain yourself in the safety of your home.

If you want to become independent from entire organizations of humans to do these simple tasks for you, there is no better time to learn new skills than today.

With that said, you cannot rely solely on the advice of superiors to prevent contagion. In essence, you’ll need a decision making strategy that is well grounded even when the situation changes.

How to Prevent Coronavirus (Using Safety Strategies)

We are currently only in the first wave of COVID-19. One thing we can learn from past pandemics is that there is a very real possibility that the virus mutates into a more infectious or fatal strain.

For example, take a look at the 1918 Spanish Flu. It lasted about 2 years and had three big waves of illnesses spikes.[3] In the second wave, the virus had mutated to a much deadlier form, yielding the highest fatality rate of the whole pandemic.[4]

Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat their mistakes.

Paraphrased from George Santayana

So you’ll need overarching strategies to navigate unexpected situations, so that you can defend yourself against the unknown threats to come.

When they do happen, you can’t afford to wait for someone else to make a plan.

Quickly, you’ll have to adapt diverse techniques and tools at your disposal to keep yourself safe.

That is where Yoguely comes in, because we are all about multidisciplinary solutions.

OK let’s get to it.

Now I’ll show you five actionable strategies, used by professionals, to reduce risk and ensure maximum safety. These strategies come from diverse fields including medical science, engineering, and philosophy.

1. Know Your Circle of Control

It’s all over the news. The danger is out there and you know it’s coming it’s a matter of time before it affects you.

Do you drop in fetal position while endlessly scrolling through forums of regurgitated information? Trying to read every possible perspective on the issue?

Without a plan, you may find yourself worrying about things you cannot control. The constant worrying stresses out your mind and body, ultimately deteriorating your health.

If you bother your friends and family with your distress, your social relationships may suffer. And on goes the domino effect.

Every minute you spend worrying is a minute you did not spend preparing. Which can mean the difference between a healthy life or having a bad day.

How do the best leaders keep their calm and act so rationally? Because they are proactive instead of reactive.

So, the first safety strategy is the following.

Distinguish between the things you can control and those you cannot.

Learn more this about concept in A Guide to the Good Life (affiliate link).

Stock market crash of 2020. A result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil price war.
hello darkness my old friend…

“A political drama! The stock market crashed! Live sporting events are cancelled! A famous actor tweeted an opinion! All of this and more related to the pandemic!”

Back away folks. Nothing to do here. There is literally nothing actionable to take away from the hourly news. So do not give them a second more of your attention.

Yoguely is only concerned about what is within our circle of control. So here is what you need to do: put yourself on an information diet.

Your prescription will be to cut out all overly processed articles that share “empty” content with low actionable value. This way, you will no longer expend mental energy on the things you cannot control.

Focus your attention the things you can control.

Instead, you will focus your attention on the issues you can address. Like:

  • What cleaner are you going to use against coronavirus?
  • What disinfectant will you use that kills coronavirus?
  • How will you properly gown into your personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent getting coronavirus on you?
  • How will you safely disinfect groceries at home?
  • How will you decontaminate yourself after getting exposed to coronavirus?
  • How will you prepare to shelter at home for as long as possible?

Try this exercise, right here right now.

Close your eyes. Now pop all the thought bubbles that float in your mind. Open your eyes and take a look around you.

Everything is fine.

Now start tacking the problems that are within your reach.

Once you have done everything in your power to keep yourself and your loved-ones safe, nothing can disturb your tranquility.

Next, let’s talk about a second safety strategy that will help you figure out where to find useful information and who to trust.

2. Be Skeptical and Verify

“Hey Yoguely, if I shouldn’t be checking the news like a maniac, how am I suppose to be an informed citizen?”

We live in an age of information abundance. In this day it is more important than ever, to be capable of differentiating between relevant and irrelevant information.

Most consequential to your future, is to be capable of ignoring all the misinformation.

Even information that come from a credible authority cannot be taken plainly as truth or as the best advice.

There are no facts, only interpretations.

Friedrich Nietzsche

For instance, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was only 8.234 thousand confirmed cases worldwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the general public not to wear masks unless they are having symptoms of the coronavirus.

But if you look at what the CDC recommends for healthcare workers, you’ll find that they recommend using the NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirator as part of their personal protective equipment (PPE).[5]

It took the CDC 2 months and 1.096 million cases world wide to issue a recommendation to the pubic to wear cloth masks to slow the help slow the spread of the illness.[6]

This monstrosity of a situation could have looked a lot milder if we did not leave it solely up to “others” to process data and disseminate advice.

Sources must be questioned. Are they following this same advice? Would they give this advice to their mother?

Seriously.

If they aren’t using the advice they give, chances are you might be getting a recommendation that isn’t in your best interest.

Ask Questions and Seek Answers

So to ensure your safety, you’ll need a strategy to develop your own conclusions. Start by asking questions.

For the above situation, you could ask things like “What size is the coronavirus?” “How effective are different kinds of masks at filtering out that particle size?”

Here is why you need a safety strategy to protect yourself in this pandemic. This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. In this view, the protein particles E, S, and M, also located on the outer surface of the particle, have all been labeled as well. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

To find answers, look at scientific papers or well-researched analysis backed by scientific data.

For instance, use search engines to find what the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has on the topic.

  • “Topic” + “NIH”

The NIH has several types of cited content ranging from “help-call-an-interpreter” to “now-your-talking-my-language”. You’ll find news for the general public, info for consumers, info for health professionals, and what scientists like me enjoy, the hard data — scientific publications.

If you wish to solely search for scientific articles, hop on to scholar.google.com. If you hit a paywall, just email the author.

Most of the time they will be thrilled to send a copy of their paper your way. (At least I am)

With the answer you find, you can do what leaders do best, think about what is worth doing and formulate a direction.

Next, let’s go over a third safety strategy. This one will help you know how to decrease the risk of things going wrong as you go about your day-to-day.

3. Minimize Risk

Through my experience as a failure analyst engineer, I have acquired the habit of envisioning scenarios where things can go wrong.

But most importantly thinking,

what exactly would I do if things did go wrong?

This is the same strategy astronauts use to decrease risk in life threatening missions. They prepare by doing contingency simulations.

Astronauts prepare for missions by pretending a possible future event that cannot be predicted has happened, and then they study the situation.

In a contingency sim, you identify deficiencies and unknowns in your procedure. Then you address each one of those failings, until all the known unknowns are taken care of.

Aida Yoguely encountered real Moon rocks while working at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Astronauts use many safety strategies to minimize risk and ensure success of their mission.
These are moon rocks stored at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Can you imaging all the preparation the Apollo astronauts took to ensure the success of their mission?

See Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s book (affiliate link) on the rigorous of astronaut training.

The more often you expose yourself to a situation, the more likely that all sorts of scenarios can play out.

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Murphy’s Law

So to minimize risk, constantly prepare for the next “What If.”, until all scenarios you can think of are covered.

Use the Risk Minimization Strategy

In the risk minimization strategy, you are consistently identifying risks, and then determining whether you can avoid or eliminate it, reduce it, share it, or accept the risk.[7]

Let’s look at a quick example.

You are going to disinfect items at home and you suppose it should be fine to only wear gloves.

But since you want to minimize risk you think,

What is the worse that could happen if I only wear gloves to disinfect coronavirus?

We have the habit of touching our faces. In fact, we touch our face on average 23 times per hour, 368 times per day.[9] So you could accidentally touch your face and infect yourself with the virus. Perhaps this mistake might not happen the next time you go to disinfect something. But the more times you do, the closer you get to that scenario playing out.

How can I reduce the risk of touching my face and getting coronavirus?

Good leaders aim to make procedures simple and fool-proof for the sake our future selves. To reduce the risk of touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, wear the best face protection you can. You can wear a face mask and goggles, so that in the case that you reach over to scratch or rub your face, you “accidentally” but completely purposefully only make contact with your face protection. Danger averted.

Can I avoid having to disinfect groceries?

You run the risk of acquiring of the virus from contaminated surfaces. For non-refrigerated items, one way to avoid handling disinfectants is to quarantine the items to destabilize the coronavirus. The minimum time required depends on the packaging material.[8]

What can I do about the contingencies I don’t know to prepare for?

The contingencies that you don’t know you don’t know about are the biggest problem you may face. However, we don’t worry about them. Because there is nothing that can be done about things outside of our control. It is simply a risk you’ll have to accept. After all, it’s either accepting the risk or not eating!

4. Become Self-Sufficient

This next safety strategy has to do with one fascinating aspect about the pandemic. It makes us notice the things that are truly important to us.

No longer is it so simple to get the bare necessities that keep us alive and the things that kept us comfortable.

So now you are faced with several choices. You have to decide what things are worth doing yourself at home, and what things are worth risking your life for.

If you approach each problem with an engineer’s mind, you’ll notice that most things are not a dilemma at all.

Think about it.

A problem can be solved in many different ways.

The most elegant solutions, and often the most appropriate solution, are those that give you the most value and use the least amount of resources in the long term.

What kind of solution brings the most value? You ask.

A solution that can solve not just a single problem, but multiple problems simultaneously, without creating new problems.

Being self-sufficient is a safety strategy that eliminates a whole myriad of issues including getting infected with the harmful coronavirus.

For example, cutting your own hair, making your own coffee, exercising at home, and filtering your tap water will save you gas, time, and a heck lot of money in the long run. It also happens to help you maintain spatial distance from people too.

Are your problems worth the risk of contagion?

Aida Yoguely at the beach in the island of Puerto Rico.
The beaches sure are beautiful. Do you have the willpower to delay the gratification of going out today, in order to end the pandemic sooner, and enjoy WAY MORE freedom of safety in the future?

Right now in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico there are a lot of problems. Not only the silly ones like “My hair is too long and I don’t dare to cut it myself.”

No, I’m talking about quarantining while having sudden earthquakes, low water pressure, random power blackouts, and the hot summer heat.

Right now, those in Puerto Rico who aren’t used to a little discomfort might just want to fly out of the island and unintentionally spread the virus.

But Puerto Ricans has had worse. They had hurricane Maria in 2017.

Thousands of people did not have power for months. They suffered under the unbearable sun, waiting in long lines in hopes of getting food. Entire neighborhoods filled buckets of water at fire hydrants and carried them home.

Health problems, like starvation and dehydration, are worth addressing amidst contagion. Important to realize though is that once your physiological needs of food and water are met, pretty much everything is not a “need”, it’s a “want.”

But so far in the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no scarcity of food and water.

So people who have endured tough situations like Maria are mentally prepared to do everything in their power to stop the pandemic sooner rather than later. Many Puerto Ricans are opting to use food delivery services from local farmers and supermarkets to avoid running errands outside.

After all, staying at home is VERY comfortable compared to other bad things that can happen to us. Like, being bedridden with pneumonia while pilling up thousands of dollars in medical costs.

You too can develop the mental endurance to safely get through this. Practice visualizing how much worse things could be, and practice being self-sufficient at the things you can do from home.

5. Use the Sterile Technique

This last strategy is by far the most important. Without this, it is simply too easy to get infected given how contagious the coronavirus is.

What is the Sterile Technique?

The sterile technique is an essential safety principle that reduces the risk of microbial transmission. The objective is to prevent contamination by practicing careful handling of sterile materials.[10]

This precedent is used by nurses and doctors in the medical field. It’s practiced in nursing, in the ICU, and in surgery rooms to reduce the risk of infection. Biologists use the aseptic technique to make cell cultures in laboratories. And engineers like me use it in cleanrooms to make advanced nanotechnlogy.

Aida Yoguely gowned with full PPE as she works in the cleanroom developing nanotechnology.
Aida Yoguely fully gowned in a “bunny suit” PPE as she works in a cleanroom environment.

You can apply this same practice in your day-to-day to decrease your exposure to the novel coronavirus, and thus reduce your risk of infection.

There is intensive in-depth training involved to master the sterile technique. While the specific tactics are different in each field, the strategy and principles are the same.

But for the sake of simplicity, here are the 10 of the most important principles involved:[11]

  1. An item is either sterile or contaminated.
  2. Once an item is touched by a contaminated surface, it is contaminated.
  3. Any item that became unintentionally wet is now contaminated.
  4. Create a clean environment with a sterile table.
  5. Wash your hands before starting any sterile procedure.
  6. Persons must be gowned and gloved.
  7. Persons must keep hands separated from each other, above the waist, within eye sight, and away from the face.
  8. Sterile persons touch only sterile items. Unsterile persons touch only unsterile items.
  9. A sterile person must avoid leaning or reaching over the unsterile area. And vice versa.
  10. Use only sterile supplies.

Adhering to these aseptic principles will help keep you safer and healthier in the long run.

Conclusion

There you have it folks. That’s my guide on 5 safety strategies to reduce your risk and stay safer in the new normal.

Share this important information with your family, friends, and neighbors. The health of one depends on the health of all. <3

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Or join the discussion in the Yoguely Community Forum.

Now that you have new safety strategies to survive this pandemic, let’s move on to the specific tactics to sanitize and prevent coronavirus. Join our newsletter to stay tuned and get the latest content straight to your inbox.

I’m Aida Yoguely. Thanks for learning with me today. And I’ll see you in the next one.

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References


1. ^ Sarah Mervosh, Jasmine Lee, Lazaro Gamio, and Nadja Popovich (May 12, 2020). “See Which States Are Reopening and Which Are Still Shut Down”. The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2020.

2. ^ (May 13, 2020) “Coronavirus: 15 US states investigating cases of children suffering from rare inflammatory syndrome, Cuomo saysIndependent. Retrieved May 14, 2020.

3. ^ (May 11, 2018) “1918 Pandemic Influenza: Three WavesCDC. Retrieved May 12, 2020.

4. ^ (May 12, 2020). “Spanish Flu”. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 12, 2020.

5. ^ (April 3, 2020). “Using PPE”. CDC. Retrieved May 14, 2020.

6. ^ (April 3, 2020). “Recommendations for Cloth Face Covers”. CDC. Retrieved May 14, 2020

7. ^ (May 1, 2020). “Risk Management”. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 15, 2020.

8. ^ N van Doremalen, et al. Aerosol and surface stability of HCoV-19 (SARS-CoV-2) compared to SARS-CoV-1. The New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973 (2020).

9. ^ Kwok, Yen Lee Angela et al. “Face touching: a frequent habit that has implications for hand hygiene.American journal of infection control vol. 43,2 (2015): 112-4. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2014.10.015

10. ^ Spruce, L. (2017), Back to Basics: Sterile Technique. AORN Journal, 105: 478-487. doi:10.1016/j.aorn.2017.02.014

11.^ U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School Fort Sam Houston, Texas “Sterile Procedures”. Nursing411. Retrieved May 15, 2020.

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