How to Estimate the 6 Feet Required for Physical Distance

By now, we have been keeping 6 feet away from other people (or at least instructed to do so) for almost a year. Some people, like me, are not very good at judging distances or other spatial relationships. My solution was to stay away from other people so that it couldn’t be less than six feet – even if that means being pushed against a building while people pass until I find what I think is safe. opening in pedestrian traffic. (Don’t worry: this is not hacking.) In fact, the hacking comes from NPR. Here’s what you need to know.

Why is 6 feet required for physical distance?

This particular distance was chosen after many years of research , some of which date back to the late 19th century. This is the estimated distance that infectious droplets can travel through the air after sneezing, coughing, or screaming before falling to the ground,Dr. Abraar Karan , a physician at Harvard Medical School, told NPR.

But keep in mind that “droplets” and “aerosols” are not the same thing. Aerosols are smaller and released when we exhale – another way SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted . And these aerosols can travel more than 6 feet (another reason why wearing a mask is so important for sick and healthy people alike).

How to estimate 6 feet

Luckily, Mark Silver, editor of the NPR vertical for Goats and Soda, has a simple trick that can help: he plays himself on the ground. As a 5’8 ” man, Silver adds a few extra inches to his estimate, as he demonstrates in this video, where he is pictured alongside an animated Michael Jordan:

He also has a different strategy – this time related to your wingspan :

Another good tip to keep this 6 feet apart is – think about wingspan – the distance from fingertip to fingertip with arms outstretched. If you hold out one hand, and the person you are with holds out one hand, that roughly matches your height – so six feet give or take, depending on your height. If you want to estimate the distance, stretch out your hand, ask your interlocutor to do the same and adapt accordingly to your height.

Silver writes that if you find yourself in a situation where it is obvious that someone is less than 6 feet away from you and there is no way to avoid them, turn your head away from the person to avoid droplets and aerosols.


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