Rapid COVID-19 tests from the US Government are starting to arrive in the mail, and it is important to follow the recommended tips to storing the tests properly.
Experts says that if you store the tests in a part of your home that is either too cold or too warm, the test results may not be reliable.
The following are some recommendations and tips to storing and taking the tests to get the most accurate results possible.
Bring the Tests Inside As Quickly As Possible
There is a concern that exposure to extreme hot or cold temperatures may affect the accuracy of home COVID-19 rapid tests.
After exposure to very hot temperatures, components of the reagent chemicals may be permanently damaged and impact the sensitivity of the test.
On the opposite spectrum, in colder temperatures, the test may still be usable as long as the liquids in the test kit don’t freeze. Results have shown if the tests are warmed back up to room temperature, the tests do seem to work quite as well.
Tests storage temperatures are recommended between 35 and 86 degrees.
If you ordered a test online, it is recommended that you bring them inside your home as quickly as soon as you can, rather than letting the delivery sit outside baking in the sun or in freezing conditions. In addition, if you were lucky enough to find one at a store, it is not recommended to leave the box outside in your car.
Where to Store Tests Inside Your House
With the knowledge that that temperature may reduce test accuracy, be mindful as to where you store the COVID-19 rapid tests inside your home.
Experts recommend storing them in a dry, room-temperature location.
Avoid storing the tests in an area of your house that isn’t temperature-controlled, such as an unheated garage or basement. Bathroom cabinets can experiences changes in temperature with warming up due to a steamy shower or humidity in the room. Avoiding areas in the kitchen such as a counter or cabinet that is exposed to the heat from an oven is also recommended.
Is Your Test Kit Damaged?
You received a test kit to have on hand in case you need it. It is recommended that you check your test kit for damage. Did the box sustain any damage during shipping?
Check to see if any of the test components leaked. If so, you should not use the test.
In addition, if any of the components of the test kit are unwrapped, torn or wet, dispose of the test and do not use.
Read the Instructions Thoroughly
After two years, you may have taken a few tests already, but do not get too complacent. Not all rapid tests work the same. Read the box carefully when you receive it for the exact storage guidelines.
If you need to take the test, take your time in reading the instructions carefully, following each step. It can be cumbersome and paying full attention to each step and detail is important. Avoid being distracted during the process.
Reading Your Results
Experts warn that one of the most common mistake is not reading the results within the appropriate time frame.
For example, if your test instructions tell you to wait 15 to 30 minutes, you should review the results that appear within that specific time frame only to be accurate.
Reading the results too soon may turn up a false-negative result because the test didn’t have the full proper time to process. Reading the results too late may also produce a false-positive result. Stick to what the boxed instructions explain for the proper time frame of reviewing the results.
It is also important to note that at home tests are not perfect and can produce incorrect results. Doctors urge that if you continue to have consistent symptoms and especially if you have been in high-risk situations, it is recommended that you get a PCR test.