5 ways to prepare your home and family for Coronavirus

Photo by Zhang Kenny

The major development this week is that the World Health Organization has officially declared the COVID-19 crisis a pandemic, and has called on all countries and their governments to pull out all stops to “detect, test, treat, isolate and mobilize their people in response” to the threat. It’s becoming undeniable that we all need to prepare ourselves for coronavirus becoming a bigger problem within our own communities.

That doesn’t mean panicking. The coronavirus only causes minor symptoms in more than 80 percent of people. But that doesn’t mean being apathetic either. The coronavirus is 20 times deadlier than the flu, and we need to recognize and respect that fact.

The question is: What should you do to prepare for coronavirus, so you’re ready if it becomes a bigger problem where you live?

Here are some tips that will have you ready if and when coronavirus strikes closer to home.

1. Stock up on food and medications:

Maybe you’ve already done this. Or maybe you think people stocking up on canned soup and bottled water are blowing things out of proportion. Here’s what the experts say: stocking up on non-perishable food is a good idea… and could help prevent coronavirus from spreading. Why? It allows for “social distancing,” a fancy term for avoiding areas with a lot of people. If the coronavirus becomes a bigger problem in your community, crowded grocery stores will be a high-risk place for picking up the virus. If you’re stocked up, you’re also prepared to stay home if you do get sick. That means you should get some of the foods and drinks you typically turn to when you’re sick, like chicken soup, broth, tea, crackers, bread, electrolyte drinks, etc.

If you take medications, you’ll also want to have a couple of weeks of supplies at home.

2. Be ready to clean:

The coronavirus lingers on surfaces. Researchers don’t know exactly how long, but you’ll want to be prepared to keep the surfaces in your house clean if the coronavirus becomes a problem where you live and especially if someone in your household is sick. If you want to play it super safe, get heavy-hitting cleaning supplies that contain bleach or alcohol. Both are proven to kill other coronaviruses. But experts say good old fashioned soap and water should work too. That’s because the virus has a lipid coating, and soap can break down lipids. If coronavirus becomes a bigger problem where you live, start cleaning frequently-touched surfaces a few times per day. And if someone in your house gets the virus, do it even more. Kitchen counters, bathroom faucets, doorknobs, and toilets are all things you’ll want to stay on top of.

3. Talk to your boss about work-from-home options:

If your area develops a more severe coronavirus outbreak, you’ll want to avoid public, crowded areas as much as possible. That may mean staying home much more than you’re used to — and possibly even staying home from work. If your job is one that could hypothetically be done remotely, talk to your boss about the potential of working from home if the coronavirus gets worse.

4. Know what to do if you feel under the weather:

With all the talk about coronavirus, coming down with a fever or cough may make you more worried than normal. So, you’ll probably be tempted to head straight to your doctor’s office or even the emergency room. Unless you’re having serious symptoms, like trouble breathing, experts recommend against that. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek medical assistance. You can call your doctor’s office first, tell them your symptoms and ask them what you should do. This simple step will help prevent the spread of the virus.

5. Make a plan for your kids and older loved ones:

When a local outbreak happens, there’s good chance schools and daycare centers could close, so have a childcare contingency plan in place. You’ll also want to have a plan in place in case an older loved one gets sick. The virus is more dangerous to older adults, and in some cases, your older relatives might not live nearby. Create a plan for providing quick care to your loved ones in the case that you can’t get there quickly. You’ll probably want to talk to friends and neighbors who can help in the case that happens.

If you take these precautions, you’ll probably feel less worried about the coronavirus. Being prepared is a good way to ease anxiety. Wash your hands frequently and wash for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing is one of the best ways to keep the virus from spreading.

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