Pandemic Preparedness: What my household can do to prepare for COVID-19

As we mentioned in the update above, COVID-19 cases in Arizona are continuing to rise. This means that it is essential to take daily precautions to reduce your likelihood of contracting and spreading COVID-19 including practicing proper hand hygiene, sanitizing and disinfecting, wearing cloth face coverings, and avoiding unnecessary outings. However, in addition to taking these everyday steps to help stop the spread, it is very important to be prepared in the event that you or someone in your household has COVID-19. Preparing in advance will not only lessen the burden and stress if there is a virus case in your home, but doing so will also reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus to individuals both inside and outside of the home. Follow these steps to ensure that you are prepared:

How to prepare for COVID-19 in advance:
✓ IDENTIFY PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP TRANSPORT ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO YOUR HOME
– Connect over the phone, online, or at appropriate physical distance with friends or neighbors outside of the home who can assist with essential needs such as groceries, medications, and disinfecting supplies while you are quarantined (which should last 10 days after you tested positive or begun showing symptoms). Make sure to discuss how you will pay back the person who is transporting your essential items and if possible use touch-less payment such as “Venmo” or “Cash App”.

– You may begin a “phone tree” to share contact information with a network of people to let others know that you are willing to help each other in the event that they themselves, or someone in their home develops COVID-19. Contacting your neighbors to create a neighborhood plan is also a good idea. 

✓ DEVELOP AN EMERGENCY CONTACT LIST
– Develop an emergency contact list that includes phone numbers for your family doctor, nearby emergency room, as well as insurance numbers and other important identifiers. The list should be located in an area that everyone in the home can access (e.g., the refrigerator or other neutral location).
✓ DESIGNATE AREAS IN HOME FOR SICK MEMBERS
– If possible, choose a room, along with a separate bathroom in the home where sick members of the household can be kept separate from healthy members. These areas should be regularly disinfected.

– Healthy individuals should limit cleaning in the designated “sick areas” to avoid exposure. The sick individual(s) should clean and disinfect their spaces if they are able to and if it is appropriate for them to do so (i.e. if young children are ill, they should not use chemicals).

– Make a plan for what household items and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. High touch surfaces should be cleaned 2-3 times as frequently as other, less used areas.

✓ HAVE CERTAIN ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES ON HAND
– If you take daily medications, make sure to have a few weeks supply of them, if possible.

– Also have at least a few weeks supply of personal care items, including laundry detergent, toothpaste, hand soap, trash bags, dish detergent, shampoo, etc. –

– Avoid sharing personal items with sick individuals.
Make sure to have disinfecting supplies if it is available to you, such as sanitizing wipes and hand soap. 

– Have enough cloth face coverings for every member of the home. 

✓ WATCH FOR COVID-19 SYMPTOMS AND EMERGENCY WARNING SIGNS
– Covid-19 Symptoms include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea

– COVID-19 Emergency Warning Signs include: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face. Designate someone to call 911 in the event that someone in the household is experiencing these serious symptoms.

✓ HAVE A PLAN IN PLACE FOR CAREGIVING 
   Pets: 
– Identify someone outside of the home to take care of your pet in the event that members of the home become too ill to do so. Although it is rare, some animals have tested positive for COVID-19; therefore, sick individuals should limit contact with pets.

   Elders:
– As those over the age of 65 are a high risk group for COVID-19, avoid any contact with this population if you or others around you are feeling sick. If you are a caretaker, make sure to identify someone outside of the home that is able to take on the task (including supplying essential goods such as groceries, medications, and personal care items) in the event that members of the household become ill.

   Children:
– Identify someone outside of the home to caretake for your children in the event that members of the home become too ill to do so.

✓ PRIORITIZE MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
– These circumstances can be confusing and stressful. It is important to have family discussions about COVID-19 and emphasize that these precautions are to keep everyone in the family safe. Visit this link to view a toolkit for parents and teachers on how to communicate to children about COVID-19 developed by researchers at the University of Arizona.

IF YOU LIVE ALONE
– Find a COVID-19 network of people – at least 1-2 whom you can have check on you on a daily basis if you become ill. It is absolutely critical that someone does regular check-ins with you while you are ill as COVID-19 symptoms can progress quickly. 

– Also prepare a kit for yourself that you keep near your bed including a thermometer, pulse oximeter, or other medical equipment that is recommended by a doctor (if you are at high risk for complications). 

For recommendations on what to do in the event. For recommendations on what to do in the event someone in the home develops COVID-19, visit this link.

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