Why Should I Keep My Family Ready for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

People who are infected with coronavirus or are around someone who has it need to stay home to prevent spreading the virus.

When someone in the house is sick with COVID-19, everyone in the house must stay home for 1 to 2 weeks, depending on symptoms and COVID-19 test results. This is called quarantine or isolation. Keeping your household ready can reduce stress in case that happens.

What Do We Need to Be Ready to Quarantine?

It's best to prepare before someone in your house gets sick. Here are some ways to stock up at home and be ready:

  • Food and water. Choose food that doesn't need to be in the refrigerator and can stay good on the shelf for a long time. Buy canned foods and juices, rice, dried beans, granola bars, peanut butter, and dry cereal. Get baby foods, if needed. If you have pets, stock up on what they need.
  • Foods your family likes when sick. These might include things like soup, crackers, and fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Household supplies. Don't forget toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, toothpaste, and dish soap.
  • Medicines. Make sure prescriptions are filled and on hand. Get over-the-counter (nonprescription) fever reducers. Your doctor can advise you on how to use them.
  • A thermometer. Depending on your child's age, you might need a digital thermometer, temporal artery thermometer, or electronic ear (tympanic) thermometer.
  • Cleaning supplies. If someone is sick, regularly wipe down things that get touched a lot (like doorknobs, cellphones, and handles).
  • Plenty of hand soap. Using soap and water to wash hands when staying home is best. You can use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available. Safely store hand sanitizer and cleaning products out of reach of the kids.
  • Masks. Masks are important for going out. But they can also help stop the spread of COVID-19 at home. Indoors, anyone over 2 years old who is sick should wear a mask when around others to prevent spreading the virus. Other household members should wear a mask when around the sick person.

    Children under 2 years old and people who have trouble breathing should not wear a mask.

For more information on quarantine and isolation, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

What Else Should I Know?

If you aren't quarantining and need essential items, keep these tips in mind:

  • Try to go to stores during off hours when they might not be as crowded.
  • Wash your hands before and after going out.
  • Wear a mask in public.
  • Use online shopping with delivery or pick-up where available to limit the time you are in stores. Experts say to wipe down delivery boxes or open them outside if possible, and then wash your hands.
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.