How to Prepare For a Self Quarantine
The coronavirus that began in mainland China has now been detected in almost seventy locations across the globe, including the United States. The virus has continued to spread at an alarming rate, and the International Health Regulations Committee of the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 to be a “public health emergency of international concern” on January 30, 2020.
The United States quickly followed suit and declared the outbreak a “public health emergency” within the country on January 31.
As of March 4th, there are eighty known cases of the virus in the United States, which has resulted in nine deaths . At the moment, most citizens of the United States do not have an immediate risk of contracting the virus, since it is not yet spreading widely throughout the country.
The global situation, however, is very serious, and it is likely that the outbreak will become a pandemic, considering how quickly the situation is progressing. There have already been several communities in mainland China that have been put under mandatory lock-downs and quarantines, however governments and health officials around the world are now preparing for the worst.
As the window to contain the virus is closing, health officials are shifting their focus toward managing it’s spread and advising the general population to be prepared with enough in-home supplies in the event that their home needs to be put under quarantine.
What is Quarantine?
Someone may be placed under quarantine if they have been exposed to an infectious disease, even if they are not ill. This means that they have to remain at home or in another location, and are not allowed to leave in order to contain the spread of the disease.
Typically when someone is quarantined, they are required to take their own temperature and report to health officials about their own health status. They are also usually told what they can and cannot do around family members, and the specifics of their quarantine may vary depending on the disease in question.
Quarantine is different from isolation, which is when a sick person with a contagious disease is separated from those who are not ill.
How to Prepare for a Quarantine
Although the current risk to Americans for contracting the coronavirus is still considered low, health officials are asking the public to be prepared in case you and your family are placed under quarantine.
During that time you will not be able to leave your home, and so it is important that you have enough supplies to last you and your family for several days, potentially even weeks.
To prepare for possible quarantine, the most basic items with which you should be well-stocked are, of course, food and water. When choosing food items to stock your “quarantine pantry”, you want to focus on things that won’t spoil quickly. MORE……
Oats, lentils, beans, white rice (brown rice spoils quicker), salt, powdered milk, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, canned meats and fish, sugar, honey, powdered eggs, jams and jellies, peanut butter, and dried potato flakes are all good examples of foods that have a long shelf-life.
Foods that can last a long time are important because it is difficult to determine exactly how long you will be under quarantine. Fresh foods may only last a week or two in your fridge or pantry, so anything that is dried or in air-tight packaging will last longer in case you are under lock-down for several weeks.
If you or anyone in your family requires specific medications or supplements, you should make sure you have a fairly large stock of those as well.
Essential Non-Food Items
Items such as soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bleach, black trash bags (the really heavy-duty contractor bags), rubber gloves, N-95 face masks, medical quality disinfecting wipes, and medical disinfectant spray are all important to have on hand during a medical quarantine.
It is a good idea as well to have an official quarantine sign to place outside your home. Even if no one in your family is sick, during an official pandemic you should keep your family inside to avoid contact with the virus, and a sign will ensure that others know to stay out.
If someone in your home is ill, it is important that you have the necessary medical supplies on hand, since you may not be able to get out to a doctor or even a pharmacy. Necessary items include one or two thermometers, pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, and electrolyte drinks or electrolyte powder.
Having a humidifier in the house is also beneficial, particularly if the illness is affecting the upper respiratory system, as well as decongestants and boxes of tissues. You should also stock up on any other remedies that you find helpful for respiratory infections.
Be sure to consider the specific needs of you and your family, since it is unlikely that you will be able to get to a pharmacy during the quarantine. If anyone in your household requires special items like inhalers or prescription drugs, you should ensure you have an adequate backup of these in case you are quarantined for a prolonged period of time.
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These are of particular importance if someone in your household is sick. Keeping your space as clean as possible, and preventing/avoiding contact with pathogens is imperative if you want to prevent the illness from spreading to other members of your household.
If the illness is very severe, you may need items like contractor-grade bags or biohazard bags to hold refuse, sickness bags (aka barf bags), and even gauze. Rubber gloves, goggles, and even disposable Tyvek suits and a biohazard cleanup kit may be necessary to protect yourself from the spread of disease.
The Basic Rules of a Quarantine
Anything that is used by the sick person, including clothing, towels, and sheets, should also be quarantined and kept away from other members of the household. They should be washed separately and thrown away once the sick person has recovered. This holds true for any other items used by the sick person, including cups, bowls, and silverware.
Here are the basic rules of a quarantine:
Wash hands after every time anyone uses the restroom.
Immediately dispose of used tissues in a biohazard container
Stay away from the “sick room” without specific instructions on how and when to enter.
Wear protective clothing, including goggles and a face mask around the sick person.
How to Stay Sane During a Quarantine
If your home is placed under quarantine, it is likely that you have more than one person in your household. You will all be in very close quarters for the length of the lock-down, and so it is important to be prepared with ways to help everyone cope with the situation.
Be sure you are well-stocked with movies, books, and even school workbooks if you have children in your house. Puzzles, board games, and coloring books are other great ways to pass the time.
Having indoor exercise equipment will also help you to expend some energy while you are cooped up inside, which will help keep everyone’s emotions at ease.
It Pays to be Prepared
Although the situation in North America has not yet hit critical levels, it is incredibly important to be prepared for the worst. It is a good idea to begin stocking up on necessary items now in case of an emergency.
A good way to do this is by adding a few extra items to your grocery list each time you go shopping and storing them away in case they are needed. It may seem like an over-reaction, but if the coronavirus continues to spread, quarantine could become a reality for many Americans, and being prepared could make an extremely difficult situation more bearable at the very least.