How To Help Protect Yourself If Someone In Your House Gets Sick

Outside of the home, you may be practicing social distancing. However, unless you live alone, inside the home, social distancing may not be possible. Before someone gets sick in your household, it’s best to organize your home to prepare for potential exposure. Here’s what you can do to protect you and your family and stop coronavirus from spreading further.

Most who become sick will recoup at home

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, schools and nonessential businesses remain closed, and gatherings are prohibited. However, there are still essential businesses that remain open such as grocery and drug stores. Open businesses mean there’s still a potential for the virus to spread, particularly if social distancing is not practiced. So, with most of us staying home, we may find ourselves forced to spend time in close quarters with someone who has been exposed. Now what?

Most people who get sick with coronavirus will experience only mild to moderate respiratory issues and should recover at home, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Homecare can help stop the virus from spreading and help protect those with a higher risk of getting very ill. Of course, older people and anyone with underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more susceptible to becoming seriously ill. To protect yourself and other family members from getting sick, precautions need to be taken.

Organize your home before someone gets sick

Stay up-to-date on the pandemic by keeping track of local COVID-19 activity from public health officials. Create a contact list and post it on the fridge for emergencies, include: 

  • Health care services
  • Local public health department
  • Local organizations
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Community resources

Just because someone has been exposed to coronavirus does not mean that they will necessarily get sick. Self-quarantine is in place to keep those potentially exposed to the virus away from people — so the virus doesn’t further spread. However, as of today, most people have voluntarily self-quarantined in their homes. So, we need to take precautions within the household should someone show symptoms.

Dedicate a separate room and bathroom for the sick person

Choose a dedicated room in your house that can be used for a sick family member. Preferably, that room should have its own bathroom. Bathrooms are a hospitable environment for coronaviruses. So, if someone in your home is ill, it’s strongly advised against sharing the same bathroom. 

If you do share a bathroom, ensure extra precautions are taken to clean and disinfect surfaces and toilets throughout the day. Additionally, set separate towels aside for the sick individual. In fact, Avoid sharing any personal household items, like dishes, towels, and bedding.

Practice social distancing

Stay at least three feet away from the individual who is sick, especially if they are coughing or sneezing. When someone coughs or sneezes, small droplets spray from the nose or mouth. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets containing the virus, suggests WHO.

Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth

Throughout the day, your hands touch all kinds of surfaces where the virus may live. Once your hands have been contaminated, you can transfer the virus to openings on your face where the virus can enter your body.   

Wash your hands regularly

Wash your hands often with soap and water. Experts say washing for a minimum of 20 seconds, is necessary, particularly after close association with the sick person. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer over your entire hands. Make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Use hygiene when sneezing

Make sure you and the people around you follow good respiratory hygiene when sneezing or coughing. It’s good practice to cover the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of the used tissue ASAP.

What about face masks?

If facemasks are available, have the infected person wear a facemask when they are around you or others. However, if the infected person cannot wear a facemask, you should wear one while you are in the same room or caring for them.

Disinfect your home daily

Clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces daily. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine studied the coronavirus on plastic, stainless steel, copper, cardboard, and aerosol transmission.  Coronavirus can live in the air for up to three hours. On plastic and stainless steel, the virus can live up to 72 hours. On copper surfaces, the virus can live up to eight hours. On cardboard, the virus lived up to 24 hours. 

The CDC recommends that during this outbreak, you should clean and disinfect these commonly touched areas in your home daily:

  • Doorknobs and light switches
  • Landline phones and cell phones
  • Keyboards and toys
  • Faucets and toilets
  • Tabletops and countertops

Will you be OK if you are young and healthy?

Unfortunately, for some, COVID-19 knows no age limit. The virus is capable of infecting people of all ages, suggests Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit. “The data that we’ve seen from a number of countries is that the majority of children that are infected are experiencing mild disease.” Fifteen percent of people in intensive care units in Italy were under the age of 50 years. And in the state of New York, where a high number of U.S. cases are located, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said that roughly half of those hospitalized were between the ages of 18 and 49.

What if you have a compromised immune system?

If you have a compromised immune system, you need to act like you are at risk of getting COVID-19. Maintain a six-foot separation from any other members of the household as much as you can. When your immune system is compromised, you should stay home and allow other members of the household to pick groceries, food, prescriptions, and run any errands.

In these stressful times, keep organized and focused. Remember, prevention is not a cure. However, it may significantly reduce your chances of contracting the dreaded coronavirus.

Disclaimer: “None of this has been proven to prevent, treat or remedy COVID-19, these are just things to consider.”

-The UpWellness Team