As the world braces for the novel coronavirus to spread further, many are wondering what people can do to prepare for a COVID-19 pandemic at home.
Having a pandemic preparedness kit is probably a good idea. The supplies can come in handy even if the only thing going around is a particularly strong strain of the flu.
There are some basic things that you should have ready if a virus is likely to hit your community soon.
Stock up on two weeks worth of water — 2 litres per person per day — and non-perishable food, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggests. It’s good to make sure you have two weeks worth of any prescription drugs you may need, as well as over-the-counter medication you will want to have with you in case you get sick like painkillers, fever-suppressors, cough syrup, and products that can settle your stomach. Other supplies like tissues, vitamins and fluids that will replenish your body with electrolytes are also recommended. Ontario’s health ministry also recommends these items, but suggests having hand sanitizer with a 60 to 90 per cent alcohol content in your kit, too, along with a thermometer.
The goal is to not leave the house during the disease’s incubation period or if you are contagious, so if there are other things you’ll need for your household over the course of two weeks of isolation — toilet paper, personal hygiene items, diapers and baby formula or pet food — stockpiling those items is a good step, too.
“It’s really about, first of all, making sure that you do have enough supplies so if someone in your family becomes ill, if you yourself become ill, that you have what you need to survive for a week or so without going outside,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Wednesday.
Canada’s deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo told the House of Commons health committee Thursday that it will take more than the health system to curb the spread of the COVID-19 if it hits Canada.
“The time has come for all Canadians to think more about the need to prepare resources to manage a widespread community outbreak.”
While many purported pandemic kits being sold online include anti-viral facemasks, N-95 respirator masks, gloves, goggles and water purification tablets, these items are unnecessary. A facemask doesn’t really protect a healthy person, and should only be worn by a sick person as recommended by their doctor. Buying facemasks and N-95 masks unnecessarily has already led to shortages for people who need them most, including the ill and frontline health-care workers.
It’s also a good idea to have easy access to copies of your health records and prescriptions in case you need them. These can be helpful for personal knowledge, but will also be useful if you’re feeling ill and need to remotely contact your health care provider or Telehealth.
If you decide to keep your kit after the coronavirus spread slows and/or stops, ensure it stays up to date by replacing medicine or other items that expire. If you want to make sure it’s a full-blown emergency preparedness kit that will get you through more than just a medical situation, Public Safety Canada has an emergency preparedness checklist that will bulk up your kit with everything you need.
With a file from the Canadian Press