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Despite taking the necessary precautions—social distancing, washing hands, wearing a mask in public—there's still a risk that you or a family member could contract COVID-19. With coronavirus cases on the rise across the country after Americans traveled for the holidays, it's more important than ever to be prepared if someone you live with gets sick.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that most people who contract COVID-19 will only have a mild case and can probably recover at home, there are necessary precautions to take to prevent the spread of the virus in your household. This includes having a designated sick room and bathroom as well as a designated person to care for those who are sick. It's also necessary to disinfect surfaces regularly and for everyone to wash their hands frequently.
The CDC also recommends keeping those with an increased risk for severe illness separate, and if someone's coronavirus symptoms worsen or they have trouble breathing to get them medical attention immediately.
Hopefully, no one in your household contracts the coronavirus, but it's always best to prepare for the worst. Here are all the things you should have on hand if you or a family member gets COVID-19, as recommended by the CDC.
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1. Hand soap
Washing your hands is one of the best ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to the CDC, and should be done frequently. That means lathering up every time before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, after leaving a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after handling your mask, and after caring for someone sick. So if you don't have a good stock of hand soap, it might be good to get some more, just in case. The American Red Cross also recommends that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in order to effectively clean them.
2. Disinfecting wipes and spray
If someone in your household is sick, the CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as much as possible, especially if the infected person touched something. This includes frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Cleaning wipes and spray are still hard to find, but are still essential for sanitation. While Lysol products were specifically approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for protecting against coronavirus, make sure you have something to disinfect your home with.
3. Hand sanitizer
While washing your hands is the most effective thing for preventing the spread of COVID-19, if you don't have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good second choice. Just be sure it contains at least 60% alcohol content, so you can properly sanitize your hards, according to the CDC. Earlier this year we saw a massive hand sanitizer shortage, so it might be a good idea to get a spare bottle now.
A fever is one of the first symptoms of COVID-19, according to the CDC, so you're going to need a thermometer to monitor your family member's illness and to see if anyone else contracted the virus. At the start of the pandemic, thermometers were incredibly difficult to find online and in-stores. While there are plenty of thermometers in stock right now, it's a good idea to get one now if you don't already have one, just in case.
5. Trash bags
You should throw away most disposable items that could have come in contact with the coronavirus like tissues, disposable gloves, disposable masks, and so on. Additionally, the CDC recommends having a designated lined trash bag for anyone impacted by coronavirus as well as using gloves to remove said bags. So it's safe to say you might need some extra trash bags. The Glad ForceFlexPlus bags are the best trash bags we’ve ever tested because of their superior strength and odor-blocking material.
Although the major symptoms of coronavirus include a dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC, it's always a good idea to have an extra box of tissues lying around to cover any sneezes or coughs. You can also use tissues as a barrier between you and surfaces that could have the coronavirus like doorknobs. After testing nine different boxes (and blowing many noses), we found that Puffs Ultra Soft tissues are the best tissues and won't irritate your nose. Be sure to have an extra box lying around.
7. Face masks
While most people don't wear face masks in the comfort of their own home, if someone in your household has COVID-19, they're essential. Not only do face masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but they also protect the wearer from the virus, according to the CDC. You should wear one when in close contact with an infected family member.
After testing a variety of face masks for comfort and protection, our experts found that the Athleta Non Medical Face Masks to be the best. Each one is triple-layered and comes with an adjustable nose piece and ear loops, and we found them to be comfortable and breathable, too. For a more affordable option, the Old Navy Triple-Layer Cloth Face Mask is our best value pick and only cost $12.50 for a pack of five.
You also might consider using disposable masks if someone in your family has the coronavirus. That way they can toss them out after each use. This 50 pack of disposable face masks from Bigox on Amazon has a 4.5-star rating from over 11,000 reviews and is a great option.
8. Disposable gloves
The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves when disinfecting surfaces, handling items that could have come in contact with the coronavirus like trash bags and tissues, and caring for someone who is sick. Gloves should be immediately discarded after use and you should wash your hands after removing them. The Venom Steel Rip Resistant Industrial Gloves that we rated to be the best on the market for comfort and durability when testing disposable gloves, but there are other great options to use as well.
9. Humidifiers and air purifiers
According to the CDC, humidifiers can help ease some of the symptoms of the coronavirus like cough and sore throat. So it might be helpful to have one if a family member is recovering from the virus. The Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier is the best humidifier we've ever tested. It can run for about 10 hours on the medium setting, and it was able to bring our testing chamber to 80 percent relative humidity. Plus, it comes with a medicine exhaust for some extra relief.
Air purifiers could help prevent other family members from contracting COVID-19, especially if your space isn't well-ventilated, by filtering out airborne pathogens. Though it's not guaranteed to prevent exposure to the virus, it can help reduce airborne transmissions when used with other sanitation best practices like hand washing and disinfecting. The Winix 5500-2 is the best air purifier we've ever tested, as its filers are easy to change and it has the capacity to filter out 99.97% of pathogens as small as 0.3 microns.
10. Pulse oximeters
To help monitor your family member who has COVID-19, you might want to consider getting a pulse oximeter. These medical devices attach to the finger to measure oxygen saturation in the blood, which experts believe can be a gauge for reduced lung capacity, a common symptom of the coronavirus. Oxygen saturation below 90 percent is considered hypoxic, according to the Mayo Clinic, meaning there is a lower level of oxygen than is needed in the blood and could be a sign to take your loved one for medical attention. Though it's not necessary for everyone, it could help give you peace of mind.
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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: 10 things you need at home in case a family member gets COVID-19