This post was written by Liz Faria from A Mothership Down. Liz is a new Mommy Shorts contributor and would normally not make her blog debut with a list of Coronavirus precautions, but here we are! Crazy times we are living in. And yes, I stocked up on frozen foods and Clorox wipes too.
Here’s the good news— the Coronavirus seems less likely to affect kids, which I know is our biggest concern as parents. It also seems to be more of a threat for smokers, who already have their respiratory systems compromised, so unless your 5yo is smoking a pack a day while you’re in the shower, that’s probably a weight off your mind too.
I’ve spoken with several of my own friends who are doctors, and they don’t seem overly alarmed by the illness, which I find somewhat comforting!
That being said, my dad, who is not AT ALL an alarmist by nature, did a mini version of doomsday prepping over the weekend. Okay, not doomsday prepping exactly, but he did make a run for supplies in case it becomes advisable to hunker down for any extended amount of time. That seems to be the main source of panic. Even if you are not worried about contracting the virus, people are wondering what to do should schools or public transportation close. How long can you survive at home with your kids with whatever food you have in your pantry???
This made me think, if my Dad, of all people, is stocking up, I might want to do a little prep myself.
Now, I see lots of people talking about stockpiling water. This is not a natural disaster! Your tap water will still be fine. If you are trying to prep for an extended period at home, I would focus on frozen foods, canned goods, dry goods (cereal, pasta) and cleaning supplies. Wipes especially!
This morning an email was forwarded to me from James Robb, MD. Robb is a molecular virologist from UC San Diego who’s worked with this virus for almost 50 years. In his estimation, the next few weeks of the illness will be significant.
Dr. Robb offered up some of the best common sense tips I’ve seen so far— many of which are the same tips that apply to flu season.
I will admit that several of these things I hadn’t even thought about! Like, it isn’t very wise to be touching all the buttons on an elevator right now, and yet, at the pediatrician’s office, of all places, my kids are touching EVERY BUTTON. I should add that, like many parents in recent weeks, we have been to the doctor’s office multiple times.
So yeah, there are some improvements I should make to keep everyone in my family healthy.
Dr. Robb believes the spread of coronavirus in the US is probable (although we are lacking enough data to say for sure) and will hit us hardest in mid-to-late March and April. He says the virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT if someone sneezes or coughs directly in your face, you can be infected. Also, all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average, so everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. If you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your nose or mouth with your hands, you can potentially be exposed and infect your lungs, which is where the virus lives.
Below are Dr. Robb’s recommended precautions (I added my own comments in italics):
1) DO NOT SHAKE HANDS! An elbow bump or a wave will do.
2) Avoid touching light switches, elevator buttons, etc. directly with your hands. Use your knuckles instead.
3) When pumping gas, use a paper towel or disposable glove (or, I’ll add, go to a full service station!)
4) Open doors with a closed fist or your hip – particularly for public bathrooms (stores, offices, etc.) Avoid grasping the handle directly with your hand if at all possible.
5) Disinfectant wipes can be used at stores when possible. (Parents, this is especially useful if you have a child in the cart at the grocery store).
6) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds (have kids sing the ABC song) and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been. It’s important to note that hand sanitizer must be 60% alcohol-based or greater in order for it to be effective.
7) Have hand sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
8) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if necessary. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more! (Note: This was news to me! I had no idea the virus could linger that long on clothing. This also made me think that if you use a cart cover at the store with your child, you should wash it after your trip).
Items to consider stocking in prep for a pandemic spread in the US:
1) Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves. These are useful when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas.
2) Alcohol based hand sanitizers. The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective. (Note: most stores are selling out of hand sanitizer. Here is a DIY recipe for hand sanitizer if you’re in a pinch).
3) Zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.
4) Disinfecting Wipes. I recommend getting disinfectant wipes to keep germs from spreading in your home and portable wipes to wipe down things like shopping cart handles, plane consoles, and any other unavoidable public surface.
I hope this information is helpful! I am not freaking out about this, but with three kids at home I do want to be prepared. Now, how you’re going to entertain your kids and not lose your mind if you do become housebound – well, that’s a post for another day.