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Essential Essentials for At-Home COVID-19 Care

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You consider yourself a pro as you’ve been hand washing, wearing a mask, and disinfecting your home for the past six months, but someone in your home has recently contracted COVID-19 or is showing symptoms. Now is when those skills really count.

Thankfully, up to 80% of coronavirus patients don’t spend time in the hospital and have symptoms that aren’t much worse than the average cold or flu. That means your family member has to quarantine and you’ve got to be the doctor and the nurse. Plan on stocking up on these essential supplies—and following these steps—to help your loved one recover.

Clean everything, all the time

Since you’ll have to wash your hands (and forearms, if contacted by your patient) multiple times a day, be kind to the environment and run water only to moisten your hands before you soap up and when you need to rinse. Not very earth friendly, but it’s best to dry off with paper towels to avoid reintroducing the virus on towels. In between handwashing, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.

Disinfect any surface family members come in contact with—faucets, door and drawer handles, light switches, TV remotes, countertops, appliances. You get the idea. To avoid damaging switches and electronics, clean with a wipe or spray the disinfectant onto a paper towel first.

Add layers of protection

Get ready to show off your favorite masks—at home. To avoid contracting COVID-19, you’ll need to wear a mask when you’re within six feet of each other and when you’re handling dirty dishes or laundry. Remember to wash reusable masks often and replace disposable masks after one use.

We also recommend wearing gloves when you have to handle anything your patient has touched. Plan on wearing gloves to do everything from laundry to cleanup, and keep those items separate from the rest of the family’s things. If you have a latex allergy, pick up nitrile rubber instead to avoid a reaction.

Handle trash with care

You don’t have to invest in a biohazard trashcan, but you should treat the sick person’s trash differently. Assign a trashcan for your family member’s garbage and tissues that is separate from the rest of the household. Use liners to make cleanup easier and more sanitary.

Make sure there’s medicine in the medicine cabinet

Stock up on acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen to help reduce fever—100.4°F or higher. Find the best option for your patient as everyone responds differently to these drugs, but make sure not to mix multiple fever reducers at once. Check with your doctor if there’s potential interaction with current prescription medications.

Check the numbers, twice

You don’t have to be a Nurse Ratched about it, but make sure you’re monitoring your family member’s temperature two times each day. Wait at least 30 minutes after your patient drinks, eats, or brushes their teeth in order to get a proper reading. Disinfect thermometers with rubbing alcohol and replace probe covers on oral or ear thermometers between uses.

For added peace of mind, you could purchase a pulse oximeter to measure two important vital signs: heart rate and oxygen saturation. A healthy person’s normal resting heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute and blood oxygen level should be greater than 95%. If this gadget isn’t in the budget, you can measure pulse manually. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds, then multiply this number by four to calculate the beats per minute.

The CDC recommends a person experiencing symptoms, diagnosed with the virus, or exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should self-isolate for two weeks. Follow these steps to keep yourself and your loved ones safe if someone at home falls into one of these categories. If you’re experiencing symptoms or have questions, please call the 24/7 coronavirus hotline, 317.325.COVD (2683) or visit our COVID-19 web page.

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