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It’s a new year, and with it, flu season. Moreover, a new, more contagious variant of COVID-19 is spreading in the city. If someone in your family becomes ill in the coming weeks, it is imperative that you take steps to minimize the spread of germs. This includes reducing your own risk of infection.
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Staying healthy when you are living with someone who is sick is difficult, but it is possible if you take the proper precautions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends several preventive measures to stay safe while caring for the sick. Here’s what you can do at home to protect yourself.
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Get tested for COVID-19 at home if you have been exposed
The use of home tests is vital for monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in your household. While there are many different symptoms associated with COVID-19, a test is the only sure way to know if you or someone you live with is infected or not. These tests are easy to use and can provide accurate results in as little as 15 minutes. The CDC recommends that you get tested immediately if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or five days after exposure if you do not have symptoms. For peace of mind, it is also recommended to get tested as soon as possible before seeing someone who is immunocompromised and at risk of severe COVID-19.
$20 at Walmart $24 at CVS
Use a thermometer to check your fever
Fever (defined as a temperature of 100.4°F or higher) is a symptom common to COVID-19, influenza, and RSV. Thus, checking the temperature with a thermometer can be an important step in determining if someone is sick and in monitoring the progress of the disease. If a family member is showing signs of a fever, it may be time to limit contact with them. Vicks Speedread is a simple yet effective oral thermometer that is easy to clean.
$10 at Walmart
Wear an N95 or KN95 mask.
The home is usually one of the safest places to opt out of wearing a mask, but that all changes when a family member is sick. Wearing a mask when someone is sick is one way to minimize your chances of getting sick, though not guaranteed. KN95 masks filter 95% of air particles, including those responsible for the transmission of various diseases. While masks were once hard to find, they are widely available and are offered by many trusted retailers such as Bona Fide Masks.
$12 off bona fide masks
Sleep in another room
Isolation is one of the key strategies in controlling the spread of germs in the home. This means that if someone you share a bed or bedroom with gets sick, it’s best to limit contact until the infection clears up. It is best to provide them with a bedroom so that they can have privacy, both for their comfort and because it is usually not the central place for the rest of the family. If you find yourself without a bed, there is no need to resort to sleeping on the floor. You can use the best air mattress we have ever tested, the SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress. We love it because it is comfortable, durable and easy to store. Plus, having a good air mattress can come in handy long after your home is healthy again.
$150 on Amazon
Eat separately from a sick person
RSV, COVID-19, and influenza can be spread when an infected person’s saliva meets a healthy person, so it’s no surprise that food is a common way disease is spread. To reduce this risk, an ill member of your family should eat in the room they are quarantined in. To make their life less messy and a little more comfortable, we recommend purchasing a food tray for them. This will allow them to eat without getting out of bed without worrying about the mess. This tray from Home has thousands of 5-star reviews on Amazon and buyers love the durability and simplistic design.
$17 on Amazon
Purify the air at home
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that air purifiers can help reduce the transmission of airborne pollutants, such as those that cause transmission of COVID-19. Used in tandem with other mitigation methods, air purifiers are a good way to protect your family members from germs. We tested several air purifiers and found the Blueair DustMagnet 5410i to be the best. It removes particles exceptionally well and is one of the quietest cleaners we’ve tested. It also conveniently supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
$229 on Amazon
Wash your hands with soap and disinfectant
COVID-19, influenza, and RSV can be spread when infected particles come into contact with someone’s hands, which they then unintentionally touch to their eyes, nose, or mouth, drastically increasing the risk of infection. Therefore, it is very important to wash your hands frequently when dealing with a sick family member. To effectively kill germs, the CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for twenty seconds. Hand soap Meyer’s is a highly acclaimed hand soap made from natural ingredients that effectively cleanses your hands. If you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol will help too.
$14.48 at Amazon $32 at Amazon
Disinfect surfaces with wipes
Surfaces covered with infected droplets can also spread germs, although the CDC says the risk of transmission of COVID and flu is lower this way. However, it is understandable if you want to do your best to eliminate the risk of germs for your own peace of mind. To do this, we recommend using disinfectant wipes on frequently used surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, faucets and remote controls. Be sure to follow the directions on the label and leave the surface damp for the recommended amount of time to ensure proper disinfection.
$4.16 on Amazon
Bring relief with fabrics
Nasal congestion and runny nose are symptoms of COVID-19, RSV, and the flu, so no matter what specific illness you have at home, it’s a good idea to bring a box of tissues. You’ll want the sick person to blow their nose or sneeze into a tissue, not into the air or objects you might be handling. Our favorite wipes are Puffs Ultra Soft for their durability and most importantly, softness.
$18 on Amazon
Stay further away from the bodily fluids of a sick person by letting an isolated family member use their own wastebasket. It doesn’t have to be something particularly expensive or durable, as it will only be used temporarily. A small trash can, such as this one from Rubbermaid, will suffice. You can even just use a trash bag, like the Glad ForceFlexPlus Drawstring Tall Drawstring Kitchen Bags. They are durable, flexible and scented to hide the smell of debris.
$4.48 at Amazon $18.48 at Amazon
Boost your own immune system to fight disease
Another way to keep yourself healthy while caring for a sick person is to make sure your own immune system is strong enough to fight off any bacteria it may be exposed to. There are a number of ways to do this, such as drinking plenty of water, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep.
When it comes to healthy eating (or drinking), there are few tastier ways to do it than mixing delicious smoothies filled with tons of minerals and vitamins. The Cuisinart Hurricane CBT-1500P1 is the best blender we’ve tested due to its superior performance, fast blending and intuitive controls.
To make sure you are drinking enough water, we recommend using the Brita BB11 Premium Filter Water Bottle. It conveniently opens with one hand, keeps water cool for up to 24 hours, and filters out any unpleasant odors and tastes.
To get some sleep, no matter the time of day, consider using a sleep mask like the Mzoo Sleep Mask. It blocks out the light so you can sleep no matter how brightly lit the room is. Unlike other sleep masks, Mzoo does not press on the eyes, resulting in a more comfortable fit.
$200 at Amazon $41.24 at Amazon $17 at Amazon
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