From what to stock up on to how to clean your home, here's how to make sure you and your family are ready for a possible outbreak of coronavirus.

By Kelly Vaughan
February 28, 2020

While the United States has yet to experience an outbreak of coronavirus, medical professionals are issuing health warnings and advice on how individuals can prepare at home. "Follow the normal procedures that you would for treating a common cold or respiratory diseases, such as cleaning your home with disinfectant wipes and frequent hand washing," says Dr. David Banach, Infectious Disease Doctor and Hospital Epidemiologist at UConn Health. Ahead, learn how to stock your pantry and clean your home in the event of an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with our expert-approved tips. But whatever you do, don't panic. "People don't need to panic, but they just need to be realistic about their day to day life and their community," says Dr. Alok Patel, a New York City-based pediatrician.

Related: Surgical Masks Are Selling Out, But Are They Actually Helpful in Preventing the Coronavirus?

Fill Your Pantry

Should the coronavirus spread throughout the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will likely warn people to stay at home in order to avoid exposure to the disease. "We don't know how coronavirus is going to spread across the country so families should be prepared in the event that they're asked to work from home or their children's school or daycares close for concern," Dr. Alok says.

Do your grocery shopping now, which will give you peace of mind in the event that you're unable to leave home due to an outbreak. Stock up on dried food such as pasta, grains, and legumes that have a long shelf-life and offer versatility for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Other essential ingredients include canned goods such as beans, whole peeled tomatoes, soup, and evaporated milk; hot and cold cereal; and frozen fruits and vegetables. Chicken or vegetable stock, as well as bone broth, not only provide a delicious base for homemade soups, stews, and risotto, but can be soothing for anyone with a cold.

Related: Why Do We Get Sick When the Weather Changes?

Keeping a Clean Home

In order to keep yourself and your home germ-free, make sure that you have a full supply of disinfectant wipes, hand soap, and hand sanitizer. The CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. "Hand washing is really critical and is your best defense against spreading anything. Soap and water works best, or hand sanitizers when soap and water is not available," says Dr. Banach.

Additionally, stock up on three to six months of prescription or daily medication in case you're unable to make it to a doctor's office or pharmacy.

Related: How to Wash Your Hands Properly, According to a Doctor

How to Treat Coronavirus

While doctors aren't exactly clear on how to treat coronavirus, most existing cases resemble a common cold or flu. Symptoms of coronavirus include coughing, fever, and difficulty breathing. The CDC recommends following normal preventative measures to avoid catching coronavirus from other individuals who are affected. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, staying home if you are sick, and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue then immediately dispose of the tissue. If you believe that you have coronavirus disease, seek the assistance of a healthcare provider immediately.

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Comments (3)

Anonymous
March 1, 2020
This was full of common sense, but didn't give us any new information.
Anonymous
March 1, 2020
Heehee, that comment by Brittany made me chuckle (which is no easy task while on the NYC subway).
Anonymous
February 29, 2020
Martha Stewart's Preparing Your Home for a Pandemic should be an Onion article.