Staying safe from the coronavirus (COVID-19)

by Dr. Lyndsey Garbi | March 4, 2020

As a parent of two little children myself, I share a lot of the same concerns that most parents do about the corona virus. There is so much happening that is out of our control, but at the same time there are things we can do within our control to prepare. The Center for Disease Control (CDC)  has some great tips I’d like to share with you:

First and foremost: practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions! These are tips you should be using on a regular basis anyway, especially during flu season, but can be even more vigilant about now:

    1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    2. Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
    3. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
    4. Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily 
    5. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Important tip: Wash for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

It is very likely our daily routines will be disturbed so start to prepare for the kids to be home. How do you do this?  Talk to your child’s school or child care facility. Likely, they are in preparation mode and have plans of action should local public health officials recommend temporary school dismissals to help slow the spread of illness. School authorities also may decide to dismiss a school if too many students or staff are absent. If applicable, makes sure you understand the plan for continuing education and social services (such as student meal programs) during school dismissals. If your child attends a college or university, encourage them to learn about the school’s plan for a COVID-19 outbreak.

If there is an outbreak in your community, prepare to protect yourself and others. Stay home when you or a member of your household is sick with symptoms. Keep away from others who are sick and limit contact with most people in general. Six feet is the smallest distance needed to prevent the virus from traveling from person to person. All food and drink sharing needs to be stopped in order to prevent the spread of germs. Don’t forget about anything your little ones may have put in their mouth, such as toys, or even their fingers after touching their own mouths or noses. If anyone has symptoms, they should wear a face mask to prevent its spread.

Create a household plan of action. THANKFULLY children seem to be doing very well with the virus and we probably don’t even know if they are getting it. Those with underlying medical conditions and the elderly are more at risk for complications. Talk to relatives and friends in order to plan ways to care for them. You can identify aid organizations in your community, including access to information, health care services, support, and resources. Consider including organizations that provide mental health or counseling services, food, and other supplies.

Take the following steps to help protect your children during an outbreak: 

  1. If your child/children become sick with COVID-19s, notify their childcare facility or school. Talk with teachers about classroom assignments and activities they can do from home to keep up with their schoolwork.
  2. Keep track of school dismissals in your community.
  3. Discourage children and teens from gathering in other public places while school is dismissed

There’s a lot still unknown about what the next few weeks will be like so prepare as best you can now so you can overcome the challenges that may come. This is certainly a stressful time for everyone and kids respond differently to stressful situations. If they are old enough to understand and you think it is appropriate, discuss it with them, give them a safe space to share, and reassure them they are safe.