Staying healthy with a sick person at home is tricky, but not impossible—here are measures to take
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The new year has arrived and with it, peak flu season. What’s more, there’s a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant in town making the rounds. If someone in your household comes down with an illness in the coming weeks, it’s crucial to take steps to minimize the spread of germs. That includes mitigating your own risk of getting infected, too.
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Staying healthy when you're living with someone who's sick is tricky, but it can be possible if you take proper precautions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends several preventive measures to stay safe when caring for someone sick. Here’s what you can do at home to protect yourself.
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Take at-home COVID-19 tests if you’ve been exposed
Using at-home tests is vital in monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in your household. While there are many different symptoms associated with COVID-19, a test provides the only surefire way to know if you or someone you're living with is infected or not. These tests are easy to use and can give accurate results in as little as 15 minutes. The CDC recommends testing immediately if you show symptoms of COVID-19 or five days after exposure if you’re asymptomatic. For peace of mind, it’s also recommended to test as soon as possible before seeing someone who is immunocompromised and at risk for severe COVID-19.$20 from Walmart $24 from CVS
Use a thermometer to monitor a fever
Running a fever (defined as a temperature of 100.4 °F or higher) is a symptom shared between COVID-19, influenza and RSV alike. As such, checking one's temperature with a thermometer can be an important step in determining if someone is sick and monitoring how an illness is progressing. If someone in the household is showing signs of a fever, it may be time to limit contact with them. The Vicks Speedread is a simple, yet effective oral thermometer that's easily washable.$10 from Walmart
Wear an N95 or a KN95 mask
Home is normally one of the safest places to forego wearing a mask, but things change when someone in the household is sick. Wearing a mask when someone is ill 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 illnesses. While once hard to come by, masks are widely available and offered by many reliable retailers, such as Bona Fide Masks.$12 from Bona Fide Masks
Sleep in a different room
Isolating is one of the key strategies in mitigating the spread of germs in the home. That means if someone you share a bed or bedroom with comes down with something, it's best to limit your contact with them until their infection subsides. It's best to give them the bedroom to isolate in, both for their comfort and because it's not typically a central location for the rest of the household. If you find yourself without a bed, there's no need to resort to sleeping on the floor. You can use the best air mattress we've ever tested, the SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress. We love it because it's comfortable, durable and easy to store. Plus, having a good air mattress can come in handy long after your house is healthy again.$150 from Amazon
Eat separately from the sick individual
RSV, COVID-19 and the flu can all spread when an infected person's saliva encounters a healthy individual, so it’s no wonder that eating is a common way for illnesses to spread. To mitigate this risk, the sick member of your household should eat in whichever room they're quarantining in. To make their experience less messy and a bit more comfortable, we recommend getting them a food tray. It'll allow them to eat from the comfort of their bed without worrying about making a mess. This tray by Home-it has thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon, with buyers loving the sturdiness and simplistic design.$17 from Amazon
Purify the air at home
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that air purifiers can help reduce the transmission of airborne contaminants, such as the ones responsible for the transmission of COVID-19. Used in tandem with other mitigation methods, air purifiers are a good way to help keep members of your household safe from germs. We've tested several air purifiers and found the Blueair DustMagnet 5410i to be the best. It removes particles exceptionally well and is one of the quieter purifiers we tested. It also conveniently supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.$229 from Amazon
Clean your hands with soap and sanitizer
COVID-19, influenza, and RSV can spread when contaminated particles come in contact with someone’s hands, which they then inadvertently use to touch their eyes, nose or mouth, all of which will drastically increase the risk of infection. It’s therefore very important to wash your hands often when dealing with a family member who is sick. To effectively kill germs, the CDC recommends scrubbing your hands for twenty seconds with soap and water. Mrs. Meyer's Hand Soap is a highly rated hand soap made from natural ingredients that can effectively cleanse your hands. If you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer comprised of 60% or more alcohol will do the trick, too.$14.48 from Amazon $32 from Amazon
Disinfect surfaces with wipes
Surfaces covered in infected droplets can also cause germs to spread, though the CDC states that the risk of transmission of COVID and influenza in this manner is lower. Nonetheless, it's understandable if you want to do as much as you can to eliminate the risk of germs for your own peace of mind. To achieve this, we recommend using disinfectant wipes on highly used surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, faucets and remote controls. Make sure to follow the label directions and leave the surface wet for the recommended amount of time to ensure you are properly disinfecting.$4.16 from Amazon
Bring relief with tissues
Congested and runny noses are symptoms of COVID-19, RSV and influenza, so no matter what specific illness is in your household, it's a good idea to pick up a box of tissues. You’re going to want a sick individual to blow their nose or sneeze into a tissue rather than into the air or onto items that you might be handling. Our favorite tissues are Puffs Ultra Soft for their durability and most importantly, softness.$18 from Amazon
Keep your trash separated
Keep away from a sick individual’s bodily fluids even further by giving the isolating member of your household their own trashcan to use. It needn't be anything particularly expensive or sturdy, as it will only be used temporarily. A small wastebasket such as this one by Rubbermaid will suffice. You can even opt to just use a trash bag, like the Glad ForceFlexPlus Tall Kitchen Drawstring Bags. They're sturdy, flexible and scented to cover up the smell of trash.$4.48 from Amazon $18.48 from Amazon
Boost your own immune system to fight off sickness
Another way to keep yourself healthy while caring for a sick person is to make sure that your own immune system is strong enough to fight any bacteria it may be exposed to. There are several ways to do so such as drinking plenty of water, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.
When it comes to eating (or drinking) healthy, there are few tastier ways to go about it than by blending delicious smoothies packed with tons of minerals and vitamins. The Cuisinart Hurricane CBT-1500P1 is the best blender we've tested thanks to its excellent performance, speedy blending and intuitive controls.
To make sure you're drinking enough water, we recommend using the Brita BB11 Premium Filtering Water Bottle. It conveniently opens using one hand, keeps water cool for up to 24 hours and filters out any funky odors and tastes.
To get some shut-eye no matter what time of day it is, consider using a sleep mask like the Mzoo Sleep Mask. It blocks out light so you can sleep no matter how bright a room is. Unlike other sleep masks, the Mzoo doesn't apply pressure to your eyes, making for a more comfortable fit.$200 from Amazon $41.24 from Amazon $17 from Amazon
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