Sick man wearing a mask eats in bed

4 Things to Include in a COVID-19 Care Kit

Most people who become ill from COVID-19 do not need to be hospitalized and instead are able to recover at home.  

As the pandemic continues, you may want to consider having a care kit fully stocked and ready to go if you or someone else in your home become sick from with COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention especially urge those at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to stock up on supplies and medications. 

The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly spread when the respiratory droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes land on the mouths and noses of people nearby and may be inhaled into the lungs. The CDC advises some COVID-19 infections can occur via airborne transmission through “exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours,” and COVID-19 spreads less commonly through touching a contaminated surface. 

For someone sick with COVID-19, there may be days of fever, fatigue, headaches, coughs, chills, loss of taste and smell, and more 

If you live in a household with multiple people, consider how you will isolate the sick person in order to keep everyone else healthy. If possible, the sick person should use a separate bedroom and bathroom. If you have to share space, ensure the room has good air flow by opening a window and wearing masks. The CDC recommends the sick person should clean their own space if possible. 

You likely already have these items in your home that will be helpful in the event of a COVID-19 sickness: 

  • Prescription medications  
  • Over the counter medications to help with pain relief, coughing and sore throat 
  • Electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte and Gatorade  
  • List of emergency contacts and important phone numbers  

Here are four helpful additions to consider adding to a care kit:  

1. Thermometer 

Fever is a common COVID-19 symptom, and some COVID-19 patients have reported multiple days of fevers. Monitoring your temperature is an important measure of how your illness is progressing.  

Should you provide care to a sick person with COVID-19, consider purchasing a contactless, infrared thermometer to limit your contact with the sick person.  

Fever spikes – especially in older adults – are a warning sign and can warrant emergency medical care. 

2. Pulse Oximeter   

A pulse oximeter measures the level of oxygen in your blood. A pulse oximeter us a device that clips onto your finger to measure how much oxygen is saturated in your blood, and your heart rate. Some smartwatches also have this capability.      

During a respiratory illness like COVID-19, your ability to fully supply your bloodstream with oxygen may be compromised.  

Tracking blood oxygen levels is most beneficial for people with COVID-19 symptoms like cough, fever and shortness of breath to help patients and caregivers monitor if their condition is worsening or improving.  

3. Notebook 

A notebook or other mechanism to track symptoms, medications, temperature and pulse oximeter readings is helpful, especially if it’s necessary to consult with a health care professional about the illness. 

4. Bell  

If you live in a household with multiple people and must isolate a sick person, consider how that isolated person will communicate with a caregiver. A bell or other device is handy in the event the sick person needs immediate help. 

If someone has increasing shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to wake up, or bluish lips or face, these are emergency warning signs. Seek emergency medical help right away.   

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Photo credit: Nes

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