Create an action plan for your home
Consider who should be included in the plan
Get together with your family, friends, and neighbors to plan what to do in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in your community and what are each person’s care and needs.
Plan how to care for people who may be at risk for serious complications
Older adults and people with underlying chronic conditions are at higher risk for complications and serious illness. Look for possible solutions to prevent them from becoming infected.
Get to know your neighbors better
Talk to your neighbors about possible risks, use social networks responsibly to share information, and avoid spreading false news or rumors.
Identify aid organizations in your community
Make a list of nearby institutions that you can contact if additional medical care or other support is needed. Consider organizations that provide health services, psychological support, medication, food, or any other supplies that may be required.
Make an emergency contact list
Make sure your family members have an up-to-date contact list that includes family, friends, neighbors, health care providers, co-workers, and people who can be contacted in an emergency.
Remind members of your household of good health habits
- Avoid going to crowded places where very close contact can occur.
- Stay home if you are sick with mild symptoms. If you think your situation is worsening or your symptoms worsen, ask for help and seek medical attention, do not wait unnecessarily.
- When sneezing or coughing, cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or cover your nose and mouth with the inside of your arm.
- Constantly clean frequently touched surfaces and objects (tables, light switches, keys, door handles, cabinets, mobile phones, tools, etc.).
- As much as possible, try not to touch surfaces where other people have been.
- Do not touch your face, eyes, mouth, nose, or other mucous membranes without first washing your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Wet your hands with clean water, turn off the faucet, and apply soap.
- Rub hands with soap until foamy. Rub foam across the backs of hands, between fingers, and under fingernails for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands with clean running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry.
- Be careful not to carelessly touch contaminated objects or surfaces after washing your hands.
It is recommended that you wash your hands especially:
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- After going to the bathroom.
- Before eating, handling, or preparing food.
- When having contact with animals or pets.
- Before and after assisting a person who needs care (children, elderly, or sick people).
If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol.
Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, especially if they look dirty or if you may have touched contaminated objects.
The use of disinfectants is NOT the same as washing your hands.
It is to remove dirt, impurities, and germs from surfaces. Cleaning doesn’t kill germs but it lowers their number and lowers the risk of spreading infection.
It is a chemical process that kills or eradicates germs on some surface, disinfection does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces, but by killing germs it decreases the risk of spreading infection. Cleaning and disinfection are NOT synonymous. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning first and disinfecting later.
Wear disposable gloves, check for punctures, throw away gloves after each cleaning. If you use reusable gloves, they must be dedicated exclusively to cleaning COVID-19 surfaces.
Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them with detergent or soap and water before disinfecting.
To disinfect, you can use solutions with a minimum of 70% alcohol or a chlorine solution (4 tablespoons of chlorine per liter of water). Do not mix chlorine with ammonia or any other cleaner.
For porous surfaces such as rugs, curtains, or textiles, machine wash or hand wash in warm or hot water and dry thoroughly.
If gloves are not available, when handling dirty laundry, wash your hands after handling it.
Don’t shake dirty clothes. This minimizes the possibility of spreading the virus through the air.
A sick person’s clothes can be washed with the clothes of other household members.
Clean and sanitize laundry basket. If you can, put a bag in the basket before putting dirty clothes in it, throw the bag away after one use.
Follow your doctor’s orders, avoid self-medication, and expose yourself to unnecessary risks.
To the extent possible, the sick person should stay in a specific room separate from other people in their home, cared for by a single caregiver. Choose a room in your house that makes your stay easy.
The sick person must wear a face mask and have their own supply of disposable tissues, paper, towels, as well as cleaning utensils cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with chlorine.
If your home does not have a separate bathroom, the bathroom will need to be cleaned and disinfected after being used by the sick person.
In rooms and bathrooms dedicated to sick people, clean when strictly necessary to reduce unnecessary contact with the sick person.
All household members should wash their hands frequently, when removing gloves, after being in contact with a sick person, and before the possibility of touching an object that could be contaminated.
How do I explain a pandemic to children?
All the following recommendations refer to children in the early childhood education stage (up to approximately 6 years old, depending on the degree of maturity). At other ages, they must have the most appropriate approach to their level of understanding and that allows them to learn and develop according to their age.
The media and social alarm sometimes force us to explain things that we never thought we would have to talk about with children. It is not so serious: you just have to have very clear priorities.
Is Coronavirus a tiny bug with a crown?
For a few weeks, it seems that COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) is everything we talk about in the media, in the streets, in families, in schools, and even in early childhood education classrooms.
It doesn’t seem like the most appropriate topic to talk about, but sometimes children are the ones who propose it because they are nervous about the expectation they notice around them and they need to express themselves. How can we face this situation from an educational point of view? The best thing is to focus on the subject simply, clearly, and without too much detail so that we protect our children’s rights. In this case, especially their rights to protection and health.
Protect the children’s emotions
Conversations at home and continued exposure to the media about COVID-19 can cause children uncertainty, worry, anguish, and stress.
Therefore, we share some tips to reduce stress in children and protect their emotional well-being:
- Explain the situation in clear and simple language. Be honest and tell them the truth in a friendly way, to this effect, it is important to be well informed on the subject, explain to them what a pandemic is, the consequences it has on their daily lives, and the importance of taking precautions to reduce the risk of getting the disease.
- Pay attention to them. Children can react to stress in different ways, some will be more attached to us out of fear, others will be more nervous, withdrawn, angry, or agitated, depending on their personality, and may even have reactions such as bedwetting. In this situation, it’s a good idea to consider their attention needs more often than usual. It is important not to be indifferent. We must be supportive of their concerns, listen to them, and convey calm and love.
- Protect their emotions. The most important thing is to listen to their concerns by giving them our full attention. Acknowledge their emotions, make them see that everything they are feeling is normal. Be more understanding and patient with them, look for relaxation spaces, and share leisure time so that they forget about the restlessness they perceive in the environment.
- Keep them close to their family and friends. Children should not be separated from their relatives and close friends. If the distance is forced (for example, as a preventive measure for their grandparents’ and closest friends’ health), they must keep regular contact with them by other means (phone calls, text messages, etc.).
- Organize new routines and regular schedules. Although in isolation situations it is practically impossible not to vary our routines, it is important to maintain certain habits. For example, dress in comfortable clothes even if it is necessary to stay at home; dedicate time to learning, guide them to do homework; and also accompany them when performing recreational activities.
- Control the sources of information. It is our duty as parents to protect them from all the information that could confuse them or contribute to developing anxiety and fear. We can reduce anxiety at home if we avoid exposing children to the news about the problem. Explain that not all the information available on the internet is correct and that it is better to trust experts and official sources, as is the case of the website that ABC Medical Center makes available to the community: centromedicoabc.com/coronavirus
- Put on a brave face and weather the storm. Make them notice that in difficult times or times of crisis, there are also new activities to learn, for example, hand hygiene habits in a fun and practical way.
- Organize fun family activities. It is essential to plan moments of leisure and activities together (such as board games, crafts, cooking in family, watching movies, listening to music, tidying the garden or the closets and drawers in the house, dancing, playing a musical instrument, reading, practicing breathing and meditation techniques, among others).
- Exercising. Exercising as a family every day is vital to keep your spirits up and this is where creativity plays an important role, such as preparing an obstacle course in the garden, going up and down the stairs in various ways, etc.
- Teach them respect for the environment. Teach them to make small contributions to domestic hygiene, such as separating waste from garbage, recycling techniques, knowing the importance of cleaning the house, clothes, dishes, etc.
Protect the children’s health
At this stage of development, it is also very important to establish the basis of self-protective habits that will allow them to be responsible for their health and that of other people throughout their lives. It is not necessary to talk about all the causes and effects of diseases to encourage them to protect themselves, there are protection behaviors within children’s reach from a very early age and that also allows them to develop their sense of self-efficacy and self-confidence:
- Handwashing with soap and water: not only learning to wash their hands properly but acquiring the habit and being able to promote this need in different contexts (for example: when entering the house, remembering to wash their hands in a restaurant, etc.)
- Recognize the daily moments in which we are in contact with dirt and be able to take precautions. For example, soil management, contact with domestic animals, precautions against garbage and feces, among others.
- Learn those hygienic measures that protect others, for example, the use of handkerchiefs and napkins, learning to clean the nose, avoiding sharing cutlery and glasses, etc.
- Acquire respect for the environment: collaborate in home and school hygiene, acquire the habit of throwing waste in the garbage, know the importance of cleaning the environment, clothes, dishes, among others.
At the moment there is not enough evidence to determine if the virus can be transmitted from mothers to fetuses during pregnancy, nor the consequences that this can have on the baby. It is still being investigated. Pregnant women should take the proper precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus and seek medical attention if they develop symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
Is it safe for a mother infected with Coronavirus to breastfeed her baby?
If a mother has symptoms but is well enough to breastfeed her baby, she should wear a mask whenever she is around the baby (for example, while breastfeeding), wash her hands before and after having contact with the baby (also while breastfeeding), and clean or disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated. These preventive measures must be followed at all times if a person who knows that he or she is infected with COVID-19 or suspects that he or she may be infected is in contact with other people.
If a mother is very ill, it is recommended that she pumps her milk to give it to the baby in a cup and/or with a clean spoon, following the same infection prevention measures at all times.
Remember to talk to your doctor if you have any questions.
At any age, but especially with children, it is of little use to teach them to wash their hands if they do not see us doing it often. Nor will it have much effect what we tell them about being calm if they perceive our nervousness or if we scold them for calling someone “coronavirus” when they hear us make jokes that they do not understand.
At a stage of development in which language skills are not yet fully developed, much of the learning is done by imitation and has a high emotional component. Children’s education forces us to use all the senses.
- Prepare your Home for COVID-19
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020.
- Actions against COVID-19
- Special Rescue Operations Group, 2020.
- Coronavirus Parents Guide
- UNICEF, 2020
- Unicef, 2020