The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing so people have become used to living with elevated risks and community spread. Even though you have to leave home to work or go to school, resuming a normal routine doesn't mean COVID-19 is any less of a threat. It's best to come up with a plan in case you or your loved ones become ill so everyone knows what to do.
These are eight COVID-19 preparedness tips you might not have thought about before. Use them to plan for every possible scenario. You'll know exactly how to take care of yourself and your loved ones so everyone has the best chance possible to recover and resume their everyday lives.
1. Find a pulse oximeter.
When COVID-19 takes over your lungs, it becomes difficult to breathe. Your blood oxygen level (SpO2) falls, which leads to shortness of breath that requires hospitalization. Find a pulse oximeter to measure your SpO2 at home. A normal reading stabilizes between 95 percent to 100 percent.
2. Get household supplies.
COVID-19 can result in numerous symptoms, but you can stock up on household supplies to mitigate them for at-home care. Find over-the-counter medications to fight fevers, nausea, and diarrhea. Get tissues and toilet paper, plus soups, to keep everyone fed even when they can't tolerate solid foods.
3. Write your routine.
If you get sick and your spouse has to take over your routine, will they know what to do? Make a list of all due dates for monthly bills and detailed routines for your kids and pets. You shouldn't have to worry about life falling apart around you if you need to quarantine and rest away from everyone.
4. Find backup care.
In case you or your partner becomes too sick to keep up with your kids or pets, find backup care. Write down who you can call to take your kids in if you're unable to get out of bed. You could also give them your copy of the routines you wrote down so they know things like when your kids go to bed and how often they'll need to take your pets outside to relieve themselves.
5. Review emergency plans.
Emergencies still happen during a pandemic, but not all emergency situations will be the same in this heightened time of stress for hospitals and medical staff.
Review your plans with your loved ones so everyone knows how to handle unexpected situations. Talk about what to do if you get into a car accident while driving to work picking up groceries. Teach your young kids how to call 911 if you get sick and can't reach the phone.
Even discussing emergencies like how to shelter in place during a storm ensures your family will make it through anything that could happen in the coming months.
6. Create a symptom tracker.
Doctors provide the fastest, most-accurate care if you give as many details about your case as possible. Create a symptom tracker that you can start using if anyone in your family falls ill. Record when symptoms start and how intense they become. Log your temperature checks and SpO2 levels throughout the day.
If you need to see a doctor or check into the hospital, this log will point out precisely what kind of care you need so you can recover faster.
7. Check unemployment options.
Even though you might be able to work from home, the lasting symptoms and recovery process of COVID-19 has caused many people to lose their jobs. It's why 12.4 million adults still can't catch up on their rent, struggling with payments that are many months late.
Research how to file for unemployment insurance so you don't have to figure it out after you become sick. Walk through the process with your partner or loved ones so they know how to do it for you if you need help. That extra monthly money could help you afford your bills and seek medical care without sacrificing one for the other.
8. Discuss your wishes.
No one thinks they'll be the next person on a ventilator, but discussing your health care wishes is one of the most critical COVID-19 preparedness tips. Much of the virus is still unknown, with some people recovering more easily while others require ventilation.
Write down what you'd prefer in that situation and any end-of-life care decisions. If the worst-case scenario becomes your reality, your loved ones will have the guidance you approved of before becoming unable to speak for yourself.
Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.