COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has upended our lives—schools are closed, we’re working from home or our employer is closed, and we are staying at home except for essential trips. While this is difficult, it is also an essential step to preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed as the virus spreads. Though we’re busy adjusting to this new situation, an article in Wired points out that now is also a good time to plan for how to care for your kids if you become infected with COVID-19.

The Basics

If no one in your home is at a higher risk of catching a disease, any disease, the recommendations are pretty simple. Wash hands often, sanitize surfaces, maintain physical distancing when you are out, and “decontaminate” when you get back home.

Keep in mind the symptoms of COVID-19 as well: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may not show up until two to fourteen days after exposure, which is why continually practicing good hygiene is important.

Should you or someone in your household have those symptoms, you can use the Coronavirus Self-Checker from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to plan your next steps. You should also be aware of the emergency warning signs of COVID-19 that require immediate medical attention: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face.

If You Have COVID-19

Most of those who test positive for COVID-19 but do not have symptoms that require hospitalization will be sent home. If that’s the case, it is important to quarantine away from the rest of your family. That means that the infected person needs to stay in a separate bedroom and, if possible, use a separate bathroom. You don’t need to go to special lengths with disposable trays and such, as everyday household cleaners do a good job of killing the virus, but you do need to do a good job of sanitizing items they contact.

Since you can be contagious prior to showing symptoms, others in your household may have been infected before you tested positive. Experiences from other countries indicate that infections within a home are usually staggered, so not everyone is likely to be at their worst at the same time. Keep in mind that you are most contagious when symptoms are art their worst, which means if both you and your partner are infected, the on further along in their illness is likely less contagious.

Prevention Plays a Role

Remember that one of the best ways to avoid falling ill is to take care of yourself. Beyond the basic hygiene practices, make sure to eat well, get plenty of sleep, exercise (in a safe manner), and taking time to destress.

Preparing for the Worst

Now, while everyone in your household is healthy, is the time to think about the worst case scenario—that you and your partner become sick or require hospitalization at the same time. Should that happen, you will need a caregiver for your children. If both of you are sick, it is likely that your children are infected as well, and given the risks of COVID-19 with older adults, sending the kids to grandma’s house is not a good idea.

If you don’t have low-risk family in the area (e.g., younger aunts and uncles or young adult cousins), you may need to approach friends with low-risk families to be emergency caregivers. Other things to think about in your worst case scenario:

  • Who takes care of the pets?
  • Do the kids know who the emergency caregivers are?
  • Is this information written down so that emergency responders can find it (or your kids can find it for them)?
  • Do the kids know what to do if they find you and your partner unresponsive?

The pandemic is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime, but doctors and scientists do know how the biology and math involved in the spread of disease work. Pay attention to trusted scientific sources like the CDC rather than what you hear or see on social media, and be sure to check out the article at Wired for more information on how to care for your kids if you are sick.

Graphic courtesy of the US Army.