The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is part of a family of viruses that cause illnesses like the common cold. Almost everyone gets a virus at some point. And most of the time you’ll recover easily. This virus is different because it’s new and we don’t know what causes the virus or what medicine will treat the symptoms or cure the illness. Some people get very sick, some have died but children seem to have much more mild symptoms if they even get sick at all. The best thing to do for your family at this time is to practice good prevention, know the symptoms and prepare in case someone in your family becomes ill.
Children do not seem to be at high risk for COVID-19 but some people are. You can watch for these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
If you or anyone in your family seems to be having these symptoms please call your doctor to ask about risk factors.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have put out excellent guidelines to help protect yourself and your family from the coronavirus.
These are the basic tips for keeping everyone in your family healthy:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue and then throw it in the trash.
- Avoid being around people who are sick.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, handles, tabletops and etc.).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Manage your stress levels.
- Keeping a distance of 6 feet away from others when out in public and at home if someone is coughing or sneezing.
- Refrain from hugging, kissing or shaking hands with others.
- Avoid social gatherings of 10 people or more.
- Use the drive-thru, pick up or delivery instead of dining out in restaurants.
- Avoid unnecessary shopping trips.
- Do not visit long-term care facilities.
This may be difficult for young children to understand. Especially if they have friends they visit often. School may be canceled in your community as well. Talk to your children about the changes giving them simple reassurance, monitor their access to news and media, be a good role model for them.
Watch for signs of anxiety in your child. They may not tell you they are worried but may become more irritable, clingy or have trouble sleeping. Just try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible.
If there is a coronavirus outbreak in your community, you will need to be prepared for school closures, child care closures and the like. You may be asked to work from home if possible, or you may be temporarily laid off. You can prepare by having your plans ready just in case.
- Think about alternative child care plans.
- Discuss your sick leave options with your employer.
- Have a 2 week supply of food on hand in case you are ill and cannot get to the store.
- Have extra medical supplies like fever medications, thermometers and tissues to last up to 2 weeks.
- Make a list of emergency contacts to share with your family.
As parents, you are encouraged to stay informed about the situation. There are changes almost daily to what is known, who is affected and how to prevent the illness from spreading. The American Academy of Pediatrics has up to date information that will help you prepare your child.