How to prepare your household for the coronavirus health crisis (or any health crisis)

We have gotten a subtle reminder about the importance of our health and certainly of being prepared for an emergency. Here are some tips that will prove useful to ensure you are better prepared when a crisis strikes.

Prepare yourself!
The CDC website ( is a valuable resource for any health-related information and especially now relative to the COVID-19 coronavirus. There are several ways to prepare for the possibility of being sick.

Take stock
Make time to take stock of your pantry, your medicine cabinet, and cleaning supplies.

If you are lucky enough to have a pantry (a spare bedroom or any available storage space), you might think about stocking it with dry goods that you can use for a few weeks’ worth of cooking. It’s important to plan ahead but not hoard things as we have all learned that can leave some folks destitute without the items, they need most. Plan a menu for a few weeks at a time, make some stews and soups and freeze them so that if you do become sick, you or a loved one can easily heat them up for you. Some good items to have in the pantry include rice, beans, soups, chili, peanut butter, crackers, canned tuna and/or chicken and some snack items to provide a level of comfort.

Prepare now to ensure that you have the supplies in your medicine cabinet that work for you. Take stock to see that you have a fever-reducing medicine like ibuprofen or acetaminophen on hand, as well as any medications like expectorants or antihistamines you may use. Check that you have a working thermometer, boxes of tissues, heating pad for any aches, and a humidifier to keep your throat and mouth from getting too dry.

As we take this time to self-isolate, use the time to prepare your bedroom and house for yourself if you get sick or care for a loved one who gets sick.  Using child- and pet-friendly cleaning solutions, wipe down all high-touch surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. Other places to clean include TV remotes, phones, doorknobs, faucets, toilet handles, chairs, dining room tables, desks, anything that you handle on a regular basis.

Now is the time to get caught up on laundry! It’s not the most fun chore but getting ahead of it and preparing a stack of clean towels and bedsheets will feel so good when you are sick. Prepping your bedroom with comfort items like your favorite blankets, socks, and pajamas will make it easier to relax if you or a loved one become sick.  If you or a loved one is handling your laundry while you are sick, be sure to either wear gloves or wash hands after handling dirty laundry, including used towels. Be sure not shake the laundry (to cut down on airborne bacteria).  Do not share towels or other toiletries, and change out your toothbrush, too, when illness has passed.

Keep yourself occupied
In these days of social distancing, we will need to stock up those comfort items that help you pass the time. In a recent blog post, “Newfound Time At Home Offers The Chance To Explore The Arts And Improve Your Health,” we shared some crafty and artistic pastimes that you can embrace while at home.

For those who do not craft, now would be the time to round up those books around the house that you’ve been meaning to read!  Many libraries offer books online, too, so grab your laptop, Kindle, tablet or phone and download those books and magazines. You can even download a service like Hoopla, ( to access and download books and movies. Grab that popcorn and catch up on some movies with the family.

If you are in a family that likes to play games, spend some time playing fun card games or board games.  A family night playing board or trivia games or even jigsaw puzzles can make for an evening of laughter.  Cherish the time together and make some special memories.

Make your home your castle
Many people are taking advantage of this time at home to rethink their surroundings. The latest hashtag on social media, #COVIDorganizing, is trending as people are taking this extra time at home to declutter and reorganize their home. Because our homes are a place of comfort, many are organizing closets, cabinets, even sheds and garages, to bring a sense of peace in our surroundings.

We’re all in this together
As we do our part to “flatten the curve” during the coronavirus health crisis, know that with a little ingenuity, creativity and planning, we can get through this. Take the time to enjoy being with your family; reach out to far away family and friends through social media, FaceTime, Skype or Zoom can be used with ease.  Don’t forget the importance of phone calls. Now is a good time to do those things that you’ve been putting off for a while.

Now is the time to reach out to others. Call a friend, check on a neighbor, stay connected. We are all in this together.

In our community, FiftyForward center and program staff have been making wellness calls and checking in with members, clients and volunteers. From March 16-April 8, more than 3,000 calls and check-ins were done by staff.

If you know an older adult in Middle Tennessee who needs access to resources, please reach out to FiftyForward for assistance at 615-743-3416. We’re here for you.

Submitted by Misa Acox, Marketing & Publications Manager.