By Samantha Rupp
If you were caught off guard by the COVID-19 pandemic, you certainly weren’t the only one. Amid local governments putting lockdowns and quarantine measures into place, individuals and families across the country found themselves unprepared to deal with a pandemic and, in many cases, they panicked. Local grocery stores ran short on canned food and other non-perishables, in addition to personal hygiene items like toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, and face masks.
However, the more serious shortages occurred in hospitals nationwide. Medical facilities struggled to find enough hospital beds and PPE to deal with the influx of patients. The overwhelming demand placed on the medical system had deadly consequences.
So, with all of this in mind, how can you as an individual prepare yourself and your family in case of another pandemic? The suggestions offered in this guide can help ensure that you have everything in order for when the next health crisis strikes.
Come up with an emergency plan
An emergency plan will outline the actions that you and those around you should take in case of a pandemic.
Consider what you will do if someone falls sick and has to self-isolate or be hospitalized. Will your kids stay at home? Who will take care of them? Or, if you have pets, who will look after them in the event that you’re unable to?
You should also put together an emergency supply kit geared toward a pandemic that will allow you and your family to survive without leaving the house for three to seven days. Some of the items you should add to this kit include:
- Plenty of bottled water
- A stock of non-perishable foods
- PPE and cleaning supplies like tissues, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, etc
- First-aid kit, medications, and prescriptions
- Water filtration tools, such as a camping filter, iodine tablets, or an ultraviolet purifier
- Personal hygiene items, such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and feminine hygiene products
- Durable shoes, heavy gloves, warm clothes, waterproof jackets, and a space blanket
- A fire extinguisher
- Any other necessary supplies or tools, especially items that seniors, infants, or individuals with special needs in the household may need
Review your insurance policies
Individuals who were hospitalized for COVID-19 but ended up surviving faced a physical toll, and may have to deal with the lasting effects of the virus. But, in many cases, these survivors had to deal with financial strain after being discharged as well. If you’ve been hospitalized before, then you probably know how much it can cost — the final bill can potentially end up being tens of thousands of dollars.
To get a full understanding of the potential costs you may face in case you fall seriously ill, take a close look at your health insurance policy. See what kinds of services and procedures your insurance will cover, and the deductible you will be financially responsible for. For example, does your insurance cover telemedicine options that would allow you to see a doctor or therapist from the comfort of your own home? This may come in handy if a pandemic strikes and you don’t want to leave your home, but still want treatment options.
In addition to reviewing your medical insurance, take a look at your life insurance policy if you have one. If you don’t have a life insurance policy already, then you might consider taking one out. Even though it may seem grim, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Going over the details of things like your life insurance policy and estate plan are especially important if you have a family or people who financially depend on you. If you were to die as a result of any future disaster — including another global health pandemic — having a life insurance policy and an estate plan in place would give your loved ones a financial lifeline during a time of crisis.
Learning about how diseases are spread and how to minimize the spread can potentially help you protect yourself from infection. One of the reasons the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the early stages, was so confusing was because there was conflicting information about the best practices for staying safe and containing the spread. Most people only understand how a virus is spread from person-to-person on a very basic level. Thus, many people underestimated the importance of wearing face masks and using PPE.
While you certainly don’t have to get a virology degree to understand how a virus moves from one person to another, it might be helpful to do some research and clear up any misconceptions you may have about the spread of viruses. Knowing the facts can help you stay safe and protected from infection in the future.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Those with poor health can be more prone to experiencing complications after contracting the COVID-19 virus or other similar viruses. By staying in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can keep your immune system strong. Keeping up a strong immune system can help minimize the symptoms of various illnesses, prevent complications, and help your body recover faster.
The two main factors that affect your physical health are diet and exercise. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet that consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and seafood.
Additionally, make an effort to exercise on a regular basis. Make it a goal to do at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. While joining a gym is a convenient way for many people to exercise, you don’t necessarily have to purchase a gym membership in order to get the exercise you need. Some of the following activities can also keep you in good shape:
- Walking or jogging around your neighborhood
- Going on long bike rides
- Doing body weight exercises at home
- Hiking with your pet
- Participating in recreational sports
If these past few months have taught us anything, it’s that the world can change in an instant. After the COVID-19 pandemic was first identified, it spread rapidly across the globe, leaving sickness, death, and economic devastation in its wake. Many people were unprepared to deal with the virus, and this led to widespread panic and uncertainty.
Although we’re beginning to take control of the COVID-19 epidemic, the reality is that the next virus could pop up at any time. To minimize the impact it has on your life, you need to be prepared for it. By following the suggestions in this guide and listening to medical experts, you can prepare for another pandemic and potentially keep yourself and those around you protected from harm.
What do you think the COVID-19 pandemic should have taught us?
If we get anything in the future similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, what would you do? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.