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How to Care for Yourself at Home with a Respiratory Illness

March 5, 2020

If you are sick with a respiratory virus, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

Stay Home Except to Get Medical Care

You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. It is best to stay home until you are well to prevent others from becoming ill.

Separate Yourself From Other People and Animals in Your Home

As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.

If You Need to Seek Medical Care

Call ahead before visiting your health care provider’s office. If you have a medical appointment, wear a facemask. This will help the health care facility take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Wear a Facemask

You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a health care provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing or it is unavailable), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room.

Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.

Avoid Sharing Personal Household Items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean Your Hands Often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Clean All “High-Touch” Surfaces Every Day

High-touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Monitor Your Symptoms

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.

 

Sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and New Jersey Department of Health

24-Hour Public Hotline

1-800-222-1222

Trained health care professionals are standing by to answer questions about coronavirus (COVID-19).

New Jersey Poison Control is working with the New Jersey Department of Health to offer this free call line.