A Guide to Staying Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by NPHM | April 6th, 2020

Most of us are sitting in our homes, watching TV, reading news feeds, and hoping that the threat of COVID-19 goes away as quickly as possible. It’s a crazy experience for all of us, and we’re all asking the same question, “How do I stay safe?”

Before we look at safety tips, let’s first state that the group most at risk for complications from COVID-19 are older adults and people who have underlying chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease. Eight out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the U.S. have been people age 65 years and older. However, it’s also true that COVID-19 can present a threat to people of all ages, even those who are considered healthy.

Though these groups are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, we all need to do our part by social distancing. Our priority right now is to reduce the number of Americans exposed to the virus and the number of people who need healthcare. This will ensure that those of us who are the sickest get the care we need.

Part I: Navigating the Virus (From Prevention to Care)

How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19

  • Keep your distance from others.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.

The CDC reminds us that the best way to avoid COVID-19 is to not be exposed to it. Though it’s an obvious point, it’s one worth repeating. How do we prevent exposure? We need to first know how it spreads.

The coronavirus commonly spreads through droplets produced by sneezes or coughs. It can also remain on many different types of surfaces for long periods of time. So, to reduce our exposure to COVID-19, we must stay away from others and wash our hands often.

Protective masks are a great way to ensure that droplets don’t enter your respiratory system. However, these masks aren’t easy to find right now, and they should be reserved for people who are at high risk for infection or medical professionals.

Regardless of whether or not you have a mask, you should keep your distance from people, which is why social distancing has become the norm. By staying away from others, you’ll eliminate the risk of catching any illnesses they’re carrying.

Even if you aren’t concerned for your own health, remember that if you’re exposed, you’re a risk to others. In addition, you may be contagious for days before you begin to experience symptoms. For that reason, social distancing is an ethical obligation that we should all adhere to for however long it’s asked of us.

Washing your hands frequently is one of the most important ways to avoid COVID-19. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure all your fingers get plenty of attention. The New York Times has a great article that goes into even more detail about proper protocol for hand washing.

If you can order food or groceries online, do it. These services can help you maintain your distance from others and avoid the risk of coming in contact with surfaces that might be hosting the virus.

How to Protect Your Loved Ones

  • If you’re sick, isolate yourself.
  • Always cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  • Cover your face if you are sick and must go out in public.
  • Disinfect surfaces every day.

Protecting others means isolating ourselves completely when we’re sick. Quarantine yourself as soon as you notice symptoms: coughing, fever, shortness of breath, or fatigue. If you are living with others when you notice symptoms, then confine yourself to one room, wear a mask, and always cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

Disinfect surfaces you touch regularly, and make sure those sharing a home with you do the same. Encourage them to wash their hands regularly and not to touch their faces.

When You Should (and Shouldn’t Seek Medical Care)

  • If you’re an otherwise healthy and young person who starts feeling sick, continue to monitor your symptoms and treat them with over-the-counter medications. If you don’t have underlying health conditions, but your symptoms keep getting worse, seek telehealth services first.
  • If you are at high risk for serious complications, seek medical treatment as soon as you notice symptoms.

Because COVID-19 is widespread and more likely to be fatal for vulnerable populations, only those vulnerable populations should seek care in-person from a healthcare provider. If symptoms are mild, quarantine yourself, stay hydrated, and take pain relief medication to alleviate your symptoms.

If you are increasingly concerned about your symptoms, but you aren’t at a high risk for serious complications, seek the services of a telehealth provider. This will ensure that sickest among us have access to the healthcare they need.

If you’re already at high risk for serious complications and you notice a fever and a cough, then you should seek medical care as soon as possible.

Part II: Staying Safe While Quarantined

So, now that we’ve covered the basics of preventing illness, let’s remember that our healthcare system will likely be under heavy strain during this outbreak. This means that any non-COVID-19 illness or injury you suffer could place you in contact with confirmed coronavirus sufferers when you seek medical attention, negating the good work you’ve done by social distancing.

You can stay safe throughout your quarantine/shelter in place by following these tips:

Avoid any risky activities. When you’re home and bored, it may seem like the perfect time to do something you’ve been meaning to get around to, like getting on a ladder to clean your gutters. In reality, now’s not the time to do anything that puts you at risk for an injury. So, unless you’re completely at ease doing home repairs or moving furniture, wait until the pandemic passes.

Keep your home clean or, at the very least, clutter-free. When you’re home literally every moment of every day, it’s easy to let things pile up. But that increases your risk of slipping, tripping, and falling around your home. Keep all areas of your home free of items that obstruct walkways or present other tripping hazards.

Make sure your fire alarms are working properly. Since you’ll be making many meals at home, you want to be sure your fire alarms have been tested. If you’re able to get spare batteries, it’s good to have back-ups. Avoid using candles, turn off all heaters when sleeping, and double-check stoves and ovens to be sure they’re turned off when you’re finished cooking.

Check all your children’s toys for choking hazards. One of the biggest threats facing children is toys and household items that present choking hazards. That can include marbles, balloons, crayons, erasers, tiny figurines, and several other items.

Make the Most of Your Time, and Stay as Safe as Possible

We know that it’s a very unusual time for everyone. In addition to keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to be mindful of how we deal with social distancing.

At Nurenberg Paris, we’re committed to conducting business as usual throughout the response to this pandemic. If you have questions or need legal assistance, contact us anytime to speak to our team and schedule a free consultation.