Coronavirus: Tips for Families & Neighbors

Being prepared for an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in your community eases everyone’s stress levels and supports overall family and community health. While medical experts expect most people infected will have very mild symptoms, together we must work to slow the spread of coronavirus and lessen the risk of infection to elderly and infirm community members who may not survive the disease. Most of us have already received the message to wash our hands more, some of us have been asked to stay home as businesses and restaurants close,  and there are additional simple steps we can take to be prepared. Please review and share these important health-planning tips and response recommendations with your family and neighbors.

get prepared for coronavirus 

Practicing Prevention  

Having a Home Plan  

Reevaluating Family Vacation Plans & Group Celebrations  

Planning for Extended Time at Home 

Being a Good Neighbor

Practicing Prevention

  • Keeping up to date on health advisory information from your municipal health leaders, school leaders, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) including guidelines for staying home and gathering sizes. 

  • Following CDC published everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including:

    • staying home when you or family members are sick

    • appropriately covering coughs and sneezes

    • avoiding handshakes

    • avoiding touching the nose, eyes and mouth with unwashed hands

    • washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.)

  • Keeping a healthy immune system by getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising and getting fresh air.

  • Wiping down frequent-touch surfaces with EPA-approved disinfectant products for use against COVID-19 including multiple products from brands such as Clorox and Lysol.

Having a Home Plan

The CDC recommends every family has a home plan including:

  • Creating a list of local organizations you and your household can contact in case you need access to information, healthcare services, support, and resources.

  • Creating an emergency contact list including family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

  • Choosing a room in your house that can be used to separate sick household members from others.If anyone in your family develops symptoms of Coronavirus (fever, difficulty breathing, dry cough), please contact your physician or local health service and seek immediate medical attention.

Postponing Family Vacation Plans & Group Celebrations

Not only does the CDC advise elderly and high-risk Americans to avoid flying on commercial airlines and avoid cruise ships, as the spread of the coronavirus health threat becomes broader, it’s difficult to predict future travel recommendations for all families. Consider:

  • Celebrating Spring Break at a local beach, hiking trail or a State or National Park, outdoors and away from crowds.

  • Checking cancellation and refund dates for summer vacation plans and camps and reevaluating risks as you get closer to deadlines.

  • Postponing family gatherings such as weddings, graduation and anniversary celebrations. If small events continue, be mindful in avoiding older relatives and reminding those in attendance that frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizer, no-handshake and safe-distancing rules apply. (Also check out our suggestions for Event Planners given the coronavirus health threat.)

  • If traveling, check your health insurance coverage to ensure you’re supported if you get sick while away from home or stuck due to a travel ban.

Planning for Extended Time at Home

Wide-spread school closures and working-from-home mandates require us all to prepare for extended family time and limiting contacts. Consider:

  • Preparing for an abundance of home-time including having a stash of books, games, podcasts, baking supplies and movies at the ready. Check out these 44 Fun Ways to Prevent Cabin Fever.

  • Determining how children will stay engaged in school and do a technology audit to ensure your devices are up for the job. Many schools will have take-home iPads and Chromebooks available and many education companies are offering free online instructional activities to keep kids on grade level. . 

  • If you will be working remotely from home, spend time figuring out where you will work and setting family expectations for honoring parents’ work time and space.

  • Ensuring child care providers are not elderly or in other risk groups.

  • Planning to have several weeks of food, supplies and medications on hand for the whole family to reduce public outings.

  • Teaching your parents (or have your children teach you) to use video chat services like Facetime and Zoom so you keep in close contact with family, friends and colleagues.

Being a Good Neighbor

Elderly neighbors and those most at-risk may be feeling anxious and don’t know how to reach out for help or may be scared to do so. Initiating a friendly conversation and a helping-hand during a crisis is a great way to be neighborly. You may already know who could benefit from assistance, but a quick post on the neighborhood listserve or social platform like Nextdoor can surface others in need. Consider:

  • Asking neighbors if they have a Home Plan and if not, helping them create one.

  • Organizing a meal circle on SignUp or scheduling days for different neighbors to check-in with a friendly call or a warm coffee.

  • Helping with shopping, errands and teaching neighbors how to order groceries online so they can avoid outings.

  • Teaching neighbors how to use technology to keep connected to their family such as Facetime or Skype for video calls and how to use live streaming links to connect to community events.

  • If a neighbor becomes ill, helping them connect with medical assistance and opening communication with their family members.

Meal Circle SignUp on Mobile Phones


Coronavirus: Tips for Event Planners

Keep Your Sanity: Ways to Prevent Cabin Fever

Spring Cleaning Fun for the Whole Family