We in America are spoiled. Serious disease does not affect most of us, and when it does, it is whisked away to sterile hospital rooms behind closed doors. They aren’t our problem.

Even really serious diseases like Influenza, which kills thousands of people each year in the US is referred to as “just the flu” by anyone who hasn’t personally witnessed one of these deaths. The truth is, a pandemic could sweep through our country at any moment and we are not prepared for it because we, as a cultural collective, consider disease something that happens far away and/or long ago. We scoff at workers who call in sick, even though their presence exposes us to disease. The truth is, a responsible person will quarantine themselves and their family for at least a few days if a serious contagion like the flu or strep throat strikes them or a member of their household.

When disease strikes, it doesn’t always give a warning, so it is best to be prepared to stay home and care for an ill person for at least two weeks.  And if you’re the one who is sick, who is going to go to the store for supplies, huh? Not you. It takes about two weeks to recover from a rough cold or flu, though it could take longer or shorter. If you’ve followed my advice in other preparedness articles, you already have some food put by, so this article isn’t going to assume that food is handled. We’re going to address items specific to the care of a contagious patient. It will also be helpful if you find yourself caring for someone recovering from surgery.

Item Quantity Purpose
Thermometer 2 It is important to keep track of everyone’s temperature, especially the patient’s.
Rubbing alcohol 2 bottles Use this to sanitize thermometers and other items used directly on the patient. Dilute it by one third to one quarter (one part water to two or three parts alcohol) into a spray bottle to disinfect surfaces.
Peroxide 2 bottles This is a backup sanitizer. I prefer it for sanitizing things like hairbrushes, toothbrushes and porous surfaces. Also good for getting out body fluid stains like puke and blood. (PS If you’re puking blood go to the ER.)
Gallon sized Resealable freezer bags 1 box of 40 or so Place small items that have been handled by the sick person to be transported securely to the place where they will be sanitized.
Large plastic garbage bags 1 box of 25 or more For large items that the patient has touched, like bedding and pillows to transport them from the sick room to where they will be sanitized. It can also be used as makeshift protective gear in a pinch.
Gatorade or vitamin water 10 bottles A high fever can cause dehydration very quickly. Gatorade will help get those electrolytes up, especially if the patient doesn’t have an appetite
Water 1 You should already have a store of water. This is extra water. Sick people need more fluids.
Mini cans of Coke (or Dr. Pepper if you prefer) and Ginger Ale 4 six packs I rarely drink soda but I do take it as medicine. It helps settle a stomach and relieves a tickly throat and gets valuable sugar into a body that might need it. Do not use diet soda.
Stock or broth 20 cans Hot broth, whether it be chicken broth or vegetable broth, helps get easily digested nutrients into someone without much appetite. It also helps break up phlegm to make breathing easier and help relieve a cough.
Soap 2 bars or bottles It would be just awful to run out of soap during a pandemic.
Masks, n95 25 or more A mask isn’t really going to prevent you from being infected by someone in your house. You are already exposed, but if you need to go out, or someone needs to come in its good to have these to prevent spreading your contagion outside your home.
Nitrile Gloves 2 boxes Remember that these get dirty too, just like hands and they are not as easy to get clean. Wear them when things are gross and change them often.
Assorted teas, herbal and green tea At least 25 servings Hot drinks are soothing and help relieve congestion while providing fluids. They can also provide a bit of nutrition when you’re not eating much. Herbs in teas can help deal with specific symptoms as well. Cinnamon, ginger and mint can help settle stomachs (every stomach is different). Mullein and rosemary are good for chest congestion. Lemon balm, lavender and chamomile help you sleep.
Honey 16 oz. or more Honey is good for making medicines palatable and a spoonful of honey before bed helps relieve nighttime cough that can disturb sleep, at least for a little while.
Honey lozenges 5 packets Honey lozenges are soothing to the throat and help relieve coughs.
Zinc Lozenges 2 packets Lozenges are soothing for sore or scratchy throats and zinc helps our bodies recover from colds and flus. You don’t want to overdo it though, so look at the recommended dosage.
Tylenol 1 bottle for adults and one for kids Tylenol is good for lowering fevers as well as for body aches and pain. You should let the fever go for a bit because that is your body fighting the invader pathogen but work to lower it if it gets about 103.
Toilet Paper 4 Rolls You should have toilet paper stocked elsewhere, but sick people tend to need more toilet paper. You can get facial tissues too, but we just snuggle up with our very own toilet paper roll when we’re sick.
Hand sanitizer 2 large bottles, 4 to six travel sized Hand washing is best, but when you can’t wash your hands, sanitizer is the next best thing. Keep the little ones in your pocket.
Toothbrushes 2 per family member Tooth brushes can harbor bacteria. If you are sick, throw away your toothbrush and use a new one. Clean it with peroxide after every use. When you’ve recovered, throw that toothbrush away and get a new one.
Washcloths At least 12 Wet washcloths are soothing for fevers and necessary for washing up if you aren’t up for taking a shower.
Cloth diapers or rags At least 12 These are for general cleaning.
A notebook and a pen 1 It is a good idea to keep track of the patient’s symptoms and temperature.
Chewable multivitamins 30 day supply for everyone If you haven’t got a good appetite, you’re probably not getting enough nutrients.
A bedpan 1 or 2 Let us hope that nobody is sick enough they can’t make it to the bathroom, but bedpans man good puke buckets too.
Vitamin C, chewable or lozenges 30 day supply Vitamin C has been shown to shorten the duration of infections.
Your favorite books As many as you can If you read a book and like it, go ahead and stick it in your quarantine kit.
Puzzle and coloring books Several Quarantine is boring.
Art supplies, craft kits Several One day you’re going to learn to knit. Toss that “How to Knit” book and those yarn and needles you bought and never looked at again into the quarantine kit.
A heating pad 2 A heating pad may be soothing for some symptoms
Vapor rub 2 Very soothing for chest congestion and sore throats when rubbed on at bedtime and covered with a dry cloth.
Cool mist vaporizer 1 This will help with congestion and opening respiratory pathways.
Neti Pot or Nasal irrigation Kit 1 per person Nasal irrigation can help you breathe easier and relieve sinus pressure. Make sure to sanitize between uses and don’t share.
Epsom Salts 10 lbs A warm epsom salt soak helps relieve body aches and a warm bath will help loosen phlegm and make breathing easier.
Jello 4 boxes Jello is a refreshing and hydrating treat for someone who doesn’t have much of an appetite. Remember that bright colors are still bright the second time around and red jello stains. (Experience)
Diapers and Feminine Products At least 1 package each You might not be able to run out and grab these if the need arises, so have a bunch on hand. And watch your expiration date on the condoms and the sizes on the diapers. Even if you use cloth diapers and reusable menstrual products, if you are not well, you might not be up to cleaning them and disposables will be welcome.
Pet Food 2 Weeks Worth Canned food will last longer than dry food but you could store either, just watch your expiration dates.
Laundry Soap 1 jug Wash your clothes and the patient’s bedding and clothing frequently to reduce to spread and prevent secondary infections. You probably already have laundry soap, but this is extra.
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