Preparing Your Family for an Outbreak

In my life to date, there has only been a handful of times that I remember a form of world crisis occurring.

I remember what was happening when my twins were in the NICU needing extra help to grow and stay healthy after being born prematurely. Hospitals, including the one we were at, were dealing with the H1N1 flu pandemic that was spreading quickly. I remember the entrance of the hospital had a mat on the ground to clean shoes and boots and they also had massive hand-sanitizer stations you had to use before entering the hospital. I remember thinking my twins were in the safest area of the hospital, but my husband and I, along with the family and my oldest son that wanted to come visit, were susceptible to getting the flu and spreading it more.

Now, we are facing another outbreak. The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is on everyone’s minds and many people have been quarantined in different countries around the world. Some people have chosen to quarantine themselves as a precautionary method. As we in Canada are on our March break, I would consider it to be a good thing, because let’s face it, little children are not quick on covering their mouth when they cough or washing their hands. Elementary schools quickly spread germs simply because of that.

So, should we stay in our homes, here in Montreal? Should we take the spring break trip we planned on taking? Should we stockpile our necessary items? Here are a few things to consider, as a mama.

Wash. Your. Hands.

Was this ever a problem, mamas? I mean, I’m pretty sure I wash my hands 200 times a day ever since I became a mama. But for children, that is a whole other story. What’s most important is to teach your children how to wash their hands well. It’s not helpful if the water is cold, if they didn’t use soap, and if they were done in 3 milliseconds. When my boys were little, we taught them how to wash their hands and added that they should sing the alphabet while doing it. If they are finished before the alphabet song is done, they didn’t wash well enough.

Sneeze and/or cough in your elbow.

Covering your mouth with your hand was the rule of thumb when I was younger, but now kids know that the best way to cover up is to dab. Coughing or sneezing into your elbow is the best way to avoid spreading droplets of bacteria to others.

Don’t touch your face.

For little ones, this is SO HARD. And I’m not going to lie, I notice I’m touch my face often as well. But touching your own face is a major cause for getting a normal everyday flu. So, try with all your might to not touch your face, and help your children with that as well.

If you do not feel well, don’t spend time with others.

Some countries are using many precautionary forms to avoid the spread of the COVID-19. The main precautionary action has been to cancel large social gatherings. But here in Canada, there has not been much mention of this…yet. With March break, many families are looking for activities to keep their kids busy. Are we staying home? No, not completely. But there are some other precautions we are taking. When we are going out, we eat before to avoid eating in large areas (movie theaters, museums), we carry and use (alcohol-based) hand sanitizer so we can keep our hands clean in between washing them, and we keep distances from others (even friends) and avoid hugging, hand shaking and kissing for now.

Even before this outbreak was announced, when any of us ever feel bad, we stay home, period. This request was placed in many school bulletins over the years. Taking a day or two to rest off whatever is causing you to feel bad is not just for you or your child, it is better for those that will be around you as well.

For more detailed, very helpful information and up-to-date news, visit the World Health Organization website:

And finally, I encourage you to stock your home with the essentials if you have not done so yet. As a child of parents that truly believed in having a stockpile of essentials at all times in the home, I was 85% prepared already.

Here is a list of items to have stocked up in your home:

  • Dry food (granola bars, nuts, crackers, think things with a long shelf life)
  • Bottled water or filtered water you placed in a reusable bottle (enough for each member of your family). As well, have a new filter for your tap water.
  • Pet food
  • Canned foods (soups, vegetables, beans)
  • Ready-made sauces
  • Dry pastas and cereals
  • Flour, sugar
  • Rice
  • Hand sanitizer (with alcohol)
  • Disposable tissues
  • Toilet paper
  • Washcloths
  • Feminine hygiene pads
  • Diapers
  • Any medication a family member needs on a regular basis (for example, a full asthma pump)
  • Plastic Garbage bags
  • Tylenol and/or Advil (depending on what you use)
  • Hand soap
  • Paper towels
  • Cleaning products (for your family and your clothes)
  • Cosmetic products you use daily
  • Disposable face masks (if you are sick or have to care for someone that is sick)
  • Disposable latex gloves


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