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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Being Ready to Quarantine

Why Should I Keep My Family Ready for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

People who are infected with coronavirus or have been around someone who is infected need to stay home to prevent spreading the virus. This is known as quarantine or isolation. Someone might need to do this if they have a COVID-19 infection, were in close contact with someone who's infected, or have returned from traveling and aren't yet fully vaccinated.

What Do We Need to Be Ready to Quarantine?

It's best to prepare before someone in your house gets sick. Here are some ways to stock up at home and be ready:

  • Food and water. Choose food that doesn't need to be in the refrigerator and can stay good on the shelf for a long time. Buy canned foods and juices, rice, dried beans, granola bars, peanut butter, and dry cereal. Get baby foods, if needed. If you have pets, stock up on what they need.
  • Foods your family likes when sick. These might include things like soup, crackers, and fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Household supplies. Don't forget toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, toothpaste, and dish soap.
  • Medicines. Make sure prescriptions are filled and on hand. Get over-the-counter (nonprescription) fever reducers. Your doctor can advise you on how to use them.
  • A thermometer. Depending on your child's age, you might need a digital thermometer, temporal artery thermometer, or electronic ear (tympanic) thermometer.
  • Cleaning supplies. If someone is sick, regularly wipe down things that get touched a lot (like doorknobs, cellphones, and handles).
  • Plenty of hand soap. Using soap and water to wash hands when staying home is best. You can use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available. Safely store hand sanitizer and cleaning products out of reach of the kids.
  • Masks.Masks are important for going out. But they can also help stop the spread of COVID-19 at home. Indoors, anyone who is in quarantine or isolation should wear a mask when around others to prevent spreading the virus. Other household members should wear a mask when around the exposed or infected person. Children under 2 years old and people who can't take a mask off without help should not wear a mask.

The guidelines for how long to quarantine or isolate may differ from country to country, or may change over time as the virus changes or there’s new information about how it spreads. The CDC recently updated its recommendations for quarantine and isolation, but how and where they’re applied might vary.

To get the most updated and relevant information for your family, call your doctor’s office, your child’s school district, or your local health department. The CDC can help you find the health department in your area.

Reviewed by: Jonathan M. Miller, MD, Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date Reviewed: 05-01-2022

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