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Experts have been warning about this for months: Soon, we’ll start cold and flu season, with an added threat of COVID-19. And with children back at school, there’s a greater chance that they could be exposed to any of these illnesses, says Dr. David Cutler, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Being prepared means buying what you need now to help prevent a slew of illnesses from reaching your family in the coming months. Bear in mind you may already have some of these essentials around the house.
“Many of the practices that are being used for the control of COVID-19 are also applicable to the prevention of seasonal respiratory viruses, such as RSV, endemic coronaviruses, rhinovirus and influenza,” Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life.
Even with proper use of masks and hand sanitizers, though, it’s possible for a member of your household to still get sick.
Here are a few good things to keep around your house—according to health experts—as we prepare to enter cold, flu and COVID-19 season.
Stock up on face masks for the whole family at once with this four-pack by Quality Durables. Each mask is made of two layers of super-soft jersey.
“If one wears a mask, it decreases the transmission of COVID-19 and influenza,” Dr. Rajeev Fernando, an infectious disease expert in Southampton, New York, tells Yahoo Life. It’s a good idea to have masks handy in your home to protect other family members in the event that one of you gets sick, Cutler says.
Shop it: Quality Durables Adults and Kids Reusable Face Covering, $18 for four, amazon.com
This no-touch forehead thermometer is more than half off. And a good thermometer is crucial to have at home, Weatherhead says.
“Monitoring and recording temperature progression using a working thermometer is important data to provide to health care professionals when needing to discuss the ongoing illness,” she says. This option uses three different sensors to deliver reliable results. Just hold it a few centimeters away from the forehead, push the button, and get a quick reading.
A nice bonus: This vibrates when it’s ready instead of beeping, so you don’t have to worry about waking someone who is sleeping.
Shop it: iHealth No Touch Forehead Thermometer, $26 (was $60), amazon.com
Mr. Clean is back in stock on Amazon! This 176-ounce bottle of antibacterial cleanser kills 99.9 percent of bacteria. Use it to sanitize countertops, floors and high-touch surfaces.
“There have been many products that have sold out, so always keep cleaning products on hand in the home,” says Margaret Quinn, a clinical associate professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing. “There is no reason to hoard products, but use the general rule of using one bottle and having a second on hand.”
Shop it: Mr. Clean Multi-Surfaces Summer Citrus Antibacterial Liquid Cleaner, $26, amazon.com
“Face shields are regularly used by healthcare workers when caring for COVID-19 patients. And if someone in your house has the virus, it’s not a bad idea to use one of these when you come into contact with them too,” Fernando says.
Pair a shield with a face mask for maximum efficiency. This two-pack is reusable and anti-fog.
Shop it: OMK Reusable Face Shields, $9 (was $14) amazon.com
“It’s important to note this up front: A pulse oximeter won’t diagnose COVID-19 or the flu, but it can give you an indication if someone doesn’t have enough oxygen in their blood,” Fernando says.
This pulse oximeter slides onto your fingertip and gives a reading in seconds (your blood oxygen saturation should be anywhere between 95 and 100 percent, according to the World Health Organization).
“Typically patients with mild-moderate COVID can remain home during the course of the illness,” Weatherhead says. “However, if oxygen saturation starts to decline, this is an immediate indication to seek medical care.”
Take note: A pulse oximeter won’t work well if you’re wearing dark nail polish, so it’s important to remove any nail color before use.
Shop it: Zacurate Fingertip Pulse Oximeter, $17 (was $24), amazon.com
“Having extra hand soap is always important, as everyone should be washing their hands more frequently throughout the day,” Quinn says.
Stock up with this six-pack from Method, which features a pleasant Sea Mineral scent. The naturally derived gel hand wash is triclosan-free and biodegradable. And, most importantly, it gets the job done.
Shop it: Method Foaming Hand Soap, Sea Minerals, 10-ounce (six-pack), $24 (was $30), amazon.com
Both COVID-19 and the flu can cause a fever and aches and pains, and experts say acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help. “I prefer using Tylenol,” Fernando says.
Quinn says now is a good time to check the expiration date of the medications you have at home. “Acetaminophen—Tylenol—for adults and children is always good to have on hand,” she says. These rapid release gels help deliver pain- and fever-fighting medication quickly.
Shop it: Tylenol Extra Strength Rapid Release Gels, $10, amazon.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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