Just about a month ago when the country crossed 8 lakh mark, little did I know that this deadly virus was going to knock on my doors. A house of 6 including house help, all five tested positive apart from me. A miracle isn't it?
My experience wasn't the way I anticipated but it was one of a kind to which I would not wish to recall. It all started my family members began to complain of fever, taste changes, loss of smell and shortness of breath with intense body aches.
Peculiar symptoms when body temperature not rising above 100-degree Fahrenheit and these symptoms were on for a week. But there were no signs of cough and sore throat. Once things started to settle in my house, I decided to create an emergency COVID kit which wasn't just handy but effective during the time of crisis.
So, what are the tools needed to fight COVID 19 once you are under home isolation? I fondly call it my 'COVID emergency kit'. Having said that, we all have to still follow all protocols and maintain the rules of social distancing and maintain personal hygiene of handwashing, sanitising etc.
I, personally, ensure that with the help of the emergency COVID kit and other precautions we are ready to battle the deadly virus.
Here's a sneak peek into my COVID emergency kit:
1. Pulse Oximeter
By now we all know that COVID affects our lungs where the virus multiplies rapidly and causes shortness of breath. It is critical for each one of us to prevent the onset of Acute Respiratory Distress or Pneumonia if infected with this virus. But how do we monitor it? Being a health practitioner and reading on various community resources, I decided to buy a Pulse oximeter.
What is Pulse Oximeter?
It is a small portable device which you can keep in your emergency kit and measure infected person pulse rate and SpO2 levels within a matter of seconds. This device is of great help as it helps one to respond quickly if the levels go low.
A SpO2 reading is an estimation of the amount of oxygen in our blood. A SpO2 reading of 95% or greater is generally considered to be within a normal range. Anything below 92% or less (at a sea level) which we are! suggests that our blood is poorly saturated and oxygen levels are insufficient. When the levels drop below that range, we know we need to seek medical help.
All you need is place your finger in this mouse size device and wait for 5-10 seconds. This device simultaneously shows our pulse rate. A measure by which we can find how many times our heart contract per minute.
According, to health professionals, anything between 60 and 100 beats per minute is considered normal. Fortunately, in my case, everyone's readings were all within the range
Cost: This small device which costs less than Rs 4,500 comes really handy.
2. Oxygen Cylinder
We do not have ventilators at home? Neither are many of us are trained medical professionals, so keeping a portable cylinder comes handy while one can seek medical help. Oxygen cylinder comes handy because you can immediately provide oxygen if need be. At least the oxygen levels will not drop any further. Please keep some with you, my kit is incomplete without a portable oxygen cylinder.
I didn't have a portable oxygen cylinder with me at the time but I managed to stock 3-4 bottles for safety.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide:
As a COVID caregiver, I made my own sanitiser. Fortunately, I had few spray bottles and hydrogen peroxide bottles with me.
I created my own spray to disinfect the air in the house and rooms and used them on kitchen bench, door handles, vegetables, fruits and other necessary equipment at home.
How to make hand sanitiser at home?
Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent but it is also an antiseptic. In a 3-liter spray bottle, I added 10% hydrogen peroxide liquid, 80 ml alcohol and 2 tablespoon glycerin and in the rest, I added 2.5 liters of water and made my own spray at home. You can find some amazing recipes on the Health Ministry website or credible Health organisations page.
4. Gloves and Mask
Wear gloves to protect yourself and wear mask. Every day, there is something new about covid 19 virus. We now know, it is airborne and it can stay in the air for about 7 hours. So, protect yourself with a mask and also save others. If you are a COVID caregiver or a COVID warrior always keep a mask with you. And wash if need be.
Gloves and washing hands where needed are mandatory. Remember, do not discard your gloves in your general household waste. You need to contact MCD to trash your COVID contaminated disposals, separately.
Keep a thermometer. If body temperature is going above 99 degrees Fahrenheit please contact your medical professional immediately.
Boosting immunity is key during this time of= the year. Remember to continue this process irrespective of being tested negative. I cannot suggest any antibiotics or medication on a social platform as every individual case is different but I do suggest keeping some vitamin c, zinc capsules and also vitamin D. These supplements should be consumed every day to build immunity but you must also keep some in your kit.
7. List of emergency numbers:
Trust me this list works, don't rely on your phone contacts and do not write on a piece of paper and stick to your fridge door only but also add this list and keep it in your tool kit. This was something which worked for me.
I had updated numbers of a general physician, nearest COVID / government hospital number, helpline number, numbers of some close friends and family, work colleagues, ambulance number, MCD number and a transport help number ( could be a friend who is keen to take you to the hospital at the time of emergency, of course still being protected or a reliable taxi service.)
Please make sure you keep some sanitiser spray bottles or prepare your own sanitizer using WHO or any health departments website. It must have alcohol, a humectant and a disinfectant. Keeping some at home and some in your emergency kit helps greatly.
You do not have to run around your house to find a bottle after helping a COVID warrior in the house, coming to your emergency tool kit. This way, each time you assist a COVID warrior with all medical help you can sanitise your hands immediately. Actually, I had a sanitizer in my lanyard which kept hanging on my neck all day. I fondly called it my COVID necklace.
9. Get your MCD number:
Most MCD will contact you after your COVID test but keeping your MCD number is important. I had to personally call them to understand where to throw COVID waste like used gloves, masks etc and understand government protocols. We all are responsible citizens; we should not be mixing medical waste with general waste in order to prevent the spread of COVID 19 in the community.
These are my emergency kit items, if you have any ideas please add it to your kit and keep it handy and do share the knowledge with everyone around.
I request each one of you, do not judge anyone battling COVID 19 virus, do not discriminate. Remember, we need to distance socially but not digitally. We all need support because COVID 19 can knock anyone's door.
Disclaimer: Above information is generic advice to everyone and a reminder of few things to stock up during COVID infestation. This isn't solely about immunity building. COVID 19 can affect your social, mental and physical wellbeing during sickness.
(About the author: This is a guest article by Swati Bathwal, an accredited practising Dietitian Nutritionist and Public Health Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, an accredited Anthropometrist and a registered Yoga Teacher.)