Life during a pandemic is tough, but these COVID-19 Essentials can help make Life Easier for you and your family. Stock up and stay safe!
We’re several months into the pandemic and we’ve realized that it’s going to be here for a while. Life has changed completely, in every aspect. Adjusting to the new normal is hard, but we have to make it work. Many of these changes are inconvenient and most of us may be finding it hard to get settled in this new order of things.
That’s why we’ve gathered a list of COVID-19 essentials that you can use to make life easier for you and your family – at home, at work or when out and about. You may not need everything on this list, depending upon where you are in life and how big your family is, but we’re sure you’ll find something or the other than can help make life easier and a little more enjoyable in this pandemic.
Okay, let’s start with the very first thing we all need – a face mask. Well there are all kinds of masks out there, but an average person does not need a medical grade face mask. The CDC recommends using a mask made of 100% cotton, with a tight weave and having at least two layers. Thicker fabrics with a higher thread count work best to keep small particles out. Masks with filters work even better – almost 35% better – than just fabric.
The fit of the mask is also important – it should seal the area around the nose and mouth, while also allowing you to breathe. It should fit snugly over the bridge of the nose as well as under the chin. The mask should fit well but not limit breathing. A flat front mask is less effective as it leaves behind a lot of area around the nose and mouth. Pleated masks are good as they expand to accommodate the shape of the face.
Stay away from masks with valves in the front. These let out unfiltered air, so if you are infected, those around you stand to catch the infection from your exhaled air. Get different masks for each of your family members, so they don’t get mixed up.
As mentioned above, it is crucial that the mask sits perfectly on the face, covering the nose and mouth completely. In case your mask is too keeps slipping off or does not fit properly in any way, you can use a simple extender. This is a plastic device that connects both straps of the mask. It has multiple grooves so you can choose the one that helps the mask fit you best. This extender also helps take the pressure off the ears.
If you wear the mask for an extended period of time, it’s natural that the backs of your ears will start hurting at some point. You can use ear protectors to ease the pressure on your ears. These have a groove on the curve through which the mask strap can pass through, and the material is flexible enough not to cause any pain.
It’s important to regularly clean your hands with soap and water, and if you’re on the go, to use sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. However, rummaging around in your bag when you need sanitizer can be troublesome, so it makes sense to have it in a more easily accessible place. This hanging pouch easily clips on to a buckle or bag ring, and offers instant access to your sanitizer bottle when you need it. If you get one made of cotton, you can wash it regularly as well.
Nearly all surfaces in your home need to be disinfected regularly, including hot spots like remote controls, door knobs, cabinet handles etc. Using cloth and water all the time can be a chore, and it may also not be as effective. Opt for a disinfectant spray instead, which you can spray and leave – no need to wipe. This makes life much easier, and you’re more likely to use it when it’s convenient. Keep a spray at home, at work and in your car.
It’s recommended to wash your hands for 20 seconds at regular intervals and even in public places. However, touching the dispenser pump may seem unhygienic, especially if it will also be used by other people who enter your home. Make life easier for everyone with a no touch dispenser that does the job without having to touch any button. You can also find a similar contactless dispenser for sanitizer.
Most Moms often have wet wipes in their bag – you never know when you’ll need them! Under the current circumstances, it makes sense to get sanitizing wipes, so you can quickly wipe off any surface you’re about to touch, like a grocery cart handle, or a public tap. They can help in many situations when water and soap is not easily available.
It is not recommended to use gloves as a regular habit whenever you go out, as they don’t really offer any extra protection compared to cleaning hands. However, there may be certain icky situations when you absolutely don’t want to take a risk – in such scenarios, gloves can come in handy. Always have a few pairs stashed in your handbag and remember to dispose off them carefully once you’ve finished using them.
For the general public, the WHO recommends cloth masks and not face shields. However, if you work in a place where it can get crowded or if you’re a healthcare professional, it may help to have some additional protection like a face shield. This is particularly useful for young kids whose masks may not stay on properly all the time. (The photo above is purely representational – you SHOULD wear a mask even if you’re wearing a face shield).
How long the virus stays on surfaces is a matter that’s still being researched, although it is believed that they don’t last that long on clothes. However, if you work outside the home and would like to go the extra step to ensure your clothes are clean and sanitized, get a laundry sanitizer. They are easy to use – just add it to the softener compartment and the machine will do its job. If using for babies’ clothes, get a gentle product that’s specially formulated for that purpose.
When you’re out and about, there are so many places you need to touch, like door handles, elevator buttons, ATM buttons etc. All these surfaces can be contaminated and wiping each and every one of them may not be practical. Instead, use a contactless key like the one shown here instead of your fingers. That way, you only need to sanitize the key instead of everything else.
Masks have become an unavoidable part of our clothing when we step outside the house, so make sure no one forgets their mask with the help of a mask organizer. Each person can hang their masks here so they remember to use them on the way out. Have different patterns or colors for each person so the masks don’t get mixed up. Hang them up by both loops so that the part that comes in contact with your face is folded inward.
13. Frozen Vegetables
While we certainly recommend buying fresh vegetables whenever you can, it makes sense to stock up on some frozen ones too for emergencies. Frozen vegetables generally have their nutrients intact since they’re frozen at their peak ripeness. So if your regular vegetable vendor doesn’t turn up or your area is turned into a containment zone, you’ll still have veggies on hand to use right away. Stock up on frozen peas, sweet corn, carrots and mixed vegetables. Alternatively, you can buy your own fresh veggies and freeze them at home.
There’s nothing like fresh milk from a farm-fed cow, but in times like these, we can run out of milk any time. For such situations, you can rely on milk in Tetra paks, which have a longer shelf life. If you ever find yourself out of milk for your kids for any reason, these packs can come to your rescue. The packs are in various sizes, so buy as much as you think your family will need in an emergency situation.
With everyone at home all day, including kids, people are bound to get hungry from time to time and demand snacks. Cooking up fresh snacks from scratch every single day is not practical. That’s why it makes sense to stock up on ready to eat snacks. However, watch out for snacks made from refined flour, refined sugar and other additives. Opt for healthy, preservative-free and naturally sweetened snacks instead.
Experts recommend cutting down on caffeine consumption when stuck at home. Many of us are facing sleep issues, and an overdose of caffeine will only make things worse. Instead, go for herbal teas like chamomile, lavender, hibiscus or peppermint. Each one has its own benefits like energizing, refreshing, calming or sleep inducing, so you can have the right one at the appropriate time. If you’re confused, get an assortment pack to try out different flavors so you can figure out which ones you like.
These days, we’re advised to avoid physical contact with others as far as possible, to avoid the spread of the virus. To avoid unnecessarily calling handymen or repairmen to your home, try doing minor repairs by yourself. Get yourself a basic household tool kit with essential tools to help you do the job effectively. Basic skills can be learnt from YouTube, but leave major projects to the experts.
It’s a good idea to have a well stocked craft kit during these times. Not only will it keep the kids busy, it’ll also come in handy when you need to do some quick upcycling or recycling. Such things may not always be in stock in stores or online, and it’s difficult to buy individual items as and when you need them. Stock up on the basics so you’re always prepared when the urge strikes.
These are days when one day blends into the other and we don’t know when the week begins or the month ends. Take control of tasks, appointments and chores with a magnetic planner that you can stick on your fridge. This way, the weekly plan is visible to everyone in the family. Having white board markers nearby makes it easier for people to make their own entries.
Having everyone at home is fun, but it can also be a bother when you’re trying to work seriously on something. If you have young kids at home or you don’t have a designated office space, all the noise can be distracting. Get some good quality noise-cancelling headphones that sit on your ear, so you’ll be comfortable and can put your complete focus into your work. However, make sure there is someone to watch the kids – wearing the headphones will also drown out sounds of the kids being in trouble.
If you have school going kids, it’s a good idea to have a multifunction printer, which also scans. Since kids are doing all their schoolwork from home, they occasionally need things like graph paper or map outlines, and you can avoid going out to the store every time they need something. This is also useful when you need a photo copy or scan for an official purpose.
With everyone studying and working from home, device usage is at an all time high, and all these devices need to be charged frequently. If you don’t have too many plug points at home, this multi charger is a life saver. You can connect up to four devices via the USB ports so that they all get charged at the same time and you don’t need to fight with each other for a single charging point.
You’ll agree that most of what’s on TV these days is toxic and not at all informative, least of all entertaining. With more people switching to OTT platforms for movies, TV shows and documentaries, it’s a good idea to get a device that’ll stream all of that into your TV. Since most of us spend a lot of time staring into small screens all day, watching shows on the big screen relieves some of the stress on our eyes. These devices also offer parental control so you can monitor what your kids watch.
When people are home for longer, there are bound to be more messes and of course, dust accumulates as always. Since maids don’t come as frequently as they did earlier, you and your family members need to handle the cleaning. Make life easier for everyone with an upright vacuum cleaner that is easy on the back and can be used by everyone from kids to elders. Get one with a hand held attachment to get rid of dust inside drawers or other difficult to access places.
Lazing all day on the couch may have started taking its toll on your health, and it’s time to get active. Although many gyms have opened up, most of us are still wary of going and would rather work out at home. Keep track of how much activity you’re getting with an activity tracker or a fitness band. These also remind you when you’ve been sitting for too long and can also monitor the quality of your sleep.
If you live in a small home or apartment without too much area, it can be difficult to find enough space to exercise. For such people, the aerobic stepper is a great idea. Just set it down in front of your TV and keep stepping while you watch. This is a low impact exercise that kids and even older people can do. If you’d like to take the intensity up a notch, you can check out various step exercise videos on YouTube.
When you’re outside, it’s quite likely that you’ll need to use the bathroom at some point. This is one place many people are scared of since it can be an oasis of contamination. Use a disinfectant spray or wipe before touching anything, like the door, lock etc. Use a disposable toilet seat cover on top of the toilet seat so you can avoid all contact between your body and the surface of the seat. The best part is that you can simply flush it down the toilet when you’re done.
Anyone who wears spectacles knows the difficulty of wearing a face mask along with it. Every exhalation creates a mist on the lens, making it difficult to see. While you can avoid it to a certain extent by adjusting your mask making it more snug, this might not always be possible. Moreover, it is not recommended to keep touching your mask when you’re outdoors. Instead, spray your lenses with an anti-fog cleaner that’ll both clean your lenses and form a coating on them that prevents fogging.
Using sanitizer or soap multiple times during the day can dry out the skin, especially since sanitizer contains alcohol. When you’re home, or before you go to bed, it’s a good idea to restore the moisture of the skin on your hands with a nourishing hand cream. Choose a cream that doesn’t have harmful chemicals like parabens or fragrance. Go for naturally hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, cocoa butter or coconut oil.
Since mask wearing has become compulsory, many people have reported suffering from ‘maskne’. This is acne that erupts ads a result of wearing the mask for long periods of time. Since the mask covers the nose and mouth, the environment inside the mask becomes humid, where bacteria can thrive and cause acne. Use an anti-acne treatment like a cream or serum to prevent and treat this kind of acne.