Preparing for cold and flu season
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How to Prep for Illness: Health Tips and Emergency Kits

None of us want to be down with the sickness, but unfortunately people catch colds and viruses. According to the Center for Disease Control, U.S. adults average two to three colds each year and kiddos get sick even more often.1 And to add the cherry atop our regular cold and flu season worries, the United States has had 8.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases as of October 22, 2020.2 Dang! To ease impending stress and better cope with illness, we can put together a sick kit ahead of time. Think of it like an emergency kit for colds and viruses. Read on to get familiar with helpful health tips and sick kit ideas.

Prevention is key

I don’t recall a time when germs were more on my mind, and I bet you’re feeling the same. But we can try our best to stay on the healthier side of life with these suggestions.

  • Flu vaccine - One of the most important to-do’s on your staying healthy list should be a flu vaccine. The CDC states, people six months and older should brave a flu shot or flu nasal spray every season, with special exception.3 Though a flu vaccine won’t prevent the common cold or COVID-19, it could help decrease the flu symptoms, doctor and hospital visits, missed school or work, and even death. The CDC suggestions getting your flu vaccine by the end of October to receive the most coverage during the whole flu season.4
  • Wear a mask - It’s wild to think that a year ago wearing a mask around town would have raised some questions and lots of eyebrows. But according to the CDC, mask-wearing helps slow the spread of COVID-19, germs, and other viruses. So continue to wear those face masks.5 Oh! And don’t forget to wash them on the regular.
  • Wash those hands! - This is an oldie, but a goodie. Soap and warm water are our friends. So keep that relationship fresh by checking in with them often and for at least 20 seconds per visit. While you’re at it, disinfect around your home, office, and vehicle.
  • Keep your distance – Social distancing is still very important. I know we’re missing high-fives and friendly hugs, but keeping face-to-face contact on the down-low is considered one of the top ways to reduce the spread of viruses and germs.6
  • Move your body – Encourage healthy vibes within your body by eating right and exercising. Before it gets too cold, take advantage of a nice walk or bike ride. Or stay inside and burn some calories with free home workouts and keep your immunity on the uptick.
  • Healthy mind and spirit – Being attentive to your health also includes your mental health. We don’t have to live our lives in a bubble if we’re careful about how we keep in contact with friends and family. Video chats, phone calls, and social-distance-respecting visits can be a great aid in making it through the cold and flu season.

Sick kit ideas

With some peeps heading back to work and school and spending longer amounts of time inside together, someone is bound to catch a bug. So having a sick kit is a good way to be prepared just in case your household has to suddenly quarantine or if stores sell out of supplies you need.


It’s best to keep a handful of different medicine available for different symptoms. Here are some meds for the most common ones.


To keep our immune systems healthy, we need a balanced diet and lifestyle. When we get sick, our bodies especially need to stay hydrated and nourished. Double check your pantry for these food items.

  • Soup – Chicken noodle, Ramen noodle, vegetable or sirloin burger! There are so many soups to choose from! But the resounding healthy quality about them is they can help keep you hydrated. With runny noses, coughing and sneezing spells, AND WORSE, you need to keep up fluid intake when sick.
  • Beverages – Water, O.J.Gatoradelemon-ginger tea, or even Pedialyte will keep those fluids running through your body.
  • Dry crackers – For when that tummy is riding a rollercoaster, saltine crackers can help calm the queasiness.
  • Real fruit popsicles – For a fever, sore throat, or just to get some more fluids, a healthier popsicle can do a world of good.


When ill, you may just want to sleep. But for the times you’re awake, here are some options to help you pass the time.

  • Streaming shows – You can access a lot of programming when you subscribe to a streaming service.
    • Check out Netflix’s The Duchess which centers on a Canadian single mom living in England and dealing with the comedic ups and downs of raising her daughter, dating, and dealing with her ex.
    • Take a peek at Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi on Hulu. Watch the Top Chef host explore the diverse food traditions that have influenced American culture.
    • Watch Amazon Prime’s new sci-fi comedy Upload. In the future, people can “upload” themselves into a chosen afterlife. The story focuses on a computer programmer who is uploaded to his living girlfriend’s digital heaven and the suspicious way that he died. It really is a comedy…
  • Books (Free-$$) – If you’re a reader, check out free ebooks at or your local library with Libby. Would you rather purchase an ebook or paper copy? Find what’s popping on Amazon books or at Barnes & Noble.
  • Game apps (Free) – Want to exercise that mind? Then these free mind teaser games will help you stay sharp. They’re free and for ages 4+!
    • Sudoku – This math puzzle game is sure to keep you busy. Android or Apple
    • MentalUp – Tons of educational games but FUN! Android or Apple.
    • Word with Friends 2 – Play this fun word-finding game with your buds. And you don’t have to worry about germs! Android or Apple.

Core staples

These cold, flu, or allergy must-have’s should only ever be a few steps away.

  • Tissues – Whether you prefer basic, extra strong, ultra-soft or lotion soothing, a good facial tissue could help prevent a sneeze from going from “ah-choo” to “oh, gross!”
  • Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer – We’ve all gotten used to seeing this stuff around these days. When able, wash those hands. But if you can’t, use your hand-sanitizer!
  • Skin or lip protectant – For keeping your lips protected to even smoothing over sore noses and dry cheeks, a good skin protectant will go a long way. Aquaphor can help prevent and sooth chapped skin.

Premade for quick delivery

We’re in the digital age where you can order your chicken noodle soup, your fave Netflix show, and your ready-made sick kit from your couch nest.

  • The Sick-Kit – Features a variety of illness and overall crummy feeling kits that will hold your hand through colds, PMS, and even hangovers. They offer pain relievers, fever reducers, cold meds, hydrating beverages, snacks, soups, and more.
  • Golden Gift Box – Shop Amazon for thoughtfully put together care packages. Filled with a selection of snacks, teas, or brain-teaser entertainment books, these kits are sure to give some warm fuzzies. Tip: It’s up to you if you want to keep your kits in a basket, in a cabinet, or in a closet. But word to the wise, check those expirations dates with season or daylight savings time changes so you know you’re all good.

It’s best to plan ahead

Obvi, no one can tell the future. And if 2020 has taught us a lesson, it’s that anything can happen. So try putting a little extra effort into potential sickness preparation by getting your flu shot, wearing a mask, social distancing, being mindful of physical and mental health, and organizing your sick kits with meds, foods, entertainment, and seasonal cold staples. It’s additional work now that could very easily pay off later. Stay healthy!


  1. Staff. (2020, October 7). Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others. Retrieved from CDC: 
  2. Staff. (2020, October 22). COVID-19 United States Cases by County. Retrieved from Johns Hopkins University:
  3. Staff. (2020, October 21). Who Should and Who Should NOT get a Flu Vaccine. Retrieved from CDC:
  4. Staff. (2020, October 22). Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When. Retrieved from CDC:
  5. Staff. (2020. September 11). How to Protect Yourself & Others. Retrieved from CDC:
  6. Staff. (2020, July 15). Social Distancing. Retrieved from CDC: 
Sarah Sumner
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Sarah Sumner

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