Prevention in the home

While congregations provide critical meeting places and opportunities to care for each other, they also provide a fertile place for viruses to be spread every flu season—and especially in the event of a pandemic. But within the home environment individuals and families have many more contacts and exposures to such viruses—both for becoming infected and infecting others—than a few times a week in a congregational setting. It is important, therefore, that individuals and families also learn and apply practices and disciplines that can help prevent or reduce the risk and impact of both seasonal influenza and pandemic influenza at home and in their daily lives.

The list of preventative practices are similar to those that congregations and their staffs and care-giving volunteers should adopt (see also Prevention In the Congregation and coronavirus information sheets including symptoms and when to see a doctor in English, French, Spanish, Punjabi, Chinese, Farsi and Vietnamese at HealthLink BC.

General preventative practices:

  1. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with use of soap and warm water and use hand sanitizers when it is not possible to wash hands (small applicators are available for pocket or purse). Teach your children to do this as well. Note: Hand sanitizers do not replace the need for washing.
  2. Practice good respiratory etiquette. Cough and sneeze into a tissue, if possible, or into your upper sleeve if tissue not available—not into your hand. Also wash or sanitize hands as soon as possible after coughing, sneezing or blowing you nose. Discard the tissue into a waste receptacle immediately. Empty waste receptacles regularly, using rubber gloves.
  3. Regularly clean commonly used surfaces in the home such as counters, door hardware, railings, computer keyboards and mice, remote controls, elevator buttons, telephones, faucets, etc. Use disposable gloves, and discard when finished. Also thoroughly wash hands or use a hand sanitizer afterwards.


Public Safety Canada promotes Family Preparedness for all emergencies and Disasters through the 72-Hour Preparedness Plan; while much of the Guide relates to non-health related emergencies, much is also pertinent to a public health emergency: 

Americans can find helpful resources from FEMA

Other considerations

Be prepared to make alternate childcare arrangements, since daycares and schools may temporarily close.

  1. Reassure children, initiate discussion and do not assume that children will not become aware or concerned about pandemic news coverage: Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to Talk to Your Child
  2. Have a contingency plan if you use public transportation. Services such as bus, trains, subways and other forms of public transportation may be seriously disrupted as staff book off sick.
  3. Become familiar with your local community or municipal pandemic plan.
    Pandemic Influenza Plan for the Health Sector (Canada)
    A Guide For Community and Faith-Based Organizations (CDC)   
  4. Familiarize yourself with best flu care tips for ill children.
    Influenza in Children from the Canadian Paediatric Society
    Taking Care of a Sick Person in Your Home from the CDC
  5. Have an emergency plan. See also the Family Checklist on the Checklists page.
    Family Emergency Health Infosheet
    Federal and provincial/territorial pandemic plans
  6. Get a flu shot – especially important for :
    Children ages 6 – 23 months
    Adults and children with chronic heart and lung disease
    Anyone living in a nursing home or chronic care facility
    People 65 years of age and older
    People with chronic conditions such as diabetes, anemia, cancer, immune suppression, HIV of kidney disease
    Children and adolescents on long-term acetylsalicylic (ASA) therapy
    Healthcare workers, other caregivers and household contacts capable of transmitting influenza to the above at-risk groups, and people at high risk of influenza complications who are travelling to areas where the flu virus is likely to be circulating.
    See also: Health Canada: Immunization & Vaccines
  7. Know the difference between seasonal flu and pandemic flu. During seasonal flu, deaths per year average approximately 4,000 in Canada and 36,000 in the USA. In the event of a pandemic, the number of deaths could be quite high (between 11,000 and 58,000 in Canada based on a virus causing illness in 15 – 35% of population). Info on seasonal flu (WHO)

During a pandemic:

  1. Stay home if you are sick, or keep children home if they are sick; in a pandemic, you should minimize contact with other people. Understand your work-sick benefits at work or in private plans.
  2. In a pandemic, practice social distancing: avoid handshaking, unnecessary kissing and hugging. Persons who become ill can transmit infection for up to one day before the onset of illness, and up to seven days before showing symptoms (depending on flu strain).  However the greatest risk for passing on a virus is during the first two days of illness.
  3. Check and follow Travel Health Advisories if leaving the country.
    1. United States: CDC - Travelers' Health Page
    2. Canadian Travel Health Advisories