7 Ways to Decrease Your Family's Chances of Getting COVID-19

Here are some basic, easy ways to lower your family's chances of getting the coronavirus.

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Parents.com's COVID-19 Guide for up-to-date information on statistics, disease spread, and travel advisories.

If you're a parent, you've probably been glued to news coverage of the coronavirus (and the disease it causes, COVID-19). It's natural for parents to worry but, fortunately, experts say that you and your children can lower your chances of contracting the coronavirus by practicing certain safety precautions.

While staying healthy is a great goal, it's important to acknowledge that illness, especially illness caused by respiratory viruses, is not always completely avoidable. Parents should feel no shame if, despite their best efforts, their family still gets sick.

The good news is that if your kid does develop COVID-19, it probably won't be severe or life-threatening. Confirmed cases in children tend to have mild symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, severe complications are possible—especially for people who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions.

Even so, it's important to be prepared. Here are eight ways to lower your family's chances of getting the coronavirus.

Keep Your Distance

The coronavirus is a respiratory illness like the cold or flu. Contaminated droplets from coughing, sneezing, talking, or exhaling can travel up to 6 feet, and they can infect people by entering their eyes, nose, or mouth. The CDC says that airborne transmission is also possible when contaminated droplets linger in the air. This is especially troubling considering that a COVID-19 infection can be asymptomatic, and it can also spread before people show any symptoms, according to the CDC.

Though recommendations regarding social distancing have loosened since the early days of the pandemic, the CDC continues to recommend that people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and children under 5 years old who are not able to get a COVID-19 vaccine continue to take steps to avoid getting sick, including avoiding close contact with people who are sick and staying at least 6 feet away from others when indoors in a public space.

Be Cautious in Public Places

When you're in public, particularly indoors, continue to take precautions, especially if you or any of your family members aren't vaccinated or are at high risk of serious illness. Simple steps like wiping the grocery cart handle with a disinfectant wipe before shopping can help prevent the spread of germs, including the coronavirus.

Additionally, it may be helpful to monitor what the CDC calls COVID-19 community level, which is a metric calculated for each county in the U.S. that takes into account the factors like the number of new COVID-19 hospital admissions and total new COVID-19 cases in your local area. In areas where the COVID-19 community level is classified as medium or high, you may want to take extra precautions, as recommended by the CDC.

Wear a Mask

Official recommendations regarding wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have changed since the start of the pandemic. In February 2022, the CDC updated its guidance to recommend that people ages 2 and up wear a well-fitting face mask indoors when in public in areas where there is "high" community spread, regardless of vaccination status. The recommendations for mask-wearing in areas where community levels of COVID-19 are considered "medium" or "low" vary.

Though wearing a mask is no longer strongly recommended in all scenarios for all people, the CDC and infectious disease experts maintain that even in the absence of mask requirements, people should feel free to continue to wear a mask based on personal preference and their own level of risk.

So if you're the parent of a young child who isn't eligible to be vaccinated or have a family member who is at high risk of severe illness because of an underlying medical condition, for example, you may choose to wear a mask in public settings regardless of your own vaccination status or the level of transmission in your community.

While there are many factors that influence mask guidance, the recommendations are clear when it comes to active illness. Always wear a mask in public if you don't feel well, since the barrier could block your infected droplets from contaminating others. CDC guidance also suggests that wearing a mask doesn't just benefit those around you—it can protect you as well.

Teach Your Kids Not to Touch Their Faces

If droplets containing the coronavirus get into a child's nose or mouth, they can become sick, says Miryam Wahrman, Ph.D., biology professor and director of the microbiology research lab at William Paterson University and author of The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World. Encourage your kids to avoid touching their faces in public, especially if they haven't washed their hands.

Make Sure Kids Wash Their Hands

One of the best ways to lower your chances of getting the coronavirus is practicing good hand hygiene, so teach your kids how to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure they clean up before eating, whenever you return from being in public, and before touching their eyes, nose, and mouth. You can also use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol in a pinch, according to Dr. Wahrman.

Use Caution When Traveling

The CDC recommends delaying nonessential domestic and international travel if you're not up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines but gives the green light to all travelers as long as they take proper safety precautions and meet certain requirements. Check out the latest travel guidelines and recommendations, and use your discretion before embarking on a trip.

You'll need to weigh the benefits against the risk, says Dr. Wahrman. If you do travel by plane, wear a mask, avoid people who look sick, wash your hands often, and disinfect communal items like tray tables.

Get Vaccinated When It's Your Turn

With three approved vaccines that can help prevent you from becoming severely ill with COVID-19 available, there's finally light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic ending. All Americans 5 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (and younger kids may get a vaccine approved soon). Major medical organizations urge Americans to get vaccinated when they can—and get your booster shot when you're eligible as well.

Mother and daughter having a serious talk
Tetra Images/Getty Images
Was this page helpful?
Related Articles