In the event of an epidemic that overburdens your local hospital, you and your family might not have access to a modern medical facility, but you’ll still need a way to quarantine sick patients. Setting up an army tent in the back yard would be the safest way to separate the ill from the healthy, but that’s simply not an option for most households. However, with some caution and few supplies, you can cheaply and quickly set up an isolation or “sick” room in your home to care for ill family and friends while reducing the chance of spreading the disease throughout your group.
Pick The Right Room
The ideal space for an isolation room is a guest room with its own bathroom, with windows for ventilation, and that’s situated away from the main traffic areas of the home. Since most of us don’t live in a palace with a bunch of spare rooms, you might well have to settle for an out-of-the-way bedroom with a bucket for a toilet.
Block The Air
If the electrical grid stays up during this bio-disaster, and the home has central air conditioning and/or heating, you’ll need to block off the air flow to the isolation room. Cover floor and wall vents tightly with duct tape. Never choose a room that has an air return for the AC or heating system. This could suck in bacteria and viruses, and spread them throughout the home.
Only one person should act as caregiver to the infected person(s). The caregiver should wear coveralls, a mask, gloves, and goggles. He should have a pair of slip-on shoes that are only to be worn in the isolation room and remain outside the door when not in use. Make an apron or smock from a large trash bag by cutting arm and head holes in one end. This could go over the coveralls as extra protection from bodily fluids, or to protect your clothing if you don’t have coveralls. When exiting the room, spray down your protective gear with disinfectant and wait one minute before disrobing from contaminated protective gear.
Outside the isolation room door, place a trash can with a lid. This will be the receptacle for anything contaminated by contact with the infected person or the room. Disinfecting spray should also be stationed outside the door. It should be used on the trash can, the door knob, and any potentially contaminated surfaces inside and outside the isolation room. If possible, nothing inside the room should come out. Dishes, cups, and utensils for the infected should be disposable and discarded in a trash bag inside the isolation room. Sheets and bedding should be washed in hot water with bleach, and hung to dry in the room if possible. A sheet of plastic between the mattress and bedding will keep the mattress from absorbing blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids. The isolation room should be cleaned daily, with all solid surfaces wiped down by a disinfectant. Have your patient wear a standard surgical mask to minimize the dangerous droplets they expel when coughing and sneezing.
Your patient(s) should have an easy way to signal for help, as they may be too weak to call out. A bell, rattle, or similar noise making gizmo should be with your patient’s reach.
How would you set up an isolation room with common household items? Let us know by leaving a comment.