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10 ways to prepare and protect your family from coronavirus

NBC consumer reporter Vicky Nguyen has tips about what to do to protect yourself against a potential coronavirus outbreak and what not to panic about.
/ Source: TODAY

With health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning on Tuesday that an outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S. is all but inevitable, what can you do to prepare and protect your family against coronavirus?

NBC investigative and consumer reporter Vicky Nguyen shared some simple steps on TODAY that can help prepare for any disruptions a spread of the coronavirus could cause. She also shared tips on how to protect yourself, as well as scams to avoid as sellers try to take advantage of panic over the the virus.

Nguyen'd dos and don'ts are based on tips from the Department of Homeland Security and NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar.

How to protect against coronavirus

1. Stock up on basic medicine

Buy medicine now for yourself and your children like pain relievers, cold and flu remedies, medicine for an upset stomach and liquids that have electrolytes.

2. Fill prescriptions

Make sure you have a supply of any regular prescription medicines you may need.

3. Load your pantry

Store a two-week supply of canned and non-perishable food, and enough bottled water for everyone in your family.

4. Buy cleaning and baby supplies

Stock enough soap, detergent and baby supplies to last at least a month in case there is any disruption in the supply chain.

5. Disinfect

Consider carrying disinfectant wipes or spray with 60% alcohol if you are often out in big crowds or riding public transit.

6. Wash your hands

Wash your hands frequently, scrubbing them for 20 seconds to remove germs.

7. Be alert to symptoms

Don't wait to see your doctor if you develop a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath.

8. Mind your phone

Regularly wipe down your phone to remove germs, and don't bring it to the table while eating.

9. Check with schools

Ask your child's school if they have a plan such as online lessons in case kids are kept at home due to an outbreak.

10. Call back-up

If you're caring for others such as elderly parents, have a back-up plan for them in case you get sick.

What you shouldn't panic about

1. Buying medical masks

Online vendors are preying on people's fears by jacking up prices of masks, which normally are $3 to $5 per mask, to $300 for 10 masks. Azar said there is no recommendation for anyone in the U.S. to wear a mask to protect against coronavirus unless you have symptoms yourself, are sick, or are taking care of somebody who is sick.

2. Chinese restaurants and businesses

Health experts say avoiding these places out of fear is baseless. Coronavirus is spread by saliva, coughing, sneezing or direct contact with people who are sick.

If you're planning on traveling, continue to check the CDC's travel alerts.