Your Ultimate Cold and Flu Survival Kit

December 05, 2019

A sick lady laying on a sofa

Be ready when a cold or the flu strikes by having a flu survival kit filled with these get-well essentials stocked in your pantry, fridge and medicine cabinet.

Have you ever found yourself shopping at the grocery store next to someone with a cough, sneeze or sniffle? Or maybe you had to go out in public with symptoms of the cold or flu to buy some cold-busting supplies. Cold and flu season can last through March, but with a little preparation, you can stay home, rest and avoid spreading germs.

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By taking steps to assemble a cold or flu survival kit, you’ll be more prepared for whenever illness strikes. Here’s a list of the top must-have items from our health experts.

What to Stock for Your Flu Survival Kit


  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Broth
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Toast (add some avocado, honey or egg)


  • Ginger ale
  • Pedialtyte
  • Sports drinks
  • Coconut water

Miscellaneous items

  • Tissues
  • Lozenges
  • Protective mask
  • Hand sanitizer (with at least 60 percent alcohol)

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Decongestant (oral or nasal spray): Decongestants shrink swollen blood vessels and tissues to relieve congestion. Some over-the-counter decongestants — those with pseudoephedrine — are found behind the pharmacy counter.
  • Pain and fever relief: Ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Consult your pediatrician for dosing in children less than 2 years of age.
  • Cough formulas (not for children under age 4).
  • Saline nasal spray
  • Cough expectorant (guaifenesin): Use to thin mucus in the bronchial passages.
  • Cough suppressant (dextromethorphan/DM): Use to block the cough reflex. This medication is for a severe cough that is keeping you up at night. Otherwise, do not take this medication as removal of phlegm from lungs should be encouraged.

Cold and Flu Tips

  • Take an cough expectorant with a “wet” cough to help clear secretions from the lungs.
  • Use a cough suppressant when the cough is “dry” and keeping you awake or interfering with your daily activities.

Keep in Mind:

  • For children, parents should consult with a pediatrician before administering any medicine. Cold and cough syrups can be dangerous, especially when given to children under 4 years old.
  • For adults, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication if you have chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.
  • For adults over 65 years old, ask your doctor about a high dose flu vaccination. If your doctor’s office does not supply high dose, it’s still better to get a regular flu shot than none at all.

It’s important to remember that rest, hydration and healthy eating are some of the most important things you can do to feel better and recover faster when sick. While no food or drinks alone can cure sickness, proper nutrition can support your body’s immune system and help relieve certain symptoms.

Other Items to Keep at Home:

  • Thermometer: Check batteries to ensure your thermometer still works every four months
  • Humidifier: Cleaned and ready to use


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