What To Stock Up On in Preparation For Coronavirus
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As COVID-19 (A.K.A. the coronavirus) continues to dominate headlines, causing fear and panic around the world as the number of cases continue to climb, the question that seems to be on lots of people’s minds is “what should I stock up on in preparation for a coronavirus outbreak?”
Since the outbreak began in January of this year, coronavirus has spread like wildfire from country to country. As of the time that I’m writing this, more than 115,000 cases and almost 5,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported worldwide.
In Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, more than 11 million people have been quarantined for weeks. The entire country of Italy has been put on lockdown after more than 100 people died from the virus in a single day.
In America, 19 deaths have been linked to a single care centre in Washington State where more than 30 more patients and 70 staff members have tested positive for the virus.
Cruise ships are being held at bay, sporting matches are being played in empty stadiums or cancelled altogether, concerts and large events are being cancelled, flights are being grounded and the stock market has seen some of its most volatile swings in history.
And no one is immune. The World Health Organization has officially declared this to be a global pandemic, and what once only seemed possible in history books and Hollywood movies is becoming reality for people across the globe.
Of course, it’s not all bad news…
Now, I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to scare you. But I’m also not sugar-coating anything. I believe that the more seriously we take this now, the more we can mitigate the damage in the long run.
While the virus does appear to be extremely contagious and death is a real possibility for some, by and large the recovery rate is promising for most people who contract the virus.
Still, governments, health authorities and individuals around the world are battling to contain the virus and stop the spread. Meanwhile, scientists race to develop a vaccine that, even in the best case scenario, is still months away from being ready.
In the meantime, people the world over are being told to wash their hands, avoid contact with other people and especially large crowds, stop touching their faces (seriously, I had no idea we all touch our faces so much until this outbreak!), and to stay home and even self-isolate to stop the spread of disease.
Those who have already contracted the virus are being placed under mandatory home quarantines while we try to get a handle on this incredibly infectious disease that didn’t even exist in our world just a few months ago!
And all over the world items like face masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper (of all things) have been flying off store shelves quicker than they can be refilled as people stock up for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak near them.
Watch: What we’re doing to prepare for the coronavirus/COVID-19
It’s better to prepare than to panic
People panic due to fear, but much of the fear around coronavirus (or any major emergency) can be alleviated by being prepared. And while it’s always best to prepare well before disaster strikes, it’s certainly never too late.
Homesteaders, by and large, understand this. Preparedness is a pillar of the homesteading lifestyle.
Even if we don’t actively “prep” for disaster, by nature of growing and preserving our own food, learning how to grow and use our own herbal medicine and just generally living a more self-reliant lifestyle, we tend to be more prepared for whatever life throws at us than a lot of other folks these days.
But still, in an event like this that can cause everything from quarantines to supply chain interruptions to panic buying and even job loss in a spiralling economy, it certainly doesn’t hurt to take extra measures to stock up on necessities for dealing with coronavirus, in the event of a possible quarantine, or to ensure you have what you need on hand if items become scarce.
That being said, 200 rolls of toilet paper and a bottle of hand sanitizer will not be enough to sustain you in a quarantine or during shortages.
So the question is, what should you be stocking up on to prepare for the possibility (or maybe even the current reality) of a coronavirus outbreak in your area?
What to stock up on for coronavirus
While rolls of toilet paper seem to be more valuable than gold right now, there are other, more important things you should be prioritizing in your preps.
Here are some items to stock up on now so you’re prepared if and when coronavirus hits close to home:
1. Prescription medications
If you’re on any prescription meds, it’s imperative that you stock up on them as much as possible right now. Aim for at least a 30-day supply if possible.
Not only could they become scarce (some prescription medications are being hoarded by the countries that produce them right now to ensure they have enough for their own citizens), but they could also become harder to obtain if doctors and pharmacists become ill from coming into contact with patients with the virus, if you’re quarantined or advised to self-isolate or if businesses and pharmacies shut down.
I talk a lot about the importance of having a well-stocked pantry, but never is it more important than in a time like this when you and your family might literally need to survive off of the food you have stored away. Luckily, many of us homesteader folk already have lots of food put away in our pantries and freezers, and many of us are also starting our gardens for the year right about now too. But still, would it be enough to sustain you in a quarantine?
What if grocery store shelves went bare? Would you be able to survive for weeks without groceries?
If not, you should probably think about grabbing a few extra items next time you make a run to the store.
Here are some food staples to consider stocking up on:
- Grains (rice, pasta, quinoa, oats, cereal, etc.)
- Dried (or canned) beans
- Meats (for the freezer)
- High-protein meat alternatives (tofu, lentils, etc. are really important especially if you’re vegan)
- Dried meats (like jerky)
- Canned meat (tuna, salmon, chicken)
- Baking ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, etc.)
- Dairy and dairy alternatives (milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, etc. can be frozen. Non-dairy “milks” like coconut milk and almond milk can be stored in the pantry along with dry milk powder (I just ordered this brand from Amazon)
- Dried fruit & nuts
- Fruits and vegetables (frozen or you can freeze them, can them or otherwise preserve them yourself)
- Fats & oils (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, lard, butter, etc.)
- Salt, pepper & spices (if you’re out of your favourites, restock now)
- Pet food (don’t forget about your dogs, cats and other household pets!)
- Animal feed (if you have livestock that require feed, consider them too)
- Luxury items (chocolate bars, candy, snacks… While these aren’t “necessities,” they certainly help to comfort people and boost morale in hard times)
- Coffee (if you’re a coffee drinker, you know this stuff is like black gold. So make sure to have an extra bag on hand.)
Water is life. It really is the most important thing to have on hand in both good times and bad, but we take it for granted because we have such easy access to it.
When it comes to stocking up for coronavirus, so far water isn’t an issue. All the taps are still on and there’s no reason to believe they will be shut off at this point. But you just don’t know, which is why it’s better to be prepared.
After all, if so many people fall ill that public and city services need to be shut down, that could affect the water supply. Likewise, while it doesn’t seem to be an issue, what if your local water supply somehow became contaminated? Better to be safe than sorry!
But that doesn’t mean you should make a mad dash to the store and buy out caseloads of bottled water.
Use the free resources you have on hand (while you have them)
We happened to have a couple dozen glass swing-top bottles on hand that we keep for brewing kombucha and other homemade beverages and liquids. So we sterilized them, boiled water and then filled the bottles with the boiled water and stored them away. You can also can water in Mason jars, which means you can stock up on water while putting empty jars to good use.
Of course, you could also buy bottled water, and if you have no other option, then that’s better than nothing. But while water is free-flowing from our taps, you may as well stock up on that and put your dollar to good use stocking up on other necessities that aren’t free.
Also, you’ll want to have water on hand for washing up, washing dishes and flushing toilets, as well as watering gardens when the time comes. A rain barrel or two would help immensely with this. Here’s how to make your own out of a garbage can.
4. OTC Medicine
While prescription medications deserve a category of their own (which is why I put them at the top of the list), it would be wise to stock up on some other over-the-counter meds right now too.
While we use mostly herbal medicine and natural remedies, we do also rely on a number of over-the-counter medications when we get really sick or for specific instances like fevers, headaches, etc.
Here is a list of over-the-counter medications you should consider keeping on hand:
- Cough medicine
- Cold & sinus medicine
- Pepto Bismol
- Elderberry syrup (or make your own)
* We’ve also been taking our own homemade fire cider regularly to help build up our immunity and ward off sickness.
5. First Aid Supplies
You never know when you or someone in your family is going to hurt themselves and having a first aid kit or supplies on hand is never a bad idea. It’s especially important during this crisis since hospitals and emergency responders may be overwhelmed with coronavirus patients (whom you probably don’t want to come into contact with either). In the worst case-scenario, you could find yourself waiting a long time for medical help.
Be your own first responder by being prepared with a first aid kit. It also helps to take a first aid course, although it might be bordering on too late to do that now if you haven’t already yet, depending on where you live.
6. Emergency Supplies
Flashlights, batteries, candles, lighters, a generator if possible… It never hurts to have these items on hand if the power goes out, and I must once again stress that there are currently no signs of power outages due to coronavirus, but anything is possible.
7. Toiletries, Cleaning Supplies & Baby Supplies
Okay, this is where you’re allowed to stock up on toilet paper. But not just toilet paper!! Consider some of the other important toiletries you will need or could run out of in an emergency:
- Feminine care products (another reason I love the Diva cup as I don’t have to worry about
stocking back up)
- Hand soap
- Dish soap
- Laundry Soap
- And yes, toilet paper
8. Games & Entertainment
While this isn’t a “necessity,” if you get placed under a minimum two-week quarantine, you’re probably going to get bored pretty quickly. And if you have kids, they’re going to get bored even quicker.
Stock up for coronavirus by making sure you have plenty of ways to keep yourself and those close to you in good spirits. Make sure to keep things like board games, cards, books, magazines and other off-grid entertainment on hand just in case. DVDs are also a good idea in case the power stays on or you’ve got backup power but television and/or the Internet goes down.
Other ways to prepare for the coronavirus
Aside from stocking up on supplies, there are other things we all can (and should) be doing to mitigate the spread and our chances of contracting COVID-19…
- Wash your hands (I know you know this already, but it’s REALLY important!)
- Don’t touch your face (easier said than done)
- Stay home! (Ask to work from home if possible and try to avoid going out and commingling with people whenever possible)
- Build your immunity (while there is no vaccine, we’re relying solely on our immune systems to fight off the virus should we contract it. People with underlying health issues are most at risk, so stay healthy, eat healthy and boost your immunity with things like vitamin c, elderberry syrup, fire cider, probiotics and fermented foods, daily exercise and lots of water!!!
- Wash your hands (again)
What NOT to do in light of the coronavirus
While there are many proactive measures you can take to protect ourselves and our families and be prepared if disaster strikes, there are also a few things you should not do. Here are a few:
1. Do NOT steal hospital supplies
Now, normally this one should go without saying, but with supplies running out at the store, things like face masks, surgical gloves and hand sanitizer are being stolen with increasing frequency. This puts hospital workers and the entire health care system at risk, which puts all of us at higher risk!
Leave the hospital supplies where they are and take the above listed measures to protect yourself instead.
On the same note, buy only what you truly need. Case in point: everybody has been buying up all the N95 masks from hardware stores and now people like my husband, who needs one to protect him from particles like sawdust and drywall dust at work, are now having a hard time finding them anywhere.
2. Do NOT believe everything you hear on the Internet
I know, another shocker, right? Even more ironic since it’s coming to you from a blogger. But the simple fact is that anyone can write anything online nowadays and false information spreads even quicker than the coronavirus, which has the potential to cause panic and even illness, injury or death!
Whether you read that coronavirus is a hoax (what?) or that it’s a sign of the apocalypse or “just the flu,” or that essential oils and natural remedies will cure it (I’m all about both these things but I also have some sense), that face masks will protect you (the standard ones won’t, only the N95 ones will) or that there’s a shortage of toilet paper (there’s only a perceived shortage because everyone keeps buying it up!), be extra vigilant of everything you read and see online these days.
Instead, turn to the scientists and health professionals like the WHO and the CDC. They are the best source of information at this time.
3. Do NOT panic
While I believe we should all be taking this outbreak very seriously right now, panicking never helped anyone. You’ll do yourself, your loved ones, you community and the entire world a lot more good by remaining calm and level-headed.
It can be easy to get caught up in the panic when everyone around you is panicking (which accounts for most of the rush on toilet paper). But it won’t do you any good. So remember to breathe and think rationally.
I mean, how important is toilet paper, really? When I lived in West Africa, we pooped in a hole and use a bucket of water to clean ourselves after. Sure, it wasn’t what I was used to, but it worked just fine.
Rags, newspapers and soft leaves are other options. Let’s get this in perspective.
Point being: get prepared now while you still can. Now that you know what to stock up for should coronavirus come knocking, you can remember to take a deep breath and relax. Maybe just grab one or two Costco-sized packs of toilet paper and prioritize the rest of your prepping to more important things. Leave a few squares for your fellow humans.
Remember, now more than ever, we’re all in this together.
Want more help with homesteading or getting prepared? Sign up for my FREE resource library and gain access to my emergency kit checklist along with other great resources to help you get prepared, stock your pantry, plant your garden and stay healthy in good times and bad.
Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂
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