As the coronavirus spreads around the world, many are preparing for self-quarantine. It’s important to know that mandatory quarantines have been extremely limited, and voluntary, at this juncture, is an extreme measure to protect yourself if you’re in an area with no reported cases.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to be ready. Many of the items that are useful to have for a coronavirus self-quarantine are the same items you’d need for the flu, extended power outages, and other scenarios that require hunkering down in the house. Stocking the house is simply good practice.
If you like to feel prepared and want to avoid the nightmare scenario of empty shelves in a pandemic, start here:
FOOD AND WATER Spend an hour or so jotting down how much food your household goes through in a day, then in a week, including pets. This will give you a good idea of how much food your family is really consuming, and don’t forget to account for meals that you frequently eat out. Every coffee you’d normally pick up on your way to work is now one you want to make at home.
- Water (In the case of COVID-19, it’s likely that if the water supply to your house is potable, it will continue to be so, but storing water is smart for many other kinds of emergencies.)
- Dry goods like rice, pasta, beans, and oats
- Canned foods with liquid like tomatoes, beans, tuna. The liquid can help to cook other foods in extreme situations.
- Canned and boxed soups
- Frozen vegetables, fruits, and easy meals. (Frozen foods are less useful in power outage scenarios, but particularly helpful during self-quarantines when your refrigerator remains powered. Don’t forget you can also freeze many other foods to help them keep longer, like bread and stews.)
- Comfort foods like coffee, chocolate, snacks
- Pet food (Also important to remember any pet medications, or sanitary items like pee pads and cat litter.)
PERSONAL PRODUCTS Again, consider the number of people in your household. These are all practical things to keep on hand, but sometimes, we take for granted how easy it is to pop into the store for something. If you’re avoiding public spaces, these are all useful things to have on hand.
- Antibacterial soap
- Hand sanitizers
- Toilet paper
- Feminine care products
- Prescription refills
- Contact lenses and solution
- Diapers and baby wipes
CLEANING PRODUCTS If someone in your household is sick, it’s important to keep surfaces clean. Think doorknobs and locks, countertops, railings, tables, window latches, TV remotes, game consoles, etc., etc. We are constantly touching objects in our home. Ideally everyone is keeping excellent hand-washing habits, but it’s smart to wipe things down just in case.
- Clorox or disinfecting wipes
- Detergent (especially if someone is sick.)
- Alcohol wipes for hands
- Paper towels (If everyone in your household is healthy, using your regular hand towel is fne, but paper towels become useful when germs come into play.)
IF SOMEONE FALLS ILL: For most healthy adults, the symptoms of coronavirus will be mild. But keep in mind, even mild symptoms can be annoying, and there are plenty of other bugs to catch like the common cold, the flu, streptococcus, bronchitis, the list goes on. If you fall ill with something other than the coronavirus, it’s smart to stay home while your immune system is fighting something else.
- Pain relievers/fever reducers
- Cold relievers
- Electrolyte drink mix
- Extra bedding/towels for changing and washing regularly
- Heating pads/ice packs
- Dedicated water steel water bottles for the ill to avoid mixing glasses
IN GENERAL: One of the less addressed aspects of being shuttered in the house for any length of time is that it can actually be quite boring. Make sure you have on hand what you need to keep yourself, pets, and children entertained.
- Games (if someone is sick, avoid games that involve swapping a lot of pieces. If someone is feeling ill but up to playing, verbal games are probably best.)
JUST IN CASE: It’s wildly unlikely you’ll need these for a short self-quarantine, but if you’re prepping the house for anything, don’t forget these essentials:
- First Aid kit
- Water purifying tablets
- Long burning candles
- Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio
- Manual can opener
- Trash bags
For many of you, these items may well already be stocked in your house. For others, it could be a good moment to consider how prepared you are. Self-quarantine is an extreme measure for most people, but being prepared, no matter what the emergency, is just good sense.