Ok, so don’t judge me.. But I’ve officially joined the “Covid Virus Panic Purchase” club.
Did I buy a bunch of toilet paper? No.
I went to Bulk Barn and bought SEVEN POUNDS worth of herbs and spices. Whoops. To be fair, this is enough to last 6 months for most items, and maybe a year - tops - for the others.
In my defense, I was out doing my weekly grocery shopping, minding my business and not at ALL thinking of viruses or prepping... and two stores were sold out of *Garlic Powder*, of all things. Other herbs and spices too, but this was the one that was the tipping point for me.
Also, to be fair... our household getting into any prepping at all has been a long time coming. Very, very long time, actually.
Back in 2011, the North Minneapolis tornado that destroyed our house was a pretty big wakeup call - we’d done absolutely no prep work for any kind of emergency. We put it on a mental to-do list for sometime *after* we got on our feet and finished all the repair work.
As our move to Canada neared, we’d considered disaster prep, but decided that the odds were such that we were more likely to have to throw anything out, than find ourselves in need of any disaster preparation... so we put it off til we settled in Canada.
Then we decided to wait til fully unpacked. Then until life got settled, between business and my husband in school... and so on, and so forth.
If anything, moving home pushed disaster prep further down the priority list. Between the many safety nets here, the healthcare situation being covered, and just... not hearing gunshots at all since moving here, never mind just “no longer on a daily basis”... I don’t know, we just feel calm and safe, you know?
Of course, none of those feelings would help in the event of a natural disaster or anything, but here we are.
Disaster prep isn’t anything I’d really been concerned with, before the tornado... and it’s something I haven’t dedicated a ton of time to figuring out, since. Now that the Great Garlic Powder Shortage of Two Stores has me thinking about it, I figured ... there’s a blog entry in this.
I’m well aware that all you hear about is toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and face masks.... but as a logistics person, I want to be *prepared* if I’m going to do this. I figure other people are like me, and have no idea where to start, beyond “hand sanitizers and toilet paper”, so maybe my own brainstorming with be of some help.
A few caveats:
- I’m not panicking about the virus, and neither should you. You don’t need sanitizer showers or masks, so unless you’re immune compromised and have to follow a specific protocol, just wash your hands, cough into your elbow, WASH YOUR HANDS, and quit touching your face. This is all stuff you should be doing anyway. This will all pass, but those habits are ones you should adopt in general.
- The fact of the matter, however, is that the outbreak has already impacted commerce and shipping in some areas / for some products, and I expect that’s only going to get worse.
The garlic powder thing wouldn’t have bothered me, had it not been across brands, and in more than one store. I don’t know enough about production of it, to know if it’s a shortage issue, a shipping issue, a production issue, etc - all I know is that it wasn’t a matter of a product being on SALE.
- Due to the nature of the current issue, we’re focusing preparations on that, for now. We’re not made of money, we don’t have all the time in the world, and - quite honestly - I don’t have the spoons to think out all of the things we should probably be prepared for. As such, I’m not thinking about - or addressing - things like bug out bags (Which REALLY would have come in handy for the tornado!), storm radios, etc.
- What you need to prepare for - and how you do it - is going to vary wildly, based on a few factors. Some considerations are: budget, storage space, how many people live with you, if you have any dietary restrictions, ages of people you live with, etc.
- How much time you have to prepare is another big one. Ideally, I think we probably should have started before there were any empty shelves at all... but better now, than a bit later, you know? Having time means you can plan things out better, look for sales, and generally be more efficient about the whole thing.
No one wants to find themselves in hours-long lines to shop at cleared out grocery stores before, during, or after a big storm (as recently happened in Newfoundland). I know I certainly wouldn’t want to find myself staring at the last can of beans and maybe a can of tuna and wondering what I’m going to do!
- A great time and money saver when it comes to buying food for it, is to be organized. Think ahead of time: What meals can you make with less perishable items, and what ALL is required for those meals? Say you keep it really easy and just want a frozen meat and a frozen veg for each meal. That makes grocery shopping easy. Do you have enough salt, pepper, and any other herbs you need? What fat do you need to cook it in? Anything else?
While you could technically survive on unseasoned food, a little planning would help make this whole thing a lot more palatable - literally.
- On the subject of palatability, plan for some treats. Rice Krispy treats. The ingredients to make cookies. Whatever. You still want to *live*, and a normal-ish diet during holing up will make things a lot more pleasant.
I still remember out 6 months after the tornado. It was all fast food, hotel showers, etc. The whole experience was so emotionally taxing, that little luxuries every once in a while really helped morale. I would imagine that would go a long way here, too.
- I’m following an autoimmune protocol diet for the next few months, which seriously impacts my food choices. This also means that leaving things til the last minute could negatively impact my health, so... I’m definitely looking to avoid that! Time means less chance of having to make compromises.
- Due to the nature of my diet, I’ve been on pretty much nothing but fresh veggies, fruit, and meat - all highly perishable. For the purposes of *this* prep work, we’ll be moving to the same items, but frozen. I’m sure some canned goods are fine, but I’d rather go with frozen. Obviously, if we were looking to prep for weather, etc right now.. We’d want things to be more shelf stable. Definitely plan around your own circumstance - tornado season is coming up, if you live in an area concerned... lean a bit more on shelf stable items.
- Overall, my view on this is that we should have stuff on hand in general. If either one of us get sick or injured, it’s good to have backup. If daily use items cease production for a while, or shipping is interrupted, life will be more comfortable if we’re not, say, living without dish or laundry detergent.
I have no idea how many months one should plan for, but I’m thinking 1 month of food, 3 months for everything else. Food supply isn’t going to be universally impacted by any one / several producers closing/suspending shipping... however, if a couple sock factories or drug companies suspend operations, we’re going to feel it!
- You might already have some of these covered - I know we tend to stock up on certain things during sales, etc.
- Unless you’re living somewhere with an immediate concern of quarantine / supply, don’t go too wild. Start slow, watch sales, etc. There’s no sense taxing the system early, just buy a little extra of what you use each time you go shopping.
- Eat what you buy, and cycle things out. There’s no sense being well stocked, never using anything, and ending up with spoiled items. If you buy things you normally eat - or versions of them - and use / replenish a bit at a time, you’ll never end up with waste. First in, first out!
- I called for “LOTS of freezer bags” because a lot of the freezer items you can buy will be far more economical to buy in large bags. You’re best to divide those out into smaller bags and get as much air out as possible - not only is this more convenient when it comes to using them, it’ll make them last a bit longer. (I’m saying this as someone who CANNOT handle even the smallest taste of freezer burn!)
- I wrote the bulk of this a couple days ago, when the Garlic Powder Incident happened. Things have really blown up in the past few days, so I’d like to add this:
This prep stuff - as *I* see it, anyway - isn’t about being panicked about getting sick. It’s an acknowledgment that we are currently experiencing a pandemic, and that the best thing one can do in these situations is to do our part to not spread it.
It’s not about “I’m not worried about getting sick, because I’m not likely to die if I do”.
It’s about not becoming a carrier. It’s about not spreading it to people who are less likely to survive it.
It’s about doing our part to let the virus burn itself out, and not becoming branches of an epidemiological tree ourselves.
Events aren’t canceling prevent individuals from catching covid at the event, they’re canceling to prevent everything that comes as a *result* of whatever individuals might catch it at their event.
The more it spreads, the bigger impact it's going to have on society, well beyond the illness itself. Factories are closing. Jobs are suspending operations. Mortgages aren't going to be paid.
Stay home now, do your part to stop the spread of the virus, and let it burn itself out faster. No one has to panic. Being prepared to ride it out doesn’t have to be hysteria.
The more people who back away from possible exposure at this point, the less time it’ll take for us ALL to ride it out. “An ounce of prevention”, and all! Even just avoiding peak shopping times, or working out at home - rather than the gym - will help a bit towards stopping the spread.
Now, on to the base checklist I’ve been developing!
- Laundry detergent and related items (dryer sheets, etc)
- Dish detergent, related items (scrubby sponges, etc)
- Floor cleaner, glass cleaner, bleach, etc
- Hand soap, shower gel, hand lotion, related toiletries
- Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, etc
- Garbage bags, compost bags, etc
- LOTS of freezer bags
- Food wrap, parchment paper, foil
- Anything you use a lot of or rely on.
- Something to do. Books, magazines, craft supplies, games. If you do end up quarantined, you’ll need entertainment!
- Socks and underwear. A LOT of them are produced overseas, if the factories close... you may find yourself with holey socks for a while!
- If you have a home business, stock up on things you rely on, in case you lose access to them. For me, that means things like medical exam paper (for pattern making), thread, nitrile gloves (both for cooking and dyeing), packing tape, etc. I might pick up another ream or two of paper.
- Prescriptions - human and pet
- Over the counter meds (Pain relievers, cold/flu meds, antihistamines, cough drops, etc).*
- Vitamins and supplements*
- Menstrual care products
- Baby items, if needed. Diapers, formula, wipes, etc
- Think about your situation. Do you have arch supports you wear out often? Have an extra pair or two on hand.
- Exercise equipment: A few dumbbells and a jump rope may be a good idea if you decide to avoid the gym for a while.
* Probably a good time to go through your cabinet and see what’s expired!
- Pet food
- Frozen meats and fish
- Frozen veggies and fruit
- Frozen juices
- Protein powder
- Coffee/tea, related items.
- Cooking oils, fats, sprays, etc
- Herbs and spices.
- Condiments: Mayo, sauces, etc.
- Jars of garlic, ginger, etc
- Chicken broth, canned soups
- Rice, grains, pasta
- Canned or dry beans
- Convenience foods: If your family ends up sick, try to have a week or two of foods that are easy to throw together, and that you'll actually eat if sick. Ginger ale, soup, etc.
- Snack foods, whatever that means for you. For me, that’s dried fruit and plaintain chips.
- Diet-specific needs. I use a LOT of coconut milk, and there’s a powdered version.
- Baby food, if applicable
- Flour(s), yeast. The best bakery goods are usually self serve, out in the open. May be best to skip those, for now... but no need to give up breads. (I’ve got some great recipes on this site, if you want a starting point!)
That's about it, for now.
Anything I may have missed? Comment below with your suggestions!