I’ve never been a doomsday prepper. I don’t keep a bug-out bag — a phrase I’d never even heard until I saw the list of words added to the Oxford English Dictionary last month.
Whenever I think of those kinds of people (as I previously termed them), I’d think of delusional eccentrics secreting away canned food in some 1960s-style bomb shelter.
But my husband and I, both bright, well-educated people, have watched the news with interest since the coronavirus surged onto the scene.
The thing that kept bugging both of us was this question:
Why is 10% of the world’s population being quarantined for a disease that’s only supposedly killed a couple of thousand?
Not only that, its spread was dizzying. The sun rose every day on new cases in new places.
We started doing what I never thought we’d do before. We started creating a survival kit.
I’m glad we’d already started because the CDC, in a media briefing held February 25th, 2020, has confirmed my worries.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that we should prepare for the spread of the coronavirus here in the United States.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” she said.
They used the word “inevitable.”
Yes, folks, they said it’s inevitable that the coronavirus, a disease reported by the Chinese CDC to be “up to 20 times deadlier than the flu,” is likely to spread throughout our neighborhoods and communities.
There’s a difference between being fearful and being cautious.
Fear is an emotion. Cautiousness is an action. Fear helps us survive, but it’s not based on reasoning. When we think we hear a tiger in some bushes, we don’t think twice about how reasonable that fear might be. We bolt.
Cautiousness is different. Being cautious means preparing reasonably and rationally. You research. You read. You parse out fact from fiction. You make lists and prepare. You do not run to Walmart to purchase an AK-47 and 80 cans of peaches.
Here is how my husband and I have prepared cautiously.
1. Plan for a quarantine.
It can take up to 14 days or longer for someone’s symptoms to show, so if you are around someone who has it, you may need to remain in quarantine for up to 14 days.
The CDC just confirmed the first case of possible community transmission, which means that someone who hadn’t traveled or been around anyone who had been infected caught it. This means that a quarantine may be the best way you and your loved ones don’t catch it.
Think of EVERYTHING you would need for however long you expect to be quarantined. Prescription medicine? OTC meds? Anything else?
Businesses, health-care facilities, and schools may also follow the suggestions of the CDC to limit the impact of the illness (which may look like telecommuting, suspending classes, etc.), which means that your quarantine may need to be longer than 14 days.
Since we have three school-aged children, I’m a teacher, and my husband has an international job, my husband and I are planning for 60 days.
2. Purchase enough food.
The general recommendation I’ve found is for 4 cans of food per person per day.
For our family of 5, this means we would need 20 cans a day, and for 90 days, that would mean we’d need around 1200 cans.
That is a lot of cans. I know. We have been purchasing a little extra every time we’ve gone to the grocery store for the last several weeks. Now that the CDC has made its announcements, we will likely make a couple of extra grocery visits to get it knocked out.
Purchase food that you know you will use. Remember all of this planning will (hopefully) be for nothing. Therefore, don’t buy 20 cans of Spam that you will never eat.
Think: vegetables, protein, and full meals.
My husband and I purchased canned diced tomatoes, corn, green beans, baked beans, tuna, chili with beans, roast beef, beef stew, chunk chicken breast, peaches, and pears. Your grocery list might be a little different, but all that matters is that you hit the main food groups.
3. Buy a water filter/purifier or bottled water.
If your area doesn’t have great tap water, plan to make sure you have enough purified/filtered water. A water bottle with a filter or a water purifier and its refills will work fine, or just stockpile bottled water. You’ll need to think of each person having around a gallon of water a day.
For my family of 5 for 60 days, that means we’d need 300 gallons of ater.
4. Get some masks.
Most masks will not prevent you from getting the disease (unless you go with super expensive ones), but if you have it, you can help not spread the infection to others.
Flu masks are sold out already at most online retailers, but N95 masks are not (yet). N95 masks are what painters use, and they work just as well. They are still available at Home Depot and Lowe’s in many areas as well as online. Some retailers have increased the prices of these masks, but at least they’re still currently available.
5. Get hand sanitizer/antibacterial soap.
Basic hygiene is still your best friend when it comes to handling this and any other diseases. Be careful what you touch and wash or sanitize your hands frequently if you’re concerned.
It’s scary out there today, but being cautious is the way to handle this rationally. I hope these tips helped.