What You Can do to Be Prepared, Not Scared
Yes, this is an organic gardening blog, but I know that many of you, as organic gardeners, are very aware of food preservation techniques and are interested in ways to stay healthy on an everyday basis.
The current spread of coronavirus (or COVID-19) has created a feeling of overall panic and a “sky is falling” attitude in many areas of the US. My aim today is to give you some ideas on how to prepare for a possible quarantine, without stress, panic, or toilet paper hoarding (why toilet paper? I mean, really, what’s that gonna do anyway???)
This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your purchase price.
Do Your Research
First, and most importantly, please do your own research on the coronavirus. I’m going to stress this, and I can’t stress it enough: WATCHING THE NEWS IS NOT RESEARCH! I’m going to say that again for those in the back: WATCHING THE NEWS IS NOT RESEARCH!!
In case you haven’t noticed, the news media sensationalizes everything because
sensational = ratings!
A simple equation, but one that can send an entire country into a panic much too quickly.
Instead, look at the CDC website and other reliable sources. The page I’ve linked to is updated often with solid, reliable information and statistics, not figures taken out of context intended to frighten the populace.
I’m absolutely not saying you shouldn’t prepare. What I am saying is that only you can determine how much preparation you feel is necessary, but you MUST do so based on reason and facts, not sensationalism and fear.
What I’m Doing to Prepare
So, all that said, I’m going to give you an idea of how I’m preparing for a possible quarantine, as it seems more and more likely this will happen over the coming weeks to months. At least one school in my home state (CT) has already closed, although we’ve only had 4 reported cases of the virus state-wide.
I’ve spoken with someone from Italy and she gave me a bit of perspective as to what things are like there, where large regions are in quarantine and a state of emergency. She walked to the market to pick up a few things, and discovered a line of over 75 people in front of the market, waiting to get in. Only 2 at a time were being let in, and she was there for over 2 hours, just to buy a few things.
I tell you this not to alarm you, but to give you an idea of the reality of what a quarantine could mean in the US, and why we should be prepared as much as we can, but in an intelligent and reasoned way.
First and most important, I’m making sure my family has an ample supply of their prescription medications. My husband is a diabetic and has asthma, so I’m refilling the necessary meds so we have a month’s supply available.
If you do have someone in the house with asthma, and they use a nebulizer intermittently, be sure you have an adequate supply of that medication and that it’s up-to-date. I know here, we sometimes forget to keep that updated as he only uses it once in awhile. However, if your family member should end up with coronavirus and they have asthma, this medication could be very important as corona is very strongly a respiratory virus.
I’m also planning to get a couple of bottles (not a whole shelf full!) of cough medicine, fever reducers, and decongestants, just in case. Really, this isn’t much different than what I do in flu season anyway, but I’ll be sure to have a little extra, just in case.
For us, these would include pseudoephedrine (brand name Sudafed), acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), and possibly diphenhydramine (Benadryl), plus a liquid cough medicine.
**You’ll find a printable list of possible supplies to pick up to get yourself prepared at the end of this article. Obviously, this will be different for everyone and every family, but will hopefully be helpful.**
If you have dogs, cats or other pets (or even livestock), keeping a month’s supply of their food and other needs on hand is also a good idea. We only have cats here, but I’m purchasing an extra bag of food and an extra bag of litter each week at the grocery store, just so I’m prepared.
Again, I’m not buying massive amounts all at once, just a little here and there to gradually prepare, just in case.
If you have a bunny or other caged animal, be sure you have enough bedding also.
Used to giving your bunny or guinea pig fresh salad greens and not sure if you’ll have trouble getting them? They’re really easy to grow yourself! Check out my post on Growing Indoor Salad Sprouts here. It’s specifically about sprouts, but would apply to leaf lettuce as well, although it might take a bit longer for you to get a crop. Of course, even if you don’t have a bunny, you might want to grow some for yourself!
If you have larger animals or livestock, you’ll have to be the judge of how many supplies and foodstuffs you need. I’ve never owned anything larger than a Great Dane, so I really can’t speak to what you might need!
Don’t forget to stock up on any medications your pets might need, as well. Again, particularly if you have a diabetic pet, having a good supply of insulin, needles and other supplies on hand isn’t a bad idea.
Babies and the Elderly
If you’re caring for an infant or an older person, think carefully about any special needs they might have.
We have a friend with a baby who uses a special formula because of digestive issues. When he tried to purchase this formula where he typically gets it, it was sold out. Same for another supplier. So, he went online and ordered several cases of it to get them through the next couple of months.
It’s probably not a bad idea to have a few extra packages of diapers and wipes on hand as well, and don’t forget infant or child formulations of Tylenol, Motrin and decongestants.
As far as the elderly, you might need to think about special foods such as Boost or Ensure, which I imagine might soon become difficult to get as people start hoarding. (As of the date of this writing, both are available at Amazon through the links I’ve provided above.)
Toiletries and Supplies
Here, just general good sense should guide your choices.
I plan to have a month’s worth of toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, soap, shampoo, and cleaning supplies on hand. No, I’m not hoarding toilet paper (LOL!) but I am making sure we have enough should we be unable to get out to get these things.
Think about what you use a lot of on a daily basis. Maybe you bake a lot and use parchment paper or aluminum foil. Shop through my link or grab an extra roll or two next time you’re at the grocery store.
Spend a few minutes thinking about what supplies you use on a daily and weekly basis and make sure you have a bit extra of those things.
This list is going to be very different for each family. Because I routinely plan my dinner menu a month in advance, I already know what I need for the next month and can shop accordingly.
By the way, I highly recommend planning out your menus in advance. It takes away so much stress when you can just look at a calendar and say, “Ok, tonight is spaghetti & meatballs, tomorrow is chicken cordon bleu,” and so on. If you need help with how I do this, or you’re interested in my technique, just let me know.
We typically go through a couple dozen eggs a week here, so I’ll be sure to have some extra on hand. Eggs can also be preserved so they become even more shelf stable. If you’d like 5 techniques to try, you can find the information here.
As far as milk, you don’t want to get too far ahead, as it could spoil, but milk can be frozen if you choose (just pour a little out of the container first so it doesn’t burst the container when it freezes). You can also purchase powdered milk or even boxed milk to keep on hand, as it’s shelf stable for a long time.
This is also where your gardening and food preservation efforts have probably paid off. Do you have lots and lots of fruits and veggies in your freezer or in jars in your pantry from last summer like I do? There you go! The basis for side dishes, soups, stews and desserts for weeks to come!
If you need ideas for using some of that produce, check out the Recipes section of the blog. Just head to the main menu and hover your cursor over Recipes & Crafts, then click on Recipes when the dropdown menu appears.
I also have some bonus recipes in my Resource Library for email subscribers. If you’re not yet a subscriber, please head here to sign up. You’ll receive a once a week newsletter with happenings around the blog and occasional extra goodies. What you won’t get is spam, and I NEVER sell or share email addresses! EVER!
Do you dehydrate foods? If you haven’t yet, but you’d like to give that a try, you can find the guest post from the awesome Darcy Geho over at Preserving my Sanity on Dehydrating 101 here. Dehydrated foods are great because they’re shelf stable for a long time.
Canned foods are also shelf stable for many years, even the home canned variety. Have you tried home canning yet? If not, check out my 3 Commandments for Safe Canning post here.
Even if you don’t have fresh produce from your garden right now, you can still prepare by purchasing produce at the supermarket and either canning or freezing it now. That way, you’ll have food on hand if needed, and you won’t need to stress or worry if getting to the market becomes difficult.
Think about what you eat on a daily basis for snacks and goodies too. Maybe you’re addicted to Big Fig bars like I am (By the way, this isn’t an affiliate link, but it is a really good price!). I’ll be sure to have a couple of boxes of them on hand. Do I need them? No. Will they make a potential quarantine more pleasant? Yup!
Have a caffeine addict in the house? Don’t forget the coffee or tea (this is a nice collection!), or you’re ALL going to be miserable! Be sure to stock whatever sweetener you need as well. My favorite is stevia!
That brings up another point. If you have someone in the house with special dietary needs, be sure to have what they need. For me, that’s gluten-free stuff (like those fig bars). I’ll make sure I have gluten-free flour (King Arthur is my very favorite!) and snacks, plus gluten-free wraps for sandwiches (although I can make my own, if necessary).
**Don’t forget to check out the end of this post for a printable list of recommendations of what you should have on hand based on what we’ve discussed here.**
This came to mind after I read some accounts of the people quarantined on cruise ships. Honestly, I can’t imagine being quarantined in a little room without a window (as inside cabins are) for weeks at a time. Pretty sure I’d go nuts!
BUT, it got me thinking about what I’d want to have on hand if that happened. For me, that’s books (lots and lots of books, not that that’s a problem, my house is full of books!), quilting supplies and my sewing machine, jewelry making supplies, and yarn for crocheting (again, not really a problem, there’s a lot of that around here!)
What do you love to do to pass the time? Make sure you have something on hand.
Do you have young kids? How will you keep them from driving you nuts? Do they love crafts? Buy a few craft kits on Amazon and keep them hidden until needed. Love to read? Ditto with books.
When I started looking around on Amazon, I found TONS of wonderful-looking kids’ craft kits! This link will take you to a whole page full of them, from rock painting to soap making and more!
I don’t have young kids, but if there were a quarantine, I would ask my adult daughter to come here for the duration, as she lives in an apartment with a roommate. We love to play board and card games, so we always have a nice supply of those on hand. Bananagrams is one of our favorites!
Get creative! There are tons of possibilities for fun things to do if you end up confined to home for a few days or a few weeks. Don’t look at it as a problem, but rather an opportunity to slow down, enjoy your loved ones, and relax a bit.
I hope this post has given you some good and helpful ideas for preparing in a smart, nonpanicky manner. Remember, the sky is NOT falling and this is not the end of life as we know it!
Make a few smart preparations now so you can be comfortable and relaxed if things happen. And if they don’t? You’ve got lots of food and supplies available. It’s a win-win!
As promised, here’s the link to a downloadable and printable shopping list that will help you get what you need. You’ll also find it in the Resource Library, if you’re an email subscriber.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post. If you’re so inclined, be sure to share on social media.
Otherwise, smile and have a crazy organic day!