As of March 23, 2020, 47 out of 50 states required schools to close, and all but 5 placed restrictions on restaurants and bars. Perhaps even daily as you read this, more changes have been added. Twenty states put new regulations in effect that restrict gatherings, and 22 have statewide mandatory quarantine policies in place. Many individual counties sanctioned stricter measures, which include shelter-in-place rules to restrict movement—all in hopes of decreasing the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
These restrictions have also created alarm among the general public, resulting in panic purchases that have led to unnecessary shortages. The continuation of panic buying could lower their ability to pay bills at a time when income is rapidly disappearing due to mass closures.
While a quarantine order requires residents to shelter-in-place, it also comes with a number of exceptions that allow citizens access to essential services and goods. Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, hospitals, and other essential services remain open.
Most quarantine orders last between 14 and 21 days. During this time, consumers can make trips to the store to secure needed items at any time.
There is no known impact on the water supply or electric grid, eliminating the need to stockpile water or hook up an emergency generator. There should be no reason why any household is out of toilet paper and here’s why.
Food and Staples: Purchase three to four weeks’ worth of food. Buying non-perishable items like beans, rice, and pasta, will lower food costs, and the food will last well beyond the pandemic if there is a surplus. Fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables only last a few days, making frozen or canned alternatives a better option when stocking up. Lastly, milk does not freeze and only lasts a week or so, where milk alternatives such as almond, cashew and other plant based milks will last a month or longer. Plant based milks have an incredibly large variety these days and some do not need to be refrigerated until opening.
Reduce the risk of exposure and save money by extending shopping trips to every other week and use online ordering and curbside pickup to eliminate the need to enter the store.
First Aid Supplies: Beyond a traditional first aid kit, have enough over the counter medications to treat a fever, cold, or flu along with filling prescriptions for 30 to 90 days.
Toiletries and Cleaning Supplies: The industry is not facing a shortage at this time. Producers, manufacturers, and transportation channels are operating at capacity, eliminating the need to hoard essential household and cleaning supplies.
Household items you should have on hand include soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, toothpaste, paper towels, and toilet paper (9 double rolls per person for a 30-day supply). Plus, any special needs which might include diapers, contact solution, hearing aid batteries, and so forth.
Cleaning supplies should include a disinfectant, disposable gloves, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and other household cleaning items. Because the virus can remain active on surfaces for up to three days (not hours), it is vital to disinfect commonly touched areas like doorknobs and countertops daily, in addition to the usual cleaning routine.
The CDC warns that the coronavirus can spread through the air for up to three hours and remain active on plastic and stainless steel for up to three days. It can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, potentially exposing consumers who receive delivered packages.
Have a care plan in place in case of illness: If a family member gets sick, consider not only their care, but how to protect other family members from the disease. What will the isolation procedures be, and who will care for the sick family member? Also, have a plan for the care of minor children should the primary caregiver become ill.
As a precaution, secure a comprehensive list of all medications taken by each person in the household along with emergency contact information, and a health care directive. Gather medical records for anyone in a high-risk category.
Hoarding and panic purchases are not sound emergency planning. While the crisis has created a lot of fear, it has not disrupted supply chains, eliminating the need to hoard food and household supplies. Everyone facing a mandatory quarantine should think in terms of buying the minimum amount of food and supplies required for a period of two to three weeks. Families can leave home to acquire any items that run low.
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