Editor’s Note: This information was accurate at press time. We’re continuing to update our coronavirus coverage as we learn more. Check back frequently for the most up-to-date information.
As more and more cases of the coronavirus continue to hit the United States, new restrictions are popping up. On Monday, President Trump banned social gatherings of 10 or more people, while officials in six San Francisco area counties ordered more extreme quarantines for its residents. And those infected or that that have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus are being asked to self-quarantine. With new developments happening daily, it’s time to get prepared. In the face of the coronavirus crisis, experts are calling for the public to prepare themselves in the event that they may need to be quarantined. This doesn’t mean that you need to hoard every last roll of toilet paper or spend thousands at the grocery store, however, there are some tips that you can take in order to make a quarantine an easier experience.
Parade.com caught up with a team of experts who provided us with these tips for creating a home quarantine checklist.
Start meal prepping
This is a good time to whip up a few recipes for foods that can be stored in the freezer or that can last a long time and serve as many meals. “One of the good things about this home quarantine is that we have plenty of time to cook, rather than relying on highly processed convenience foods,” says Lynell Ross, the founder/managing editor of Zivadream and a certified health and wellness coach and nutritionist.
Look for batch cooking recipes and stock your freezer
Certified nutritionist and author of cookbook Almost Keto, Aimee Aristotelous says, “Batch cooking is a common term in the nutrition world when it comes to weight loss and wellness, however, it can also be used to prepare for the recent pandemic.” She notes that employing techniques, such as those below, will ensure you have nutritious foods on hand, which have extended expiration dates.
- Most grocery stores have individually vacuum-sealed pieces of fish, chicken, and steaks in the freezer section. Since this isn’t a natural disaster such as a hurricane, use of the freezer should remain intact.
- While in the freezer aisle, check out the vegetables and fruits—frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh.
- For more variety, the canned food aisle has ready-made soups, sauces and even more fruits, veggies and legumes.
- Nuts and nut butters are calorie-dense and can last in your cupboard for several weeks.
- If you want ready-to-go delicious meals, dedicate an afternoon to batch cooking, making several small meals that freeze well for up to a month or even longer.
Stock up on shelf-stable foods (but don’t hoard)
Jim Cobb, a disaster readiness consultant and author of Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide says to turn to shelf-stable and freezer-friendly food items to make sure that what you’re buying has lasting power. “What we want to avoid is picking up a ton of foods that will go bad before we can make use of them,” he says. Cobb adds that there is no need to invest a ton of money in “survival” foods. Instead, concentrate on items that you and your family already eat regularly. This way you don’t have to worry about whether a new-to-you food is going to agree with you.
Plan to go without fresh foods
“Try to build up a supply that will last your family 2-4 weeks without running to the store. This may mean you’ll have to go without milk or fresh bread for a bit, so plan ahead,” he notes. For example, Cobb says, don’t buy a ton of meal kits (Hamburger Helper type items) that require milk or other ingredients you may not have available after the first couple of weeks.
Add a guilty pleasure
And don’t overlook the psychological benefit of having a bit of junk food available. “It can be nice to kick back with a treat every now and again,” he explains. So go ahead and grab that bottle of wine or pint of ice cream.
Choose foods that require minimal additional ingredients
“We like pouch soup mixes, like the Shore Lunch brand. They only need water to prepare, but you can doctor them up quite a bit with canned chicken, extra vegetables and such,” Cobb says. “Even without doing so, one package will feed a family of four quite easily and they are pretty inexpensive, around $2.50 when they’re on sale.”
Where to shop when everything is picked over
When your local Trader Joe’s and Ralph’s are picked over, turn to additional options. “Ethnic stores are often overlooked and can be great sources for staples like beans and rice,” says Ross. He also suggests trying large pharmacies like Walgreens or CVS for food and notes that big box office supply stores often carry things like hand sanitizer and snack foods.
Buy a water filter
Caitlin Self, a licensed dietitian-nutritionist in Baltimore says that investing in a water filter can go a long way in the face of a pandemic. “While it doesn’t hurt to keep a few gallons of filtered water on hand, a water filter, is a much better long-term solution. Look for filters that are capable of filtering rainwater, just in case,” she adds, noting that you can even keep a small survival filter pump (often used by hikers and backpackers) on hand just to ensure you have clean water whenever you’re near a water source.
Get ready to boil some water
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the United States has one of the safest public drinking water supplies in the world. It is not necessary to buy bottled water, unless you live in a city where the water doesn’t taste good to you,” she says. Per Ross, to save the expense or if you are just in the habit of buying bottled water, you can boil water instead, which she says can “kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa.” Boil for at least one minute, then cool naturally without ice.
Boost your stash of immune boosters
“The most essential items to have on-hand when you’re feeling ill are ones that will support a healthy immune system,” says Fred Pescatore, MD, a Manhattan-based internist. He explains that when your immune system is weakened, your body can be more susceptible to other illnesses so it’s important to take protective steps. “Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Magnesium and Calcium are key,” he explains, noting that you can find these vitamins and minerals in many different food items that are easy to stock up on. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are best but frozen options can work too. “
Refill your medications
Ramzi Yacoub, PharmD, chief pharmacy officer of free prescription savings service SingleCare, says that there is currently no shortage on medications. But people who are prepping for quarantine or concerned that they may run out should contact their pharmacy and request a 90-day supply. “The pharmacy can assess whether your prescription has enough fills to do a refill or a 90-day supply. If not, the pharmacy can call your doctor to get you a new prescription,” he says.
Make sure your kids are covered
“For moms, make sure you have baby food, formula and diapers for your kids,” says Dr. LaTasha Perkins, a practicing family physician in Washington, D.C. She suggests that parents think about their kids’ basic needs and to make sure you have those items. This includes everything from children’s vitamins to over-the-counter children’s medications to treat symptoms.
Stock your first aid kit
You never know when someone in your family may get hurt and with the possibility that hospitals could be overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, it’s smart to have a well-stocked home first aid kit. Take time now to replace any out-of-date contents and restock any supplies that have been used. In addition to basics like a thermometer, adhesive bandages and antibiotic ointment, the American Red Cross suggests stocking absorbent compress dressings, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, nonlatex gloves, rolled gauze, sterile gauze pads, tweezers and more. See their complete list of first aid kit contents.
Stock up for your pets
When it comes to a quarantine, don’t forget to stock up on any food, medications or treats that a pet will need. “If your normal supplier is sold out, try farm supply stores like Tractor Supply. Do not plan to just feed your pets leftovers from your plate,”says Cobb. He says that leftovers should be prioritized for family members and also that “much of the food we eat isn’t good for our cats and dogs.”
Take inventory of your toiletries (but again, don’t hoard)
Give thought as to how much soap, shampoo and other similar products your family uses in a month and make sure you have that much on hand. “You don’t need 197 rolls of toilet paper—unless you have some sort of medical condition which, if that’s the case, see a doctor,” Cobb proclaims.
Have some pandemic hygiene supplies on hand
“Good old hand soap is best. Hand sanitizer will work in a pinch, but don’t rely on it all the time,” says Cobb. He adds that it might also be a good idea to pick up some hand lotion, as sanitizer is very drying. “Masks are only for the sick, so while it isn’t a bad idea to have some on hand, you probably don’t need 15 cases of them,” he adds.
Make sure you’re prepared to work from home
As more and more employees are being asked to work from home, now is the time to make sure that you have everything that you need. Talk to your boss about anything that you may need and get this set up in place—i.e. call forwarding, a company laptop, etc. For anything that you may need to purchase, Cobb suggests heading to an office supply store or Amazon. “These aren’t things that are likely to sell out quickly, I wouldn’t think,” he says.
Get your social network ready
Keeping up with your community can be key to staying sane during a quarantine. Thus, Kristin White, a health and wellness coach in Seattle, says to use this time to find ways to stay connected. “During times of quarantine, it’s important we have social distance but not social isolation,” she says. She suggests finding a community of likeminded people with similar interests. “Facebook is a great resource for this. Interested in Vegan foods? Want to make homemade bread? There are Facebook groups for that. Always wanted to connect with people that also love to sew? There are Facebook groups for that too. Wherever your interests, you can find the community,” she says. You can also keep up with friends via text, FaceTime and by picking up the phone. “Without connection, we have a higher risk of depression which can lead to lower immunity,” White adds.