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March 16, 2020

Calming the Coronavirus Jitters

Coronavirus is here. And it's going to get worse. We need to respond sensibly and calmly but people are like sheep. Not all, but many. They react with panic when they see pictures of stores with empty shelves. That starts panic buying - "OMG I have to get toilet paper, sanitizer, food before it all runs out"

So they race to the store with NO PLAN in place! They fill their carts with as much toilet paper as fits, they race to get to the cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers before someone else gets there ahead of them.

If you are among this group, STOP. These should be your steps:

1. Take inventory. How much Toilet Paper do you have on hand? How many cans of soup? Etc.

2. Calculate roughly how much of essential items you need for your family for 2 weeks.

3. If you don't have enough, stay calm and either order online or go to a nearby store but ONLY buy what you need to top up your existing supplies for 2 weeks.

What Did Our Ancestors Do? 

There have been many plagues. pandemics and other frightening crisis situations over the centuries. Our ancestors did not have the medicines we have, they did not have easy access to nearby stores carrying goods they needed, and there were no safe alternatives to venturing out and risking contamination. We have online shopping. We have refrigeration for safe storage of frozen and perishable foods (keeping in mind that electricity could fail). Panic is the worst thing you can allow yourself to give in to.

Start Now To Prepare for the Future

If folks had taken heed over the past several years to the warnings and suggestions to always keep an emergency supply of essential items such as non-perishable foods, medicines, flashlights, batteries, and so on, there would be NO panic buying because every household would have on hand a 2 week supply!

And please don't respond saying "Not everyone has the money to do this!" because that excuse is, to put it bluntly, crap.

I Don't Have The Money to Buy Emergency Storage Items!

That's nonsense. Here's how you do it, no matter what your finances are:

Buy one extra food item each time you shop. Toss in one cup of Mr. Noodles ($1.00 here in Canada). Toss in an extra can of beans. Maybe you can add a bag of pasta or rice. It doesn't matter just add that one item each week, or monthly. If you shop monthly, add 4 items. By the end of the year you'll have 50 or more items in your Emergency storage area.

Yes this suggestion is specifically for food items but you can use the same mind-set for other things you might need in a crisis situation. Create an Emergency plan and area in your home to store items, then work towards your goals. Do you want to store 2 weeks of items or 6 months? That is your choice and no matter what you decide realize it can take months or years to reach a long-term Emergency goal. But it is never too late to start.

Making a Plan

Come up with a Plan B in case Plan A isn't going to work. What would you do if there was no electricity or heat? Do you have an alternate cooking or heating method? Think about these things, make your Plan(s) and relax!

Having a Plan provides relief from stress and that is what we all need right now.

We are preppers so I always have a 2-3 month supply of essential needs - medicines, cleaning materials, food and so on. That includes food and medicines for our two dogs.

When I first saw word back in late December, early January of this new serious virus, I inventoried my supplies to see what, if anything, I need to top up. The idea of this kind of Emergency storage is you don't touch those items if there is no emergency, but humans being what we are, sometimes we are caught short and grab a bag of pasta or can of beans or some other item, then neglect to replace it. By taking an inventory I realized I did not have any Immodium or Gravol to treat symptoms. I also decided I wanted two more containers of disinfectant wipes for our home (I already had one and two more would mean I had one for each floor) and I was able to obtain those before panic buying and hoarding set it. It would not have been the end of the world had I not got two more - as I have lots of cleaners that can be sprayed on a dishcloth or paper towel and used.

I Don't Have Room for Emergency Supplies!

I'm pretty sure you do. Be creative - store items in closets, under beds, in your garage, your attic, your basement. I know everyone doesn't have a garage, attic or basement. We have a basement but no garage or attic.

But this is where you can be creative. It's winter. Many of us have stored our summer and spring clothes in a second closet. Take them out, put them in suitcases or a storage tub and use that empty closet for Emergency supplies.

Ladies - pack up your extra purses and shoes in tubs. Use the shelf space you just created to store your Emergency supplies.

Empty a kitchen cupboard of items you don't use very often. Store them in labelled tubs and use the empty cupboard.

If you are lucky enough to have a garage/basement/attic, set up some cheap shelves and keep your Emergency supplies there.

There are many other ways to find space for Emergency storage and I am sure you can think of some I haven't mentioned.

My Personal Two Week List of Food Items

Many of my Facebook friends have written to ask what I have on hand, so here is my own list. There are 2 of us to feed for 14 days. I plan by meals then multiplying by 14. I have multiple food allergies so my list has to meet my needs. Yours could probably be much less specific
  • 7 cans of Pork 'n Beans
  • 7 cans of Salmon 
  • 7 cans of Tuna
  • 7 cans of various soups + 7 powdered soups. Many of these are for cooking. I dehydrate fruits and vegetables so can easily make healthy filling soups by adding lots of my dried vegetables if we are stuck. I can also mix a cream soup with pasta and tuna for a nice casserole
  • 4 bags of pasta - I don't like rice so don't buy it
  • Canned beans for chili or pasta/rice dish
  • 14 snack packs of fruit 
  • 14 fruit juice boxes (for hubby)
  • 14 cans of vegetables
  • 4 jars of pasta sauce
  • 2 boxes of cereal (one for each of us)
  • powdered milk
  • enough water in large containers to provide 6 litres of water daily. We can't rely on our well water so I have more water on hand than most people might need. 
  • bag of oatmeal
  • 1 bottle of oil, 1 bag of sugar
  • 1 jar of peanut butter (for hubby)
  • 1 bottle of honey (for hubby) 
  • 2 boxes of granola bars
  • dog food for our 2 pets
Your permanent 2 week Emergency Supply needs to have dates of purchase written on the canned goods so that every 3 to 5 years you can eat what is near expiry, and replace those eaten.

These are items I added to my 14-day Emergency Supplies once I knew we were in a Pandemic situation that might require self-isolation or quarantine:
  • 2 pre-made frozen chili
  • 2 pre-made frozen stew
  • 2 pre-made meatloaf 
  • Chicken + ground beef in freezer to enable me to make 
  • apples, carrots, potatoes and parsnips kept in our mudroom with heat turned off 
  • 2 blocks of cheese
  • 14 small yogurt (for me)
  • 1 loaf of bread 
  • 3 packages of Tortillas + 3 packages of Naan Breads  because they last longer than bagged bread
  • Tea and coffee
Remember - this will pass. We will recover but we will have to change our mind-sets from panic to calm thinking mode.

Keep the prepper motto in mind: Plan for the worst but hope for the best.


Willeneg624 said...

During my earlier years in Girl Scouts, I learned to "Be Prepared". In later years, living in hurricane-prone Florida, I learned again to be prepared but in a more detailed manner. When I moved to Michigan, I brought my preparedness with me. There are no hurricanes here but there can be weather issues and power outages. Now there is a health issue with this new virus but I remain as prepared as usual. I thank you for your excellent article on preparedness. It will be helpful to many.

Chelsea Owens said...

Very excellent advice, and just what I've been thinking in all this panic.