With the new coronavirus outbreak on the mind, it’s a good time to make sure you’re well-stocked with emergency supplies.
No one really knows how all this will play out. But in the worst case scenario, if you were stuck in your house for a 14-day quarantine, or if you felt you needed to stay away from others for a few days, would you have enough supplies? Consider whether you’d have the supplies you need if you tested positive for coronavirus and had to stay home until you were clear, or if someone in your household tested positive and you needed to care for that person.
Military commissary and exchange officials advise those in the military community to be ready for any emergency all year long, wherever you live. As of this writing, some military stores have been seeing shortages of items like masks and hand sanitizers, but they were working to replenish the shelves. There’s a shortage nationwide.
Do some research about what is actually effective in preventing sickness. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend face masks for those who are well; they should be used by people who show symptoms of coronavirus to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. And CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t available at the moment, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that’s at least 60-percent alcohol. That’s a good practice year round.
Early data suggests that older people, and those with underlying chronic medical conditions might be at risk for more serious complications from the virus.
So consider the list of emergency supplies, and think about your family’s needs. For example, if you have a family member with special needs, make sure you have plenty of the supplies they need.
Find out now how your local installation officials and local government officials will keep people informed about precautions and restrictions, closings and other actions. Check with your children’s school, child care center, family child care home, about how they will handle a possible outbreak, and create a contingency plan in the event of closings.
Here are some tips for emergency supplies that could apply particularly to a 14-day quarantine, from the American Red Cross and the Defense Commissary Agency:
*A minimum 30-day supply of your prescription medications.
*Other non-prescription health supplies that your family uses, such as pain relievers; cough and cold medicines; , fluids with electrolytes, like Gatorade.
*Hand soap, and soap for bathing.
*Household supplies like bleach, household cleaners and wipes, laundry detergents. Check out this list of products from the Center of Biocide Chemistries of more than 100 ready-to-use biocidal products that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as effective at killing viruses like coronavirus: https://www.americanchemistry.com/Novel-Coronavirus-Fighting-Products-List.pdf.
*Paper products like tissues, toilet paper, paper towels.
*Diapers, formula and other items for young children.
* Food staples, such as dried, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables, because fresh fruits and veggies may not last for 14 days. Consider adding some frozen and/or canned meats to your supply.
*Any specialty foods needed.
*Plenty of books, toys and games to keep young children happy.
*Pet food and pet care supplies.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.