When the novel coronavirus COVID-19 was officially proclaimed a pandemic in March 2020, people were urged to stay home and limit their exposure to those outside their households. Understandably, some measure of panic ensued after that proclamation.
Fears of lockdowns and an inability to shop for necessities created worldwide shortages of cleaning supplies, meat, canned goods, grains, and paper products like toilet tissue. Shoppers were grabbing what they could when they could, and empty store shelves were left in the wake of the pandemonium.
Although it’s wise to keep an ample stockpile of foods and other supplies in advance of a weather emergency, it’s important to draw the line between planning proactively and hoarding goods. But what is the right amount to have on hand?
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, each person should have a cache of supplies that can last up to two weeks. Included in the recommendations are 11⁄2 gallons of water each day per person. One half-gallon is for drinking purposes and the remaining gallon is for hygiene should water supplies be interrupted by the emergency. That equates to 84 gallons of water for a family of four, which may not be feasible for many families. One workaround is to fill a bathtub in one bathroom with water to use for hygiene and reserve bottled water for drinking.
In regard to food, City Prepping, a popular social media channel for preppers, has created a list of what might be included in a two-week emergency supply. Most of the supplies are nonperishable items. Some options include:
• canned soup (20 cans)
• powdered milk
• cereal (two boxes)
• canned vegetables (20 cans)
• peanut butter (two jars)
• pasta (20 bags/boxes)
• coffee or tea
• canned fruit (20 cans)
• oatmeal (five pounds)
• rice (20 pound bag)
• olive oil
Individuals who have a chest freezer also may think about purchasing meats/poultry and frozen foods when they are on sale and creating a two-week menu. Invest in foods that are nutritionally dense and easy to prepare.
In addition, set aside an area to store other supplies. Sanitation and hygiene items, matches in a waterproof container, extra clothing and blankets, cash, and special needs items like prescription medications, contact lens solution and batteries also are good to have on hand. Some items like disinfecting wipes may still be in short supply, so buy them as they become available.
Preparing for an emergency requires having at least a two-week supply of necessary items on hand. Using resources wisely and avoiding hoarding behaviors can help prevent shortages.