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We find ourselves in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Prepping can be an overwhelming approach to life when one disaster after another lobbies for your attention. Attempting to have the perfect approach to all possible events is impossible. From food and water to batteries and vitamins the list of what to stockpile for a pandemic can be overwhelming.
The threat of a pandemic has been raised to a critical level on every prepper’s threat matrix. In the following sections, I will help you look at your current level of preparation. By the end of our time together you should have identified any gaps and made a plan to fill them.
Image: legashee via flickr
If you are new to these types of emergencies; stop and take a breath.
First – You aren’t alone.
Secondly – there are many of us out here that can help you get a good perspective on current events. We can help you to best prepare yourself.
Read on and I will get you well on your way to handling this coronavirus outbreak (and many others too).
Essential Foods to Stockpile for a Pandemic
- The food must be non-perishable (canned and/or dried).
- The majority of it must be similar to your daily diet.
- Finally, add a little variety to avoid food fatigue.
Rice is the number one meal stretcher. Chili and rice, rice and beans, porcupines (rice in meatballs). It goes with nearly everything and turns a meager portion into a belly filler.
Rice is the perfect food to stockpile for a pandemic. It’s cheap and can be purchased in bulk (50 lb bags are widely available). Additionally, it stores forever!
My favorite treatment is Congee. A porridge made from boiling rice for many hours.
It is a true chameleon. Add a soft-boiled egg and it’s breakfast. With a little ground chicken or pork and it is dinner. Finally, add coconut milk and sugar and you have dessert!
Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice, 50 Pound
Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish
Protein is one of the hardest things to store. Meat is expensive, has a relatively short shelf life (compared to rice and beans), and is expensive (see what I did there?).
I prefer to can my own. One pound per pint or two pounds per quart. We do beef, chicken, and pork.
If you are unable to do that then the best approach is to buy a little each week. Tuna and chicken are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
If you have a dehydrator, another great option is to store beef jerky. You can store it in mylar bags for several months, or even longer in the freezer. Once it’s opened, be sure to eat it within a week or so.
Otherwise, get meat-heavy canned meals. This includes chili, spam, corned beef, etc. Add a few cans as often as your pocketbook will allow.
Beans are another great food to stockpile for a pandemic. Most of the world lives on rice and beans. Cheap and able to be stored for many years. Get as many as possible.
Don’t forget to get multiple types. You can make brownies out of pinto beans. Black beans and olive oil make a great dip. Lentils cook in a quarter of the time as any other beans and add substance to thin soups.
Canned Veggies and Fruits
Store what you eat and eat what you store! Canned fruits and vegetables are very affordable especially if purchased at the end of the summer when they are making room for the new stock.
Ensure that your stockpile has a lot of what you normally eat as well as a lot of variety. If you have to eat out of your pantry for a long time you will appreciate the familiar as well as the new.
Del Monte Mandarin Orange Fruit Snack Cups in 100% Juice, 12-4oz Cups – PACK OF 2
Cooking oils contribute much-needed calories to our diet. Likewise, they add a richness and mouth feel that is hard to leave behind. Ever cook a chicken breast with nothing but the juice it came in? Not too great.
Oils have a limited shelf life therefore it’s best to have a consistent rotation in your pantry. Store what you need for a year then add some every time you use it.
What is life without pasta? Again, a prime stockpile food. Cheap, stores a long time, and it’s filled with calories.
Figure out what you eat per meal and do the math. Stack up the pounds in your pantry, then get a little more.
Soups and Sauces
Once you have your base calories accounted for start adding variety with canned and jarred soups and sauces.
Soups can be a filling meal with some fresh bread. Cream soups are especially flexible when used in casseroles.
Spaghetti sauce can be used with your pasta, rice, chicken, etc. I’ve even seen it watered down as soup.
Variety and volume are the keys. Tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, meat sauce. Add jar after jar of everything you like. Even add a few jars of things you think you would like.
Treats (Spices & Candy)
Plain rice is boring. Now toss it with a little olive oil and spices and you can finish a bowl without thinking about it. The same goes for pasta.
One of the priority boxes in my bug out pantry is the spice box! I can live on rice and beans for a while, but I’m much happier if I can spice it up day one, make it Italian the next.
Ok now for the serious pandemic stockpile item. Bulk candy. Life without pasta sucks. Life without chocolate is not worth living.
Hit the after-holiday sales and get a few pounds. The mood elevation a Twix bar can bring to a child is amazing. Don’t neglect this simple prep.
Medical, Hygiene and First Aid Supplies to Fight Coronavirus
Being prepared is much more than food and water. There isn’t much that we need to say about stockpiling medical supplies for a pandemic. It comes with the territory.
The less you go out into crowds the less you are exposed to infection situations. This includes making a run for medical or hygiene supplies. Even the department of homeland security is recommending avoiding all unnecessary travel.
Respirator, Gloves, Face Masks, PPE
Your first line of defense is your Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). You avoid getting sick by not coming in physical contact with pathogens.
Bacteria and viruses infect you via your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. By covering these you are partially protected. Gloves keep the infectious materials off your hands.
It is essential that you also remember to not touch your face. A full-face shield will help with this. Each time you touch your face you risk bringing virus particles close to or into your eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.
AMMEX Medical Black Nitrile Gloves, Box of 100, 4 mil Size Large, Latex Free, Powder Free, Textured, Disposable, Non-Sterile
When your body is under assault it is imperative that you provide it with ammunition to fight back. Nutrition is one of the biggest bullets you can use.
Electrolyte powders and drink mixes replace the basic nutrients and salts your body uses.
Get dried mixes as they are cheaper and last longer than pre-mixed drinks.
You got sick. You took the medicines mommy gave you. It’s no different when you are older. Take your medicine. A pandemic is no time to tough it out with a serious bug.
Depending on the disease you will need to be specific about the medications that you take. For example, antibiotics don’t work on viral infections.
Don’t neglect the basics either. Tylenol, Ibuprophen, and Benadryl are components in many over the counter drugs. Become familiar with the dos and don’ts of each drug and use it according to the directions.
Don’t neglect prescription medications!
Extending on the PPE topic is the hazmat suit. I’m not talking about the big Biolab bubble suits, just a good outer layer. Tyvek painter suits are cheap, sturdy, and sufficient to cover you during a risky activity.
Remember that these will be single-use! Buy them one size too large so they aren’t too tight and split.
Sanitizer / Bleach
Your next layer of protection is cleaning your living space. All contact surfaces must be cleaned often especially if you are caring for sick loved ones.
Become familiar with the process before a crisis.
Toilet Paper / Personal Hygiene
Gotta keep clean! Nobody likes a case of swamp-butt or other stinky, sticky areas.
Toilet paper, sanitary napkins, soap, shampoo, deodorant all have natural or homemade options. That being said I always have a few rolls stashed just in case. You know, so I don’t have to cut up, use, then wash my old t-shirts.
We take modern sanitation for granted. Personal hygiene done wrong can easily lead to infection or worse. Stack them high and deep while you can!
As a self-sufficient prepper, I highly recommend you learn how to make your own toilet paper when SHTF (no pun intended!) for an extended period of time, and supplies are nonexistent.
Sometimes the plumbing fails and we need to have a backup plan. There are many options for personal waste management. Be sure to add at least one to your stockpile (as well as all the associated supplies).
Having to go in the great outdoors is fine on occasion. But having to rely on it can be maddening or even dangerous.
During any stressful situation or your diet changes, you will lose micronutrients. Vitamins go a long way to supplementing your nutrition when this happens.
It’s cheap and easy to get a few bottles now. Go with chewable vitamins as gummies have a limited shelf life.
Centrum Adult (100 Count) Multivitamin / Multimineral Supplement Chewable Tablet, Vitamin D3
Non-Food Emergency Supplies
Stock these items as they are the first to be used up and the most likely to be taken for granted.
Our lives are electronic. Make sure to have enough batteries for your flashlights, smoke detectors, etc. There is nothing worse than needing a flashlight when it has dead batteries.
Don’t overlook external cell phone batteries. The world is slowly standardizing on these handy items.
Fireproof Battery Organizer Storage Box Waterproof Explosionproof, Hard Safe Box Fits 200 Batteries Case – with Tester BT-168, Carrying Container Bag Energy Batteries AA AAA C D 9V Iithium 3V Holder
Speaking of flashlights. Get several.
Advances in LEDs have made flashlights cheaper, brighter, and longer-lasting. Used to look in dark corners and down into basements; you have no idea the uses until you carry one at all times.
In addition to your handheld flashlights, I recommend you get a few headlamps as well. You can’t beat the convenience of not having to hold your light when working in the dark.
Keep one on your person. One in every room. One on your nightstand and one in your medical kit. Then get a backup for each of those.
Garbage Bags / Drum Liners
We make trash. A lot of it. The downtime of a pandemic will be no different. Additionally, you will want to have extra garbage bags for any used medical, hygiene, or waste items. Double bag all of these.
Garbage bags are handy but also get a few jumbo-sized drum liners to take care of big messes. They are also made of thicker plastic which allows for more secure disposal.
Don’t forget that you will get bored. If you don’t, all kiddos will. They won’t be shy about it either.
A few books and DVDs will go a long way. If you have any warning, download a few from your streaming services in case the internet gets slow.
Downtime is a great relationship-building time. Family game night is a great bonding experience. How many households are letting the bonding happen with electric devices? Take the opportunity to break that paradigm.
It may be necessary to set up a quarantine space. As a result, you will need plastic sheeting. Drape it across a room as a divider. Or more effectively, across a door.
Anything that you can do to create a soft barrier between the sick and the healthy the better.
Plastic sheeting can also be used to cover walls and floors in order to make it easier to clean and disinfect. Very important when you know sick people will be coming through.
No, not to drink.
Alcohol has a myriad of other uses. Purchase 120 proof or greater as a disinfectant. Use it to make medicinal tinctures. Or even use it as an oral numbing agent.
Actually, you might be stuck for a while, so you may want to have the fun alcohol around, too. A small glass can ease stress and boost your mood. Just keep it in moderation, at least until the coronavirus burns out.
Laundry Detergent / Sanitizer
Keep yourself and your clothes clean. Keep your environment clean.
During an infectious disease pandemic, you will most likely have to do things you are not used to. Your ability to replace overly dirty clothes will be limited.
Stock up on an extra container or three of your standard laundry detergents. Add to that a few bottles of laundry sanitizer. When you are exposed to unsanitary conditions it’s best to disinfect as well as clean your clothes.
Stay Informed: Know When To Bug Out
Pandemic preparedness will only go so far when things get really bad. In most cases you will be able to bug in, however, you must be prepared to bug out.
The hardest issue will be deciding when to bug out during the event of a pandemic. Your best bet is to review the possible triggers BEFORE they happen and make plans for each. When a bug out trigger is tripped GO.
Each situation is different and each will require a unique perspective and approach. Most importantly communicate with your loved ones.
For the current pandemic (this article is written during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak) I have the following triggers.
- If a child in my school district, or in any of the districts that we play in sports have the disease, we bug in.
- If a co-worker’s family member tests positive, we bug in.
- In the event of a death in our county, we bug in.
- If there are multiple deaths in our town, we bug out.
Each of these triggers is very personal and situation dependent. Study your current situation and establish your triggers.
Keep your head, organize your plans, and we will all see each other on the other side of this coronavirus outbreak.