Every household should have a well-stocked emergency kit on hand for natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes. This kit will typically contain supplies that your family can survive on in an emergency, even if the power is out or you don’t have access to running water.
As we continue to navigate the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, you might be wondering if you should have an emergency kit for this type of disruption as well. The answer is yes—you do need an emergency kit for COVID-19 and other pandemics.
In the case of a pandemic, creating an emergency kit is about stocking up enough supplies (not hoarding everything at once!) so that you won’t have to leave the house if you or someone else in your household gets sick.
How To Stock Up on Supplies for a Pandemic
Aim to have at least two weeks of non-perishable food on hand in case you or someone in your household becomes ill. You should also try to have at least two weeks of essential supplies such as household cleaners.
Whatever you do, don’t stockpile all your goods at one time. In addition to ensuring that everyone has access to the essential food and supplies we all need, it’s easier on the supply chain if you gradually build up your household stores rather than panic-buying every bottle of disinfectant you can get your hands on. Instead, continue purchasing your regular, perishable groceries as usual, and add one or two extra non-perishable items to your cart whenever you head out for essential items.
Remember, stocking up on supplies does not mean that you need to clear out entire shelves of products in preparation for lockdown, or that we’ll all be forced to remain in our homes unable to acquire groceries and other necessities. It simply means that you have enough that you’ll be prepared if you or someone else in your home gets sick and you need to isolate yourself from the public.
What To Include in your Pandemic Supply Kit
Your supply kit for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and other pandemics should contain non-perishable food, as well as household supplies and essential health and medical supplies in case someone gets sick.
- Dried pasta and sauce
- Canned vegetables and fruit
- Rice and/or other grains such as quinoa and buckwheat
- Dried beans
- Granola bars
- Peanut butter
- Dry cereal
- Foods you like when you get sick, such as canned soup
- Baby food
- Pet food
- Energy bars
- Fluids with electrolytes
- Coffee and tea
- Manual can opener
- Battery-powered or wind-up radio
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Extra keys for your car/house
- Personal care products—shampoo, soap, cleansers, etc.
- Feminine hygiene products
- Dish soap
- Regular laundry soap
- Bleach and dilution container
Health and medical supplies
- Essential prescriptions—fill them for an extra month if you are able
- Face masks (see below)
- Eye protection
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable paper towels
- Waste container with plastic liner
- Acetaminophen to reduce fever
- Running water
- Hand soap, antibacterial
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
- Alcohol wipes
As of April 3, 2020, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, and especially in areas of significant community-based transmission of COVID-19. You can make your own washable mask using this tutorial.
Leave surgical or N95 masks for healthcare workers, or limit yourself to one package of masks. Stockpiling masks unnecessarily only means that frontline workers won’t have access to the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe.
- Copies of your health records and prescriptions
- Emergency information, such blood type, allergies,
- Emergency contact list
Like all natural disasters, you should have an emergency preparedness kit on hand to see your family through the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, as well as for a possible second wave of infections and similar future viral outbreaks. Your pandemic emergency kit should be built up slowly and kept in place to help you in the event that you or a member of your household gets ill and need to quarantine inside your home for two weeks.
It is an uncertain and frightening time, but do your best to avoid panic buying. Think of your family, friends, and community before you take more than you need to. Remember that you will continue to have access to groceries thanks to the courageous efforts of grocery store cashiers and clerks—you do not need to be amassing month's worth of supplies.
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Preparedness Resources
Prepare yourself, your home, and your loved ones for COVID-19 with our emergency preparedness resources:
- What Makes Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Different from Other Natural Disasters?
- How to Help Communities & Individuals Impacted by Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- How to Create a Pandemic Preparedness Plan
- Supplies to Have on hand During the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
- How to Safely Pack, Ship, and Receive Packages During a Pandemic