Like it or not, the novel coronavirus aka COVID-19 is here. They’re all saying it – we’re very likely to wind up with some sort of quarantine. I do not look forward to being stuck inside my house for 14 days with all the kiddos at home. On top of that, I do NOT want to eat beans and rice 3 times daily for 14 days. Booooooring. So what’s a girl gotta do? Figure out how to prepare for COVID-19!
I’m Floridian. If it’s a year that I have my act together, each spring I assemble a hurricane kit. The idea behind the hurricane kit is to have your supplies together BEFORE there’s a storm with a bullseye on your house. It saves you from all the last minute scrambling to buy food and water. With a hurricane kit, you’re supposed to prepare for no electricity and have food and water on hand for at least 7 days.
The good news is that for a COVID-19 quarantine, you can at least expect to have power and drinkable water. For me, at any rate, it’s almost time to put together my hurricane kit, so this list will have a few additions for those of you that also prepare for the worst.
This list is not just the standard food and medicine for 14 days, blah blah blah. This list is how to survive being stuck in your house with kids for 14 days with as much style and grace as possible. It’s about eating variety and not losing your sanity. I speak from experience. When Hurricane Irma struck I was home with 3 kids for 10 days straight. Some of those days I also had to work remotely.
COVID-19 Kit Hack #1: Store Your Kit in a Separate Space
How to prepare for COVID-19 quarantine? This seems simple, but it’s critical. If you go to the store and stock up today and put everything away in their normal places, you risk using it up without realizing it. Create your kit and store it in a closet, a garage, or the room you’re in the last often. Set it aside and largely forget about it. The idea here is that you have all the stores in place for when you need them unexpectedly. Zombie apocalypse. COVID-19 outbreak. Meteor strike. Hurricane.
I mean it. If you put all your supplies into your general use area, you risk actually being out of a critical item when emergency strikes.
For us? We chose my husband’s closet. His closet also doubles as the space beneath the stairs (Harry Potter style) and is our emergency hideout come hurricane or tornado. Sounds like the right place to stash extra food and supplies.
Prepare for COVID-19 Kit Hack #2: Start Early
Start right now. You don’t have to buy bulk or go crazy. Just pick up a few extra items each time you’re at the store. In Florida, hurricane season starts June 1st. I don’t go out on June 1 and purchase hundreds of dollars worth of supplies. No. I start about now and just slowly build my supply. An extra can of food here. A package of toilet paper there.
Let’s face it – in times of crisis who really has all those extra funds to throw about on supplies you may or may not need? But, if you slowly just start adding to your supply at home, you can spread out the costs and make it more affordable.
The biggest bonus? When crisis strikes, you are not at the store fighting hordes of panicked people for limited supplies. No, you, YOU are sitting in the comfort of your home, relaxed and fully stocked.
Tomorrow, go pick up a few items. Don’t hoard. Don’t go into a frenzy. Just divide up your list of things to buy among several weeks and relax. You are now prepared for COVID-19 quarantine.
COVID-19 Kit Hack #3: Stock the Things They Tell You to Stock
Don’t worry. I’m going to get into the good stuff next, but I can’t go any further without explicitly stating that you need to have your basics in the kit:
- Food for 14 days (I’ll get into how to do this more creatively later).
- Diapers, formula and other supplies for babies/infants.
- Extra supply of prescription medications – put the extra supply in the kit so you don’t inadvertently use it up. Have at least 2 weeks extra, but ideally up to a month if possible.
- Over the counter cold medications, fever reducer (adult and child/infant), bandaids, anti-histamines, diarrhea treatments and other emergency/first aid medications.
- Food and necessary medications for any pets for an extra 14 days.
The CDC has an informative list on how to prepare the household for illness. It’s well worth a read-through and maybe even printing out for future reference.
You can also read through my standard first aid kit for travel (and home) here.
Time to Get Real, COVID-19 Kit Hack #4: For the Love of All That is Holy and Good, Don’t Forget the Coffee
None of the prep sites say anything about coffee, or whatever caffeine source you consume. It’s mission critical to stock up on coffee/tea/etc. If I go 24 hours without some sort of caffeine, I wind up with debilitating migraines. The LAST thing anyone needs in the house, when stuck here for 14 days straight, is for Mama to go through a caffeine withdrawal.
How to Prepare for COVID-19 Kit Hack #5: The Small Things that Make Your Life Comfortable
Here’s where you add in extras of those small things you can live without, but they’re the things that make you a decent human being every day. Deodorant. Toothpaste. Laundry detergent. Feminine hygiene products. Condoms. Razor blades. Dental floss. Chocolates. Gummy bears. Snack bars. Potato chips. Whatever – you do you.
But seriously, what are the smaller comforts that make you NOT want to kill the people around you from day to day? Put some of that in your kit. When you’re stuck in home AGAIN for the 3rd or 10th or 14th day straight, these small comforts will help keep you sane. Which comforts will you chose to help prepare for COVID-19 quarantine?
Just throw an extra supply into your kit and know all will be well. If the “shit hits the fan” you’re likely to get some sort of assistance for food and water, but will they drop off those little luxuries of life?
OMG Don’t Forget the Booze: COVID-19 Kit Hack #6
I have three children. I love them dearly. We are almost never confined in a single building for a few days straight, let alone weeks. Unless it’s vacation and there’s wonderful amounts of wine. So, don’t forget the wine in your quarantine/disaster kit. Trader Joe’s sells very affordable and drinkable boxes of wine. Or maybe your poison is rum. Or tequila. Whatever it is, set aside a stash in case you’re healthy yet suddenly trapped within the walls of your house.
Need help finding the right boxed wine for you? This Buzzfeed article has you covered.
Prepare for COVID-19 Kit Hack #7: Let’s Talk Food
I cannot stand eating the same thing day-in and day-out. The idea of eating canned food or rice and beans for 2 weeks straight is enough to drive me crazy. If I’m stuck in my house, I still want to have variety in my diet and I don’t want to lose out on nutrition from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Things to consider for your own kit:
- Dried legumes of all varieties: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans. Legumes are an excellent source of protein and easy to store.
- Canned meats and fish. If you’re anything like me, fridge and freezer space is at a premium. While I have some room in my freezer to stock up on meat and frozen veggies, it really isn’t enough for 2 weeks of food for my family of 5.
- Grains like rice, quinoa, oats, bulgar wheat and barley will help stretch any of your meals into more servings. They’re also great for adding into soups and stews.
- Root vegetables and squashes such as rutabaga, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, potatoes. The trick is, you have to rotate your supply. I have one spaghetti squash in my kitchen and 2 in the kit. When I cook the one in my kitchen, I will buy a new one on my next trip to the store. I put the new one in the kit and rotate the oldest one from the kit into my kitchen.
- Extra eggs. Keep a second container of eggs at all times. They don’t take up a huge amount of space in your refrigerator and are a great source of protein. You can also use them to bake more interesting breads/cakes/etc. when you’re in quarantine and looking for something to keep you busy.
- Olive oil or your cooking oil of choice. Just set aside an extra bottle so that you have cooking fats.
- Snacks: Popcorn kernels, snack bars, potato chips, nuts and seeds, beef jerky. It’s good to think beyond the 3 main meals of the day.
- Clean out your freezer and stock up on frozen vegetables and an extra loaf of bread. Rotate the frozen loaf of bread at least every other week to prevent frostbite.
- Stock up on different sauces to vary your flavors. Check out the ethnic aisle of your grocery store and grab a few unfamiliar jars. When the food boredom sets in, they’ll spice your life right up.
- Fresh fruits: With a few days notice, I’d also stock up on bananas and apples. They can be easily dehydrated for frozen for smoothies if they start to become overripe. Citrus fruits can last at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
Luckily for me, it’s currently strawberry season in Florida. I’ve been busy dehydrating all the wonderfully ripe and inexpensive strawberries for a few weeks now. The difference is, I’ve now hidden away some of those dried strawberries in my kit. I’m fond of this inexpensive dehydrator available from Amazon.
The Washington Post has a great article about how top chefs and expert cooks suggest you stock your pantry to prepare for COVID-19 quarantines. Read up on their recommendations here.
COVID-19 Kit Hack #8: Entertainment!
My teenage sons will quite happily while away 14 days with video games. They can entertain themselves for countless hours as long as there’s power and an internet connection. My 4 year old is an entirely different matter. Here are a few ideas, your mileage may vary depending on the ages of your kids and your family’s interests.
- Work from home/Virtual schooling: It’s good to check in with your employer and your kid’s school to find out what types of plans they have in place. Troubleshoot remote technology now, while it isn’t critical. Kids may resist virtual school, but it’ll help prevent them from falling behind and fill up some of those bored hours.
- Books, books, books! The good news is that with e-readers, you don’t have to plan ahead too much. You can easily download new books as needed. If you prefer real books, a quick trip to the book store or library can refresh your home selection.
- Board games, card games, puzzles, sudoku books, riddles, mystery and escape room games.
As a family we really enjoy Disney’s Villainous strategy game. You role play a Disney villain. Each character has its own set of rules and game play. The rules are simple to learn, but complex to master. Pick up your own copy here: Disney Villainous
- Get your wiggles out! Being cooped up inside a house can really wear on active children. YouTube is full of child friendly yoga and movement videos. See what types of special equipment you may want like yoga mats, hand weights, resistance bands.
- Arts and crafts time. Coloring books, paints, papier mache, markers, colored pencils and crayons. When boredom sets in, having arts and crafts supplies will help you vary your routine.
- Home improvement projects. This is a great opportunity to finally get around to whatever house repairs and home improvement projects you’ve been ignoring. Our “to do” list is fairly long: bedrooms that need painting, a back porch to power wash, closets to purge.
- Cook together: Bake a loaf of bread from scratch. Take the time to knead it, let it rise, then bake. Roll out some fresh pasta. Make up a batch of soup or stew and let the kiddos chop up the vegetables. This is your chance to test out those complicated, time intensive recipes you’ve always wanted to try.
Relax, You’ve Got This
Now that your COVID-19 quarantine kit is in place, you can sit back and hope you never wind up needing it. But you can also relax, because you won’t be last minute fighting cranky shoppers or standing in long lines. Tell me all about it – what did you do to prepare for COVID-19 in your household for a possible quarantine?