"163 of the Fortune 1000 have tier 1 supplies -those they do direct business with- and 938 tier 2 supplies, which feed the first tier. "That's where it becoming troubling," Nelson said. "It's going to be that item where only one plant is qualified to make that and it's going to interrupt a whole production line."
This is all to say that you need to think deeper than just the obvious when it comes to a global scale virus. Even if it never reaches the United States, the effects of it surely will. Whether it's a shortage in food, medication, supplements etc it's best to be prepared. This applies double to those who have any kind of chronic illness or health condition. You want to prepare as much as you can now, before the effects and shortages are seen more profoundly. Below I'll summarize all the differently things you'll want (and why), and then I'll have a checklist at the end that you can print. I am by no means an alarmist, but especially when you have a chronic illness you have to be a few steps ahead. The list below is for a general preparedness plan, with many items tailored to the Coronavirus in particular. But you can use this as a list for any kind of emergent situation you might need to prepare for.
If or when the height of Coronavirus hits the United States supermarkets will get cleaned out in a pinch. That's inevitable. If you take a look at Italy right now there are cities under quarantine and lock-down to prevent the spread of the virus. I'm not saying that would happen in the United States, but in the scenario that it does happen you will want to have things ready prior. Another thing to note with food is that it takes truck drivers to deliver everything, so shortages could be hastened if there is a driver shortage as well.
When it comes to food prep you want calorie and nutrient dense food. Now, if you are someone with a chronic illness that struggles with food allergies, intolerances, or has other specific health concerns around food then I'm going to firmly recommend you stock up on Kate Farm's shakes. Kate Farms makes sole nutrition shakes that you can 100% survive on. Many tube-fed patients use them and even I have lived solely on them for periods of time. These shakes are hypoallergenic, vegan, clean, and packed full of dense nutrition. You can read my detailed post on it here, but for the purpose of this post I recommend stocking up on either the Standard 1.0 or the Standard 1.5 formula. Shakes are easy to store at room temperature and keep for a long time.
However, when it comes to solid food choices you want to pick things that are dense in calories and can pack a punch with nutrition, while also being easy to store and make. Some people are proponents of keeping Ramen cups on hand and calling it a day. That could work, and for some people it is the best option. However if you can, I would recommend following the list below.
- Rice - easy to store for long periods of time, easy to make. You can buy rice in bulk, and you'll ideally want about 20 pounds of rice on hand per person in your household (for about 2 weeks of food). You can buy 20lb bags here, or at your local grocery/Costco/Sam's Club.
- Beans - (black beans, pinto beans, white beans, garbanzo, lentils). Beans are high in folate, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, and last for a long time. If you vacuum seal them they can last for years. Lentils will cook the quickest and will need the least amount of water. About 20lbs for a household of 4 will do.
- Oats - Oats are another food that is easy to store for long periods of time and very easy to make. All you need is water to reconstitute it. You can get 90 servings for about $11 so it's a good bang for your buck.
- Spices & Sugar - Having spices on hand to season the rice, beans, and oats is important. You can stick to salt, pepper and sugar as the basics or you can add in things like paprika, cumin, Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, etc. This is completely up to your taste palette. I also recommend Honey, as it keeps without perishing and has antibacterial properties.
- Oils - You will need to cook with some oil, and the most nutritious options are olive oil and coconut oil. If I had to pick only one it would be coconut oil because it has several uses outside of cooking and is also a natural anti fungal.
- Canned Meat - Canned chicken, tuna (tested negative for mercury), sardines or salmon are all great choices because they keep on the shelf and are very nutrient dense. Sardines are high in Omega 3, B-vitamins, selenium, vitamin D and Calcium. Salmon is high in all of those and packs about 84g of protein per can.
- Potatoes - Most people don't think of potatoes, because they are a fresh produce item. However, if you store them in a cool dark place it can lasts for several months. Another option is potato flakes which can last ages. You can get 65 servings for $12.55
- Dried Fruit - Dried fruit isn't going to replace the real thing, but it stores great and will work in a pinch. You can get dried strawberries, blueberries, apples, mangos, figs, raspberries, you name it. Choose whichever you like the best.
- Nuts/Nut Butter - Nuts are a great way to get healthy fats, calories, and lots of nutrients. You can choose which nuts you prefer because almost every one is available in a spreadable butter format. They last on the shelf a decent amount of time and can be useful to have on hand. I would keep about 2-3 lbs of nuts on hand and 2-3 jars of nut butter. You can always eat them later if they are unused, but they won't go bad.
- Water - You will need water not only to drink, but also to cook. You can buy it in gallon sized jugs or in large 16oz bottle cases. You need about one gallon of water per person per day for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. Plan according to how many days of preparation you want on hand. Should you ever run out of bottled water you can purify your own water easily if you have a LifeStraw personal water filter. These are incredibly inexpensive and can filter up to 1,000 liters of water each. Get one (or a few) to have on hand.
- Butane Stove - You will need to cook your food on something, and a Butane stove is incredibly inexpensive and easy to use. Keep extra butane on hand to power it, and you will be all set.
- Can Opener - Listing this because it's sometimes forgotten. You'll need to have a can opener on hand for the canned products listed above.
- Pet Food - Don't forget your pets! If you can get extra of their foods, treats, meds, and anything else that are essentials for them. This is a useful checklist specifically for pet preparedness from FEMA.
I'm sure most of you remember the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. After that the United States had a serious saline shortage because almost all of our saline was produced there. The FDA reported that over 150 drugs could be disrupted by the Coronavirus, if not more. If you are reading this and you are otherwise healthy then that's great. But if you are someone who depends on prescription medications then it likely makes you feel very uneasy. Should the virus never become a problem in the United States, the effects of this could still be problematic. If you can ask for a 3 or 6 month prescription from your Doctor, do so. If you have controlled substances (which can typically only be filled month to month) you might want to ask your Doctor for a one time exception for a single month back up. Some Doctors will oblige depending on the situation. Basically, if you can get ahead of it then do so now. There are also going to be various supplements that will fly of the shelves quicker than others because they are particularly useful during a viral outbreak. If you depend on these for other health reasons, stock up now before they get bought up. Or perhaps just want to have some things on hand for general protection/ability to help ease a respiratory virus. Either way, I have compiled a useful list. As always, consult your Doctor about any supplements that you aren't used to taking.
- Electrolytes/ORS - I put this at the very top, because staying hydrated is crucial. And if you are sick it is doubly crucial. When you have a fever you dehydrate quickly, and water alone won't be enough to rebalance the electrolytes that you've lost. Oral Rehydration Solutions are going to give you the most bang for your buck. They are used in third world countries for rapid rehydration because they can work as well as an IV. I have a full blog post on ORS here, but my top recommendations are Hydrant and Ceralyte, because they are both clean and very potent. Hydrant comes in packets that go into water and Ceralyte comes in a ready to drink carton. I keep both on hand at home, but either will do.
- Elderberry - Elderberry is a great anti-viral. A lot of people take it during flu season, but also year around for immune support. I like these because they have added Zinc and Vitamin C (so you don't need to take it separately), but some people prefer a potent syrup like this.
- Vitamin C - Another immune boosting necessity. It's great if you're sick to boost your immune system or to keep your system strong and protected. Buffered Vitamin C is going to be the most gentle on the stomach, but any form you like best is great.
- Zinc - Zinc often goes hand in hand with Vitamin C because of its immune boosting mechanism. Low zinc levels leave you more susceptible to picking up infections, and it's commonly low with various chronic illnesses that deplete zinc. Having zinc on hand to stay protected is always wise, and if you depend on it daily then make sure you have enough should it fly off the shelves. Zinc can easily upset your stomach, especially if you're sensitive. My stomach is really sensitive, and I found that taking sublingual Zinc after a meal is the best way to ward off nausea.
- Vitamin D3/K2 - I know you know what I'm about to say.. yes Vitamin D is critical for immune health as well. It's best to take Vitamin D balanced with K2. Vitamin D helps calcium properly absorb, and K2 directs the calcium to bones instead of your arteries (where it can cause calcification). Taking D3 daily is good practice, especially if you live somewhere without sun this time of year.
- Multivitamin - This might seen obvious, but not everyone takes Multivitamins. So, during fears of a pandemic there will be a surge in multivitamin purchases. If you have a brand you love then stock up so you don't face a shortage. If you don't have a favorite yet, I like this one.
- Oscillococcinum - This might be an unknown supplement to you, and honestly I only learned about it last year. It's a homeopathic remedy that can halt or significantly lessen a cold/flu. I know it sounds a bit 'out there' but take a look at the thousands of Amazon reviews stating that they have no idea how it works, but it does. I firmly stand by this. Last October I caught some kind of flu and I was miserable. Someone recommended I try Oscillococcinum, and I was desperate so I got it. All I can say is I have no idea how or why, but it works. I have no idea if its effective against something like Coronavirus, but I do know that if you catch the flu or strep your immune system will be more susceptible to picking up another respiratory virus. So having Oscilloccinum on hand is going to be very useful should you find yourself in that situation. It sells out quickly at Walgreens on Amazon, so if you find it available I would definitely grab it.
- Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen - Both Ibuprofen and Tylenol are anti-inflammatories and fever reducers, and a staple item that could face a shortage. You'll want to make sure you have enough on hand. This also applies to things which use Acetaminophen like Excedrine (if you depend on that).
- Mucinex/Expectorant - If you happen to face an upper respiratory illness of any kind you will want to have an expectorant on hand. This will help with chest congestion and loosening mucus in your lungs. This will likely be out of stock as the weeks go by and fears of coronavirus kick up. If you don't have any yet I recommend buying some now. You can buy the classic Mucinex with guaifensen, or you may want to opt for a liquid herbal variety. Both will work great. I also want to recommend Hylands Cough & Mucus which is a homeopathic liquid that is fantastic. I can't possibly sing its praises any higher, it works like a charm for excess mucus and chest congestion.
- Thermometer - If you don't have a good thermometer on hand yet, grab one now. I will say I have seen tons of thermometers go out of stock on Amazon in the last week, especially the forehead thermometers.
- Pulse Oximeter - A pulse oximeter is a little device that goes on your finger and tells you your oxygen saturation. This is useful if you have an upper respiratory infection and you're worried about it. It's nice to be able to check and see if things are still ok or you need more assistance at a hospital. They're cheap and theres no reason not to have one somewhere in your home.
- Thymuline - Thymuline is a potent homeopathic remedy that supports the function of the Thymus and naturally boosts the immune system. You only need to take this once a week. Thymuline is especially beneficial when suffering from excess mucus or bronchial problems during cold, flu and allergy season. Benefits include: boosting the immune system, helps fight viral and bacterial agents, prohibits and alleviates respiratory diseases, promotes overall healing and recuperation after prolonged illness. My whole family has been taking this weekly for the last year and it's great. It's not a must have, but I do recommend it.
- Vapor Rub - A vapor rub will be your best friend if you find yourself with an upper respiratory illness. You can always get the classic Vick's Vapor Rub, but I really love Marty's Natural Vapor Rub which uses essential oils. If you need something in a pinch you can also put a few drops of Eucalyptus oil into some coconut oil for a similar effect.
- Clorox - Here is a list of all Clorox products that are guaranteed to kill Coronavirus. I recommend and swear by these Hospital Grade hydrogen peroxide wipes. I use them all over the house, and they don't smell terrible, yet work great. Some people with chronic illnesses are sensitive to the harsh scent of bleach or chlorine, so the hydrogen peroxide wipes are excellent.
- Disinfectant Spray - Here is a list of all Lysol products that are guaranteed to kill Coronavirus. However, Lysol can be very irritating for those with chemical sensitivities and other health conditions. There is an alternative spray from Seventh Generation, and my family has been using it for years. It is just as effective as Lysol but isn't full of triggering chemicals. It is scented only with essential oils and is very mild.
- Antibacterial Soap - It's always helpful to have antibacterial soap on hand during flu/virus season, and I think it's good to have for all households. You can find various hospital grade soaps such as Medi-Stat or Hibiclens. Any variety will work.
- Extra: PhoneSoap - This is not a must have, and it uses electricity so in an emergent situation it would not work. However, in a day to day scenario where there is still plenty of electricity and water yet the coronavirus is prevalent, this will be immensely useful. Your phone is one of the most common ways you pick up germs. Phones are disgusting, and they harbor about 25,000 bacteria per square inch. A phone soap is a little box that uses UV light to kill all the germs, bacteria, and viruses on your phone. All it needs is about 5 minutes in the box and it's done. I put my phone in mine every single day, and I would recommend using it more often if there is an outbreak.
- Nitrile Gloves - Having gloves on hand is useful if someone in your household is ill. Being able to have a barrier with things you touch will prove to be helpful should you find yourself in that situation. Most people don't keep gloves on hand, but they're inexpensive and 2 boxes would last you a long time.
- Masks - I'm sure you've seen the disposable paper masks all over the news. Those are useful if someone is sick because it helps prevent spreading the virus. It would be good to keep some on hand just in case. However, if you want to prevent air-borne particles like bacteria and viruses reaching you then you will need more than just a disposable mask. This is where masks like Cambridge Mask come into the equation because they have an N99 military grade filter on them. They can filter out over 99% of all viruses and bacteria. Because of the coronavirus there is a mass shortage of N95/N99 masks all across the board. Cambridge Mask is backordered until late April (at the time of writing this). There are still a few options I could find, like this one, that would work as well. I've also seen people mention that places like Lowe's and Home Depot have N95 masks in store that could work in a pinch.
- Hand Sanitizer - I like to use a fragrance free and alcohol free version such as this one, but any kind will do. I also use Smart Silver (from DesBio) around the house to disinfect my hands and I keep a small one in my purse.
- Battery Banks - Having something like a Mophie (for your phone), or other battery banks on hand will be very helpful should you be in a situation where the power is out. If you look around your house think about how many devices you have that depend on a charging cable. A few battery banks will give you peace a mind in any situation (not just with coronavirus) where there is a lack of access to electricity.
- Extra Batteries - Having a selection of batteries on hand for various things around your house is always a good idea. You never know when they will get disrupted in supply chains and you'll need them to power important devices. If you need a computer for work it would also be smart to buy an external hard drive to back up your computer as well as a power bank to charge it should you need it.
- High Lumen Flashlight - Most people already keep flashlights around their house, but I added this as a reminder in case you don't have any lying around.
- First Aid Kit - Not only do you need to have a first aid kit for yourself, but also for your pets. If you already have one make sure everything is good to go and nothing is expired.
- Toilet Paper/Hygienic Products - You don't want to find yourself without these, and there is no risk to stock up since you'll end up using it down the road should you not need it now.
- Radio - I know this is old school, but if you don't have a radio in your home they are super cheap and wise to have. If for any reason the power goes out and your phone dies then you'll have no way to get info. I don't know how applicable this will be for the Coronavirus, but this list is useful for any kind of emergent situation so I had to include it.
Staying ahead of the curve will serve you well no matter the situation. There is no need to panic or be overwhelmed either. This is mostly about asking yourself if you are set up at home to have some things for a couple of weeks if your household needs to stay at home for whatever reason. If you can't get everything at once try to collect it little by little. The key is to take whatever steps you realistically can without causing yourself more anxiety in the process.
If you have other tips or products to add, please leave it in the comments below for other readers.
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