Posted on: March 18, 2020 at 2:01 pm
Last updated: October 16, 2020 at 1:49 pm

COVID-19 has been officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Those hoping this virus would go away as quickly as a bad internet trend will be disappointed. That doesn’t mean it’s time to buy a large freezer, build a shelter, and prepare for the apocalypse, although it would be prudent to take some precautions. [1]


No Need to Panic

Before we proceed with prevention tips, it’s imperative to note that stress is detrimental to one’s immune system. [2] While it’s good to be prepared and organized in cases of emergencies, an endless supply of soap and hand sanitizer can’t fix anxiety. The current situation is most definitely a cause for concern, but not for extreme panic. Hopefully the following tips will help you feel more prepared and relaxed during this pandemic.  

Timothy Brewer, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and its David Geffen School of Medicine, has a central piece of advice for everyone, and it’s not medical. 


Don’t panic, he said. “There’s no value in panicking or telling people to be afraid. Don’t let fear and emotion drive the response to this virus. That can be extremely difficult because it is new, and we’re still learning about it, but don’t allow fear of what we don’t know about the virus to overwhelm what we do know.” [3]

Read: 20 Coronavirus Myths Busted

What to Buy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created guidelines to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak, like creating a household plan and emergency contact list, and taking preventative measures like cleaning frequently touched items and surfaces, and washing hands often. In case of an extended stay at home, Harvard Health Publishing recommends people to stock up on the following to have for the next two to four weeks:

Medical and Health Supplies  

  • First-aid kit – The last thing you need during a pandemic is a minor emergency like a burn or insect sting without proper supplies.
  • soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer   
  • prescription medications  
  • prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment  
  • fever and pain medicine, like acetaminophen*
  • cough and cold medicines  
  • antidiarrheal medication  
  • thermometer  
  • fluids with electrolytes   
  • tissues  
  • toilet paper  
  • disposable diapers  
  • tampons and pads  
  • garbage bags  
  • cleaning supplies like laundry detergent, dish soap, and disinfecting wipes [4]

*It is has been suggested err on the side of caution and not take ibuprofen (i.e. Advil or Motrin) at this time if you have COVID-19. Ibuprofen is currently under scrutiny ever since the French Health Minister Olivier Véran announced on Twitter: “The taking of anti-inflammatories [ibuprofen, cortisone …] could be a factor in aggravating the infection. In case of fever, take paracetamol [acetaminphen]. If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs, ask your doctor’s advice.” 

Please speak with your doctor before discontinuing any recommended or prescribed medication. 


Read: French Minister: Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Aggravate COVID-19

Shopping list 

You don’t want to be stuck eating beans out of a can. Buy the essentials with a long shelf life and remember to add flavor boosters to add variety to every food. Flavor boosters can be soy sauce, mayo, mustard, cheese, olive, tomato sauce, and jams.  Here are some items to consider for your shopping list:

  • canned meats, fruits, vegetables, fish, and soups  
  • frozen fruits, vegetables, and meat  
  • dry cereal, oatmeal, or granola  
  • sliced bread, (freeze the loaf for it to last longer) 
  • protein or fruit bars   
  • peanut butter or nuts  
  • eggs 
  • potatoes 
  • onions 
  • canned and dried beans   
  • pasta 
  • rice, quinoa, and other grains  
  • chicken broth, canned tomatoes, jarred pasta sauce  
  • oil for cooking  
  • flour and sugar for baking 
  • crackers  
  • hardy vegetables that stay fresh for a while, like broccoli, celery, and carrots 
  • coffee, tea, shelf-stable milk, canned juices  
  • canned or jarred baby food and formula  
  • pet food [4]

Here’s what you should not stockpile:  

1. Masks

Although face masks have been touted as a mainstay for this pandemic, they don’t offer you much protection because they are simply too loose to prevent inhaling the virus. They are helpful for preventing the spread of the virus if the wearer is infected. Above all, these masks are necessary for those on the frontlines caring for CODIV-19 patients: doctors, nurses and emergency professionals. Stockpiling masks can cause shortages for those who truly need them. [6] 

There’s also no need for gloves. They can become as contaminated as our hands. According to Brewer, if you’re washing your hands frequently and properly, there’s no need for them. [3]

2. Hand sanitizer 

Although hand sanitizer is recommended, they are sold out in many places and not worth the stress trying to get ahold of them. Washing your hands with soap and water does the job better anyway. [7]

3. Water 

Unless the tap water in your area is undrinkable, there’s no reason to purchase extra bottled water. [8]

Don’t Overstock

One more note: buy only what you need. Yes, you are responsible for yourself, but as a citizen, you have a responsibility to others as well. Buying some extra rolls of toilet paper to last you a few weeks is fine, but you don’t need an extra 150. Everyone is in the same boat as you, and other people else may have to quarantine themselves. So let’s stay safe and courteous.  

Wishing good health to everyone!

Keep Reading: Why Are People Hoarding Toilet Paper? Psychologists Have An Answer

  1. World Health Organization. WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020—11-march-2020 March 11, 2020
  2. American Psychological Association. Stress Weakens the Immune System. February 23, 2006
  3. Reis Thebault, Alex Horton and Lateshia Beachum. How to prepare for coronavirus in the U.S. (Spoiler: Not sick? No need to wear a mask.). Washington Post. March 11, 2020
  4. Harvard Health Publishing. Coronavirus Resource Center. March 16, 2020
  5. Hannah Devlin and Sarah Boseley. Health experts criticise NHS advice to take ibuprofen for Covid-19. The Guardian. March 17, 2020
  6. Amelia Nierenberg. How to Protect Yourself and Prepare for the Coronavirus. The New York Times. March 17, 2020
  7. Katherine J. Wu. Why Is Washing Your Hands So Important, Anyway? Simthsonian Magazine. March 6, 2020
  8. Katie Warren. What to buy if you’re quarantined at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Business Insider. March 11, 2020
Sarah Schafer
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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