summer prepping, COVID-19 edition
May 14, 2020 11:57 PM   Subscribe

I am of the opinion that the second wave coming soon due to premature reopening in many states will be an unmitigated disaster, and many states are going to turn into New York. I feel we are in a brief bubble of respite due to SIP. How are you preparing for the summer mess? I'm assuming it will not be a good idea to go anywhere during the second wave, but am not assuming any complete collapse. What are you stocking up on and attempting to prepare? I know reopening could be done reasonably safely with lots of contact tracing and testing but I don't see the USA getting it's act together at all.
posted by benzenedream to Society & Culture (24 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
I didn't intend to stock up, but panic buying and buying things when I saw them led me to have a stockpile of:

Disinfectant wipes
Disinfectant spray
Hand sanitizer
TP
Freeze dried food
Canned soup
Pop Tarts
Coffee
SPAM
Protein Bars
LEGO
Cat Food
Kitty Litter

I figure I cold always trade or barter with some of these things as well. To prepare I'm trying to eat less (but SPAM sandwiches with Pop Tarts as the bread are better than you would think) and exercise to mitigate my comorbid conditions. I'm going to take care of some medical and dental appointments before any potential winter closures. I try and drive my car at least 20 minutes a week and keep a full tank of gas. I'm trying to catch up with old friends before either them or I are gone. I'm gathering important documents together and calling my executor to them where they are.
posted by Rob Rockets at 1:15 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I live with my elderly parents, and my mother is extremely fragile with multiple health issues. I made a huge order from jet.com in early February after following the news from abroad: hand sanitizer, disinfectant hand soap, disinfectant wipes, disinfectant spray, and bleach. Oh, and a case of flushable wet wipes for mom in the bathroom. I also went to Home Depot and bought 30 N-95 masks. I was already ordering nitrile gloves from Amazon to use when taking care of mom, but I ordered more boxes, and then started a subscription for a case per month. (We would be going through those at a clip anyway, because one visit to the bathroom for mom can be two or three pairs of gloves depending on how things go.) Other things I ordered on Amazon that turned out to be really useful: disposable shoe covers, for visiting nurses or work people, rewashable cloth masks with replaceable paper filters, and a batch of cheap hospital gowns just in case work people or visiting nurses felt safer using them. I found a no touch thermometer in the worst neighborhood in my city, and the only reason they had them in stock is because they were too expensive and they kept them in the stockroom, so people didn't know they had them.
I also bought at ton of small packages of anti-bacterial wipes to stash in the care, purse, etc.

All of the foregoing is to say that I am going to recheck my inventory of all of these things, and replenish what needs replenishing when they are back in stock.

I've also done some large grocery orders to make sure that the pantry is stocked with non-perishables, and the freezer is stocked with meat, and I will continue to do that.

I don't know if the supply line issues will continue or if that was just the because of the shock to the system, but the one thing I did not have to worry about having was toilet paper, because we installed bidet toilets.

Maybe I went overboard a little bit in February, but my mom is 87 and my dad is 91, and I wanted to be prepared. It gave me some peace of mind, anyway.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:19 AM on May 15 [10 favorites]


Here in the Southern Hemisphere where my 85 year old mother is happily self-isolating. Her comment, "I never was one of those touchy-feely people".

Disposable is good, but washable is better, if you are thinking long term. We agreed Napi-San and a nappy bucket might be a good solution to protective clothing, towels, kitchen and bathroom cloths. The washing machine has a heater so 60C is the default.

My mother has a good supply of overproof brandy and uses it as a disinfectant and gargle. Get the garden going - even just beans and tomatoes make a difference
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 1:39 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


A word to the wise. Antibacterial is not (necessarily) antiviral. The CV requires 60% plus alcohol content to be effective. Some outlets are pushing antibacterial (and I was one of those played for a sucker), just be clear in your mind what purpose you are purchasing for.

Alcohol sanitiser was scarce here for a while, and I used a piece of soap in a small ziplock, and a very wet washer in a bigger bag, for washing, supposed to be just as effective.
posted by GeeEmm at 2:27 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Alcohol sanitiser was scarce here for a while, and I used a piece of soap in a small ziplock, and a very wet washer in a bigger bag, for washing, supposed to be just as effective.

The CDC recommends hand sanitizer only when soap and water are not available. It's for use outside the home, rather than in it. If you can make soap and water work for you outside the home as well, even better.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:53 AM on May 15 [16 favorites]


I live in NY in Westchester County.
Things that we did to prepare in addition to things mentioned above:
Get a three month supply of prescription meds by switching to mail order.
Grocery list: 25lb bag of rice, big bags of chocolate chips, cooking oil, if you’re a soda or alcoholic beverage drinker, get your drink of choice in bulk, onions, if you’re not veg, get meat for your freezer, frozen veg, bread for your freezer. Don’t forget snacks - many will last forever in your pantry, don’t feel guilty about getting them, just do it. If you enjoy baking, get supplies.
If you have kids: stock up on clothing for the summer ahead, ditto toys, etc: kiddie pool, swim suit, sandals, sunscreen, stomp rocket, tablet for the kid, art supplies, sidewalk chalk, kite, diapers, wipes, potty training accessories,
Go get a haircut now. Buy clippers. Buy hair accessories and product.
If your library is still open, get lots of books, cookbooks and craft books, long novels, graphic novels, whatever your guilty pleasure reading is.
Thinking about doing some DIY home repair? Get your supplies now.
Thinking about growing your own fruit n veg? Get supplies now.
Are you a runner or hiker or cyclist person? Get shoes, socks, your bike tuned up and some extra tubes.
Get masks - both the fancy type and the day to day.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:28 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


I would kind of expect not a perfect re-run. By which I mean that some product will be out of stock unexpectedly or some service unavailable that was fine in the first wave. Look at what you use and need. If there is anything that can't be substituted, stock up slowly so that you are better able to cope.

Otherwise, the products we struggled with were anything shelf stable but especially pasta, toilet paper, handwash, tinned tomatoes and flour. I would consider stocking up on those staples but also recipes that use other ingredients that might be less affected. We also struggled because it was difficult to get grocery delivery and we didn't want to go to stores frequently. I would be aiming to make better use of my freezer for fruit and vegetables.

Then there's the effect of a much longer time period stuck at home. My job is medium term secure, so I have less to worry about. I'm still trying to actively connect with my professional network and need to maintain that virtually for the longhaul. Think also about things that you have been managing without but get more wearisome over the long haul - entertainment options, haircuts, clothes, treats. What do you need to do about those?
posted by plonkee at 4:51 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I ordered my regular supply of seeds in early January so I am set for this year but now I am looking at which are open pollinated and planning to grow some on to set seed. The carrots, green beans, sugar snap peas, Swiss chard, mustard greens, butternut squash, poblanos, tomatillos and corn (Painted Mountain) should all work although some are biennial and won't flower until next year. I also have garlic planted from last year's crop and sweet potatoes started from store bought roots that I can try to hold over the winter to start again. Dill and parsley are also possibilities. My tomatoes are hybrid so won't breed true.
There is a danger of propagating diseases with homegrown seed so I haven't done this before but it is another way to increase resiliency so probably worth doing this year.
posted by Botanizer at 5:08 AM on May 15


I am operating under the assumption that I will get sick at some point. Most of my professional network already has; several people in my extended network have died. Things that have been on my mind as I prep for Round 2: Electric Boogaloo:

Do you have a will?
Does your family know passwords to financial accounts?
Do you have short- and long-term disability insurance? Life insurance if you have dependents?
Do you have a fuck-off fund if your employer asks you to do something you feel is unsafe for your circumstances?
posted by basalganglia at 5:12 AM on May 15 [14 favorites]


I’m getting errands done today, before the Monday re-opening. Things I need to do in the upcoming weeks that cannot be done online. Car inspection, Post office run, buying bleach, toilet paper, etc.

Check your dried goods and see if there is anything you are running low on. Check to see if you need any first aid things in case of minor injuries (cuts, burns, etc), so you won’t have to go to the drug store.

I’m not hoarding, IMHO. I am re-stocking things that I would otherwise do in the next 2-3 weeks.
posted by Neekee at 6:26 AM on May 15


If you have a safe space to be outdoors, getting sunscreen now might not be a bad idea. Getting out will be good for most people's health and I could see sunscreen being something that there's an irrational run on.
posted by Candleman at 7:09 AM on May 15


I don't expect things to become drastically different from the current lockdown, aside from potentially lasting a much longer time and likely getting sick eventually. I did a pretty good job of preparing so mostly I'll continue to follow the same strategy (stocking up pantry/freezer with a little extra of ALL the nonperishables I use regularly plus a little more dried beans and rice than I would usually use). Don't forget all the sauces/oils/spices, plus household consumables like soap and garbage bags. Also buy or freeze a few weeks of heat-and-eat meals in case you get sick or just plain depressed.

Besides that, some things I didn't consider originally include:

Food you wouldn't use much normally but do in lockdown - My biggest mistake was not buying flour at the start because I thought I'd be too lazy to bake stuff. I'm also eating way more rice than expected, and coffee and tea have been needed in far greater quantities now that I'm drinking multiple cups a day at home. Also include some extra comfort food like your favourite chocolate.

Errands you've been putting off - I missed out on renewing my drivers license and getting a haircut (though the quarantine cut turned out surprisingly well). Winter tires need changing too.

Equipment to support being at home - I bought an instant pot for all the increased cooking and I'm pretty happy with that decision. I also bought some new baking equipment, a kettle that doesn't make me grumble about it every day, and a moka pot for coffee. People with short hair might want to get hair clippers, if you can find them anymore. Also grooming supplies for your pet (besides the extra food/treat/toys that you probably thought of already).

If you have a dog, consider buying some things to help with mental enrichment (e.g. puzzle toys, maybe some basic nosework or agility equipment if you want to get fancy) in case you become unable to walk them due to stronger lockdowns or getting sick. Similar thing for kids I assume, though I'm not a parent. Along the same lines, make sure you have a caretaker/plan in mind for kids and pets in case every adult human in the house gets sick.

Overall I prepared well originally but did underestimate how long some shortages would last and how many random things would start being harder to find at the grocery store. I still don't think it's a good idea to buy much more than a normal grocery trip amount of any one thing since the supply chains can't handle everyone doing that at once, but it's a good idea to gradually stock up on everything a little earlier than you normally would, and maybe have a contingency plan for if you run out of TP or pasta or dishwasher soap or meat or whatever and can't get more for a week or two.
posted by randomnity at 7:50 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I've been keeping my stocks up I put aside in January, with only 2 of us in the house it's not hard to maintain whats stored as long as I keep an eye on it.

Main things I'm focusing on are health & hygiene related so cleaning supplies, fall back cleaning supplies, protective gear for going out, medicines including OTC stuff. I check my stocks every 3 or so weeks before I go out to shopping & restock.

Food wise keeping my dry goods & pantry items at about a 3 months supply, which I have done for years before all this anyway as I hate shopping so I don't consider keeping it stocked up hoarding as I'm only replacing what I used.

Stockpiling my dogs food & meds without any compulsion. My dogs liver is slowly failing & he needs a specialized diet & meds so I now have a 3 month supply I'm getting up to 6 month. I figure if transportation becomes an issue pet supplies won't be high on the list. Any left over if/when he passes will go to the local shelter.

Trying to get fitter now. I'm eating better, exercising more. I'm obese with high bp so it's kind of really bought home how those things make me more vulnerable to more than just the obvious.

Though you have just reminded me I need to look into making/buying a few more masks.
posted by wwax at 7:50 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


My recommendation would be to stock up on a few weeks of supplies, but keep your supplies diverse and make sure you are leaving things for other people. Think about what you eat and how you can maximise nutrition and not sacrifice taste too much, while taking into account limitations due to storage. Potatoes and onions are okay to keep around for a while, but a lot of other vegetables might have to be frozen or out of a can for a while. I'm actually loving frozen stir fry vegetables at the moment, because I can still "eat the rainbow" without needing to stress about how to source fresh vegetables.

If you have access to a store where you can buy items in large amounts, like Costco, then this is a good option. I would recommend buying a big pack of laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid in particular. If you have cats, it might be a good idea to buy two bags of litter and two bags of food (but definitely no more than this for now, we're trying not to buy the whole shelf).

Consider whether you need to buy multiple different kinds of cleaning products and wipes, or whether there are less wasteful alternatives. If soap and water are good enough for our hands, then I don't see why hot soapy water and a washable cloth aren't good enough for wiping down most surfaces in our homes for a lot of people (barring exceptional circumstances, like a disability. Then, of course, please make use of items like cleaning wipes if you need to). I'd recommend having some washable cloths around specifically for different purposes. I have about ten which I use mainly for kitchen surfaces, which I then just wash on a 60 C intensive cycle with towels and tea towels. I have another set of cloths which can be used for germier spills, and these get put aside and washed at 95 C. While you're at it, maybe have some cloths on hand for the worst case scenario of running out of toilet paper. If it comes to this and you're particularly squeamish about germs, look into the Clean Cloth Nappy routine for washing nappies (diapers), so that you can come up with a wash routine for removing poo and pee with confidence.

If you do end up buying things like cleaning wipes or "flushable" toilet wipes, please never, ever flush them down the toilet.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 7:51 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


One more thing that's easy to forget - if you don't have AC already and have a warm summer coming up, I would strongly suggest considering your alternatives now before everyone makes a panic run on fans and air conditioners on the first hot day of the summer.
posted by randomnity at 8:01 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Echoing basalganglia above, in addition to getting your affairs in order PLEASE have a frank discussion with your health care provider about measures to extend your life should you become critically ill. Ask for the most recent data about the percentage of people who die anyway despite interventions like ventilators; it is likely much higher than you think. Put your decisions in writing and pick a health care proxy who is willing to enforce them impartially.

This is every bit as essential as having enough soap.
posted by jesourie at 8:03 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


As everyone else has covered the serious and logistical things, I would suggest you think about the next few months and what fun activities or holidays you would need supplies to celebrate. For example, taco places were slammed on Cinco de Mayo - probably there will be a run on grills, charcoal, propane, hot dogs, buns, mustard, etc, for Memorial Day Weekend and Fourth of July. What kind of warm weather equipment do you need to enjoy the summer - patio furniture, inflatable pool, sunscreen, yard games? I anticipate that a lot our slightly relaxed but still socially distant hang out activities with friends will take the form of picnics and outdoor walks - what about picnic blankets, picnic sets, camping chairs, hats?
posted by airplant at 8:17 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


At this point, I am thinking about the things we only need infrequently -- the propane tanks for cooking on the grill, for example, or the dentist appointments that were cancelled in March -- and getting those squared away as soon as we can.

No telling when the other shoe will drop this summer, and I suspect it will be less warning than last time (when we all watched for weeks as things worsened in China & Italy).
posted by wenestvedt at 8:58 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I had accidentally bought a snuffle mat for my easily-bored dog (hoping it would help her stop harassing all my garden lizards, which I kind of think it does) just before things started looking worrisome. No regrets, and my other much more elderly/docile dog seems to enjoy it too.

Definitely consider your summer-at-home comfort items - you won't be working in your climate-controlled office, do you need light/loose/more informal clothing to be comfortable? We spend 95% of our free time on the patio in spring/most of summer/fall; our mosquito season is not usually very long but we use citronella incense and a bug zapper tennis racket, so I just ordered more incense.

We're strongly considering replacing our not-much-liked refrigerator with a better model, and demoting the current one to the garage.

It took me about a month on the waitlist because I was slow to decide to join, but in April I signed up for FarmFreshToYou and re-signed-up with Imperfect Produce, just on the grounds that they are alternate supply chains and both are offering add-ons like pasta, local dairy and meat, preserves, nuts, etc. Frankly I am a lot more impressed with FFTY's offerings so far, but I am keeping both, each on an every-other-week schedule even if I decide to skip weeks, just to have them as options.

Agreed that if you're going to need additional climate control this summer, whether that's just an extra fan or two for office areas or a window unit/portable, you best get it now.

We usually have a good stock of coffee drink supplies anyway, but I did buy a new half-gallon-jar-sized cold brew sleeve with funnel and stocked in extra beans*, as my husband is a Starbucks frequent flyer and I really want him to stay away from there. I too like an iced coffee on a hot boring work afternoon, so it's nice to have. (*Someone somewhere, maybe here, tipped me off to Seattle's Best Organic Fair Trade 6th Avenue Dark Roast for cold brew and yes, that was a great tip.)

I did a big run on our usual OTC meds early this year, so we've got a year's worth of zyrtec, benadryl, ibuprofen, hydrocortisone cream, Gold Bond, mucinex, neosporin, burn pads, and bandage tape, plus the biggest box of sudafed we're allowed. I had accidentally done a big band-aid resupply early in the year as well after discovering the giant multipack I bought 6 years ago had all fused/melted/gone brittle. If you can afford it, buying enough of those things to get through 3-6 months at least would be a good idea, to avoid unnecessary drugstore runs, but not so much you're hoarding more than you'll ever use.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:52 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I've been making sure to keep contact with my neighbors - the nice people who share a duplex house with me have been checking up on me by text every so often and I've been leaving baked goods on their doorstep, that sort of stuff. I'm in good health but in a bit of a vulnerable position (just moved here, live alone, no local support network, no car) so making sure there are people close by who are inclined to help if I'm in trouble feels more important to me now than ever.
posted by btfreek at 12:30 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


We are still trying to avoid shopping as much as possible, and this includes grocery stores, the one place so many people still have to go to get things. To achieve this goal, we have joined a lot of CSAs. A veggie CSA, a fruit CSA (starting in June) and we are wait listed at a well recommended meat CSA. Wait listed, because we are definitely not the only ones who prefer to just go somewhere and be handed a box of food right now, or have them drop off the box at our door and go away.

Hopefully this will both help us, and the local farms.
posted by instead of three wishes at 1:49 PM on May 15


Make sure you have cold and flu meds, Tylenol, thermometer, ginger ale, canned soup, because you might get sick.

Be in contact with legislators, esp. your Governor, about the right course of action; they are being hounded by businesses that want to open. My gov. is listening, but the Open Now folks are Loud.

Be stalwart and disciplined about Staying In, Washing Hands, etc. This is difficult, I keep having to remind myself that a ventilator us even more difficult. This is the week that lots of people I know got bad cabin fever.
posted by theora55 at 3:00 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


In addition to the above I've also restocked my personal care items that I am finding to help me maintain my sanity, things like bath salts, face masks, lotions, candles, nail polishes. I also upgraded some linens (robes/bedding/towels) because I find those things are getting more use with sih, I have no qualms spending a lazy day reading wrapped in my robe in bed...because it distracts me from my desire to not be cooped up.

I've also been thinking ahead about things like holidays/birthdays/general mood lifting and trying to prepare by making sure I have some small decor items (napkins/candles/etc) for birthdays and important dates in my immediate household.

I've recently picked up some holiday/christmas gifts/future birthday gifts for family that the recipient might find more useful in sih then I probably would normally gift (books/games/puzzles/legos/upgraded necessities like tea kettles/headphones etc.) because generally my gift of choice is experiences (concerts/theater/museums). Maybe I'm thinking too far in advance for some people, but I prefer to shop locally and would like to spend this money now while my favorite local stores need it and while I can still do curbside or contact-less delivery from local businesses before the next wave and/or before cold starts to set in. I sometimes feel a bit like overstocked as I lean a bit minimalist in my personal life but I am trying hard to keep everything organized so that it doesn't annoy me as much and also I know it will save me time later and if/when I do get sick it will be less that I have to worry about, I know that there are special gifts for those that I love and I won't have to resort to Amazon and count on shipping working like normal. I have intentions to use some of the SIH time to also work on creating/making other gifts such as knitted scarves/lap blankets and paintings.

Again, maybe too early to think about....but I've also started buying some of our traditional thanksgiving/christmas supplies. I have no idea how traditional this winter will be, but if I can preserve some small measure with advance prep, I'm going to try.

I have to admit a part of me enjoys playing the "sih secret santa" and leaving small gifts (small potted plants, snacks, books, drawings, "treats") and short "thinking of you" notes on the desks of my co-workers, in the garages/porches of my close friends and neighbors. To that end I have also restocked some of my art supplies which which I am creating these items, paper, ribbon, glue, watercolors, etc.

Other, more general/practical things, that I don't see listed above...slow cooker liners, bug spray, weather striping, batteries, matches/lighters, a solar powered/hand crank weather radio, and we had our fire extinguishers recharged and put a new back up battery in the security system (as well as getting an extra back up).

Also, also I'm enjoying fresh fruit while I can and while it's affordable for me and dehydrating anything we have that is "extra." Specifically, anything that is labor intensive to farm/gather like strawberries.
posted by AnneShirley at 10:48 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I'm stocking up on non-perishables, but my day-to-day food is as fresh as possible. I keep the non-perishable food on a higher shelf. I don't want to get sick of it now, or run out. I wish I owned a larger freezer. It would be lovely to have jars of soup ready to eat.

I was sick. If you live alone, prepare now. More than you think you need to. Think through times you were sick—as a kid, as an adult. I'm not talking the flu. I mean, really, REALLY sick. Everyone should prepare now. When I feel better, these days, I spend the time getting my kit together. I create it under the assumption I may be debilitated with just a few hours' notice; unable to walk far; struggling to get to the bathroom; unable to stand or prepare food. I imagine I cannot move. How will I survive? The preparation needs to answer that question.

My prep in my bedroom includes:
- Station by the bed
- Electrolyte drinks and bland foods
- Clean underwear within reach of the bed
- A store of clean towels and sheets
- Enough pillows to support my body should I need to be elevated in bed long-term
- Daily medication and vitamins
- Tissues
- Water
- Humidifier, books, all the comforts I usually like to have
- Frozen foods appropriate for recovery (a smoothie can be thawed and provide nutrients that need minimal digestive energy; if you make soup, make a few that are blended)

Other prep, to do before or when I get sick, includes:
- Key placed outside the house and instructions sent to critical people who can access it
- Period supplies, shampoo, all bathroom items placed more strategically
- Pathway or supplies for someone to enter the house and provide me with food/drink/support while having minimal contact with me; this might include placing wipes and handwashing supplies differently than usual
- Accounts with delivery services like Instacart, since my energy might be too low to set them up while sick
- Commitments with people who will check in on me virtually or IRL, or can drive me; at minimum, should have a list of who these people are

Don't assume flu medication will work. It might not. Start taking vitamins and supplements. Stock up.

Do this as well as getting your paperwork in order. And encourage others to, as well. Build these bridges now so they're present when we all need them. Use silly, fun social engagements and check-ins to strengthen ties while people may not be as stressed. Get as many relationships as possible to the point where you wouldn't feel awkward saying, "Hey, do you need anything?" or reaching out if you had a need yourself. We don't know whose survival will rely on whom.
posted by rockyraccoon at 7:23 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]


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