With thousands of U.S. citizens under quarantine, more and more people are looking for ways to get their affairs in order. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that the coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the country, and it’ll only get worse before it gets better.
It’s true this virus has a low death rate and that there’s no reason to panic. Still, it’s vital to stay prepared for any outcome.
You should stay calm, but be proactive. There’s no need to join the hoards of people buying up stock at every grocery store, but don’t wait until it’s too late to start your coronavirus preparations.
It’s already easy to see that this virus is impacting travel, work, and day-to-day lives. Because it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by what steps to take, follow this coronavirus checklist to get your affairs in order during an outbreak.
Step 1: Talk to Your Employer
One of the most pressing concerns in an emergency outbreak like this is what happens to your workplace. You rely on your paycheck to make ends meet, so this is your economic safety net. Many employers are allowing workers to go remote, completing their tasks at home. Others are closing up shop altogether.
What plans does your employer have in place? Are you able to work from home? Consider talking to your employer about your sick days and whether they’re operating as usual during the virus outbreak.
Keep in mind that many employers are closing at the last minute, leaving employees scrambling. This is a good time to begin saving, just in case.
Step 2: Stock Up on Food and Water
If you’re facing a hurricane, blizzard, or another natural disaster, you know to stock up on food and water. The same is true for the coronavirus or any type of virus outbreak. While stores might still stay open as usual, especially grocery stores and big-name stores, you should still be prepared.
You’re not stocking up on food and water because they won’t be available. You’re stocking up in case you need to quarantine.
The current recommended quarantine period for those who have coronavirus or are at risk of exposure is 2 weeks. That means you need enough food to last for 14 days. This includes:
- Canned foods (Beans, tuna, soup, fruit)
- Nonperishables (Grains, oats, pasta, rice)
- Baby food
- Pet food
- Snacks and comfort food
Don’t just choose whatever cans you can find. Consider what you actually eat in the week, as well as foods you’d like to have on hand if you’re sick. You should also prepare 1 gallon of water each day for every person in the household.
Don’t forget your pets, as well! If you’re not able to find water at the store, fill gallon containers in your home with water from the tap.
Step 3: Purchase Hygiene Items
If everyone increases their personal hygiene, we can slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The best way to protect yourself from contracting the virus is simply by washing your hands and avoiding touching your face. But, it doesn’t hurt to put together a quarantine kit with soaps and disinfectants for your home. Things to include are:
- Toilet paper
- Laundry detergent
- Cleaning wipes
- All-purpose disinfectant
- Feminine care products
Don’t hoard more than you need. We’re seeing an increasing trend of people stocking up a month’s worth of hygiene items or more. When you take this much, institutions that really need these supplies no longer have access. Only take what you need for your family.
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Step 4: Create a Medicine Kit
Because hospitals are only for those who are very sick, you might find yourself at home if you have a mild case of the coronavirus or the flu. Hospitals have limited resources during an outbreak, and these resources are best used on those who are immunocompromised or at risk.
You can easily prepare a medicine kit at home with your prescriptions and any over-the-counter medicines you might need if you’re quarantined. Have enough for 30 days at least, since there might be a shortage. Things to get include:
- Fever reducer and pain killer
- Cough suppressant
- Anti-nausea medication
- A first aid kit
When in doubt, talk to your doctor about your specific needs. Know when it’s time to go to the hospital, and know when it’s okay to stay home. Stay up-to-date on the CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of coronavirus if you do become sick.
Step 5: Prepare Your Documents
The coronavirus is an important reminder that you need to have a plan in place when it comes to your future. While we don’t always like to think about how some aspects of our lives are out of our control, a virus outbreak like this focuses us to consider the reality of the situation.
Luckily, most people won’t find themselves needing a will, advanced directive, or healthcare agent during the outbreak. However, this is still the prime opportunity to take care of these documents in case such a situation does happen.
In addition, we can help those in our lives who are more vulnerable, like aging parents and grandparents, start their preparations.
If you haven’t already, prepare the following and start the conversation with your loved ones:
- Advanced directive: An advance directive is a type of legal document sharing your medical wishes if you’re not in a position to make them yourself. In addition, it names a health care proxy who makes decisions on your behalf.
- Will and estate plan: Nobody wants to think about what happens when they die, but this is a vital way to ensure your affairs are fully in order no matter what. You can easily start end-of-life planning online with no complicated steps needed. At the very least, this helps you identify your wishes, so you’re prepared to talk with loved ones.
We know how intimidating it is to get these things in order. Taking the first step is often the hardest, but it gets easier. Prepare your documents and store them somewhere safe.
Talk to your loved ones about getting their documents prepared, and make sure everyone has access to them. The only thing harder than talking about these things is having to make a difficult decision without knowing what your loved one wanted.
Step 6: Practice Social Distancing
If you’ve watched the news recently, you’ve likely heard the phrase “social distancing” thrown around quite a bit. This is a way to limit the spread of the disease by avoiding contact with too many people. Obviously, this isn’t always avoidable, but you can still take a few steps like:
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first
- Stay away from crowded events like concerts, seminars, and tourist areas
- Stay home if you’re feeling unwell
If you or your loved ones are high-risk, it’s best to stay home as much as possible. The virus will take weeks or even months to slow the progression of cases. In the meantime, we should do all we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy.
With social distancing comes making a plan for your family. How will you stay connected? What types of events will you reschedule or avoid? Now is the time to have these conversations.
While it might be hard, this is the time to cancel vacations, skip the nights out, and work from home whenever possible. Remember, this is only temporary. Focus on staying safe now so you can enjoy life to the fullest later.
Step 7: Check with Local Authorities
Last but not least, stay up-to-date with local warnings and authority messaging. While it’s tempting to fall into the 24-hour national and global news cycle, what matters most is what’s happening closer to home. The media thrives in events like this, so keep that in mind when reading the headlines and scrolling through news channels.
Instead of religiously checking for updates at all hours, set a specific time of the day for checking in with authorities. Look for official websites like the CDC, as well as local government sources. This is the best way to learn about exposure in your area as well as the best means of prevention. Always take these warnings carefully! It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The same goes for local authorities near your loved ones. If you have at-risk family members, check with their local news organizations and leadership as well. This is a time for coming together (virtually) to ensure everyone is taken care of effectively.
Preparation Can Give You Peace of Mind
As the coronavirus officially becomes a pandemic, now is the time to get everything in order. It’s not too late to stock up on essentials or prepare medical documents like power of attorney. Even if you don’t find yourself personally affected by the coronavirus, this is a great reminder that we should always be prepared just in case.
Let this virus be a wakeup call for emergency preparedness. While we can’t predict the future, we can take steps to become ready today. Preventing the spread of the virus is our top priority, so take this checklist above seriously. Check-in with your loved ones and do the best you can under the circumstances. At the very least, you’ll feel more prepared for any emergency scenario in the future.
- “Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC.gov.