Coronavirus Tips and Supplies Guide: What to Buy (and Avoid) in Case of Quarantine

It’s a scary time to go shopping. There are shortages of all sorts of odds and ends, and knowing what you actually need to get you through the Covid-19 pandemic can feel super stressful. The WIRED gear team has spent the past few days talking to experts (as well as among ourselves), and have come up with this master guide to everything you might need right now (and a few things you should avoid buying for the sake of the greater good).

Need more information? Be sure to check out our full coverage of all things Covid-19, and to pay attention to any new information coming from the Centers for Disease Control and other reliable sources.

General Tips

Before we dive into supplies, here are a few recommendations from the CDC on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Stay home (especially if you’re sick) unless you absolutely need to leave.
  • If you are out and about, keep your distance from others (about six feet). Avoid groups of 10 or more.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough (into your elbow or use a tissue).
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. A lot. You can use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if you’re on the go.
  • Clean and disinfect areas in your home you frequently touch.

Food and Supplies You (Might) Need

Photograph: Daniel Grizelj/Getty ImagesĀ 

Frankly, the most necessary supplies are things you should already have on hand: Food, water, and a warm place to sleep. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have basic emergency supplies on hand.

  • 3 Weeks of Food: Don’t buy more food than you need, but now’s a good time to cook some of the dry stuff that’s been sitting in your pantry! We recommend dried beans, rice, pasta, popcorn (it’s a great snack!), and an Instant Pot (or, frankly, any pot and heat source) for emergency food supplies. Here’s a list of some good types of foods to buy, if you can find them. Canned items are great to have around. Fresh vegetables and fruit will be good for the next week or two (you can freeze those blueberries!), and frozen veggies are a good choice. Milk is fine but check the expiration date. Oat and almond milk (and Lactaid!) have a longer shelf life. Utilize that freezer.

  • Water Purifier: You don’t need to panic-buy a bunch of bottled water to reach the recommended two weeks of water in any emergency kit. It’s just a lot of wasted plastic. It’s unlikely anything will happen to your water supply. The easiest method? Snag a Pur water pitcher to filter your water if you’re nervous. We like Pur more but a Brita pitcher works fine, as well. It’s also nice to have a Lifestraw stashed somewhere safe; it’ll be good enough for most emergencies.

  • Water Kettle/Boiler: You’re likely not going to lose power, so a water boiler is also a great option. It’s wonderful for coffee, tea, and heating water faster than the stove. Here’s a basic kettle, and here’s a really nice Cuisinart kettle with temperature options. Again, don’t hoard bottled water!

  • First Aid Kit: Everyone should have one and now is a good time to make sure yours is still stocked with Acetaminophen. Here’s a cheap first aid kit on Amazon.

  • A Plan If Someone Gets Sick: It might be on paper or in a Google spreadsheet, but please read, think about, and prepare a plan for what to do if someone in your house gets sick (which room should they be in?), how to deal with childcare if local schools or daycare get shut down, and more. The CDC has a Household Plan of Action list here. It’s also a great time to make sure your phone’s medical ID and emergency contact information are up to date. Make sure you have a good medical emergency plan in place, including the names/contact information of your doctors and a list of local hospitals and clinics that take your insurance (for others to reference if you’re ill).

  • A Month of Needed Medications or Baby Supplies: Don’t forget to refill medications, pick up baby stuff like diapers, or snag other monthly-use items you might forget about, like toothpaste, toilet paper (please don’t go nuts), shampoo, or anything you are extremely low on right now.

  • Soap and Hand Sanitizer: It’s tough to find both of these, but they’ll be in stock sometime soon. If you want to try and DIY it, here’s WIRED’s guide to making your own hand sanitizer.

Stuff You Definitely Don’t Need

Photograph: Getty Images

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