The panic surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is providing a rehearsal for when the You-know-what really hits the fan. Unfortunately, it is revealing that we are not as prepared for this sort of thing as we should. I include myself in that "We". And the lessons are sobering.
Like most "Preppers" I have been preparing for a worst case event. I have battery powered lights, alternate ways to cook, food, water, ways to recharge my lights and electronics, alternate forms of heat, etc. But this is a comfortable crises. The water still runs, the toilets flush, the lights and heat are on. This is nothing like the Zombie Apocalypse I imagined. Or the Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake aftermath I was really preparing for. And yet, despite my best efforts, I'm not even prepared for this, so I'm not prepared for that.
Lets look at a few lessons, in no particular order:
Yes, toilet paper. I never imagined there would be a run on toilet paper. But here we are. When this is over (and it will end), I'm going to stock up on 48 double jumbo rolls of toilet paper. That should be about a three month supply. I think. Just to be sure, I'm going to start keeping track of how much TP we go through around here.
Actually I may be over reacting. We put a new double roll of TP in each bathroom on Saturday. After two days, they are not even half used up. I'm beginning to think that the 6 rolls I have will last into next week.
Fortunately, neither me nor my wife are dependent on any prescription medications. I do take some blood pressure meds, but in such low dosage that I could probably do without them in a crisis. I'll have to ask my doctor.
This morning word came out of France that Ibuprofen made COVID-19 worse. The preferred medication was Acetaminophen. So I ran out and discovered a run on the stuff was starting. I was able to score a large bottle, though.
But why join the general rush? A large supply of general medications are something that should be in every stash.
Tuna fish, Spam, Beans. They keep nearly forever and need little preparation and no cooking. They can be eaten right out of the can. But, the better thing is to mix them with other food like mac and cheese or rice. Tuna Noodle Casserole anyone?
This is one thing I have done right. I have several cases of different types of canned meat stored away. I use them regularly, so I have two cases of each type (one is none...) and get a new one when I open the last case.
I have been thinking about beans for a while. I have a bag of dry pinto beans in my stash. But cooking dry beans consumes a lot of fuel as they simmer for a long time. Canned beans are already cooked and only require a bit of fuel to reheat. This is not an issue in this crisis. But it could be in the next. I am planning to put aside a case lot of canned beans once this madness ends.
Onions, Garlic and potatoes
Maybe even some chillies? These items will store for a long time in a cool dark place. Onions and garlic add flavor to otherwise bland crisis meals. Potatoes are easy to cook and add bulk starch and fiber to a meal.
Yes, Frozen. They have all the nutritonal value of fresh veggies. They can keep for up to a year in the freezer, so you need to rotate them. Throw them into a cooler in the event of an extended power failure. Even if they thaw, they will be good to eat for a week, even longer if you can keep them on ice.
Pasta and Sauces
When I went to Walmart the other day I was surprised to see the pasta shelves were cleared. But, in retrospect, it makes sense. Pasta stores easily, keeps a long time and is easy to cook up. I did manage to score a couple of boxes of corkscrew pasta though. When this is all over I am going to vacuum pack 1 cup portions of pasta for my food stash.
Plain pasta is not very pleasant to eat. You need to have sauce. The easy way to do this is to store away a case load or two of jarred pasta sauce. Or you can make your own. Store away a case lot of caned crushed tomatoes and some bulk Italian seasoning. You can see where I'm going with this. There are also foil packets of sauce mix that will store for a long time.
A quick source of protein. It will keep for a long time. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, I may not have time for cooking as I work to contain the damage. A peanut butter sandwich or peanut butter on crackers is a quick source of energy. Another thing I'm doing right. I keep at least two very large jars in my stash.
I have another article about putting together a Flood Bucket. It's basically a bucket full of supplies to clean up after a flood. But, having a bucket full of cleaning supplies on hand suddenly sounds like a good idea for any crisis. Gonna take my own advise and make up a Flood Bucket.
Personal Care items
I suppose that if I run out of shaving cream I could always grow a beard. But what about soap, shampoo, toothpaste, extra tooth brushes, deodorant? I think I need to stock up on these items too.
I have to finish up by saying that all the predictions were wrong. There are no roving bands looters. People are generally being nice. I see people in line at the grocery store letting people with only a few items cut in. The general thought about the panic buying seems to be one of amusement, not anger.