The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. Schools switched to remote learning. Anyone who was able worked, and continues to work, from home. And to this day, even as businesses open up, it’s hard to get your hands on coveted items like cleaning products. Those are the obvious must-haves, but there are other coronavirus supplies that it’s good to have at home, both during the pandemic and just in general, as life begins the slow lurch of returning to some semblance of normal.
At the same time, while smart shopping is a good idea, there’s no need to hoard supplies. And even if, or when, we have a vaccine, these are all products parents should have on hand because if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s that it’s always smart to expect the very unexpected.
Repeat after us: I will wash my hands regularly. Regular, lengthy hand washing (the CDC recommends washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or twice the length of the happy birthday song) is, hands-down, the best way to prevent the virus from spreading.
All hand soap is basically the same. Pick the brand and scent you like, and wash your hands for 20 seconds.
Canned Goods in Water
Black beans. Pinto beans. Tuna in water. Tomatoes in water. Canned goods have a substantial shelf life and offer good nutritional value. Prioritize those that are in water, as, in a pinch, that liquid can be saved to rehydrate dried goods.
Use canned beans like these, shipped in bulk, for stews, tacos, chili, whatever you want. They last just about forever.
A good staple to have regardless of the circumstance. Such items as rice (brown and white), lentils, oats, and pasta are long lasting, simple to store, and offer significant nutritional value. Same with nuts. Just be sure to store them in air-tight containers and in a cool, dry place.
A 12-pack of dried rotini pasta is something you need to have at home, because pasta was one of the toughest things to find during the height of the pandemic. It has a long shelf life and kids love it.
A Few Bottles of Bleach
While the real threat of the virus is person-to-person contact, disinfecting surfaces with bleach or disinfectant wipes will likely kill the virus on surfaces as it does for the regular flu. A lot of stores have this in stock, but available via pickup only.
Per the CDC, use 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water to clean surfaces.
Buy whatever your go-to cough and cold medicines are (the doctor we spoke to recommended ibuprofen, Tylenol, Sudafed and Delsym) and dissolvable electrolyte solutions (pedialyte or Gatorade) as well. If you or your child is on a prescription, consider trying to get an additional month of meds even if you have to pay out of pocket (this simply requires a call to a doctor from either yourself or the pharmacist). Is this potentially expensive? Yes. But it may save some hassles if there is a run on meds or if access to pharmacies is somehow cut off.
While you’re at the pharmacy get the flu shot if you haven’t already and feel healthy (no sore throat, congestion, cough).
Shampoo, Soap and other Personal Care Items
Toothpaste is another basic essential you should have at home, because when you run out, it’s going to suck. Same with soap and shampoo. Please don’t go nuts and buy 300 bottles of anything, though. Hoarding is not a good look.
Pick a toothpaste you like, and have a couple of tubes in the bathroom for when you run out.
Take a shower and wash your hair. You'll feel better and it's always good to stick to some kind of schedule. Plus, you won't worry about running out of shampoo if you stock up (a little).
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
As they’re blanched and then frozen soon after harvest, frozen fruits and vegetables are nearly as nutritious as fresh vegetables but with a far longer shelf life. So stock up on frozen berries, spinach, peas, carrots, and other such items just in case.
Diapers. Baby cream. Formula. Jarred baby food. Even if it’s not needed in the near-future, you’ll need some eventually. Purchasing some additional cases of staples is a smart idea.
Stocking up on diapers is always a good idea.
You'll never regret having too many hypoallergenic baby wipes.
This diaper rash cream is 40 percent zinc oxide, which is the main ingredient that dermatologists recommend parents use.
Powdered milk is a go-to survival staple for a reason. It lasts anywhere from 2-to-10 years and, mixed with water, offers a protein-rich drink for adults and children alike. It’s also useful to have on hand for mixing oatmeal or other such foods that require milk.
You can also opt for shelf-stable milk, which is good for several months before you open it. Once it’s opened, it’s good for about 10 days and needs to be refrigerated.
This milk from grass-fed cows isn't powdered, but you don't need to refrigerate it.
Runny noses need tissues, so buy some additional boxes as you would if you had a bad cold or the flu. And — say it with us now — toss those used tissues in the trash, not in your pockets, not in a pile on the arm of the couch. In. The. Trash.
It’s worth noting that as with cleaning product, most paper products are available for in-store purchases only. Which is unfortunate, but it is what it is.
Paper Towels/Toilet Paper
They’re necessities. So buy some extra rolls — enough to last 30 days — when you’re at the store.
The CDC recommends regularly cleaning “high-touch” surfaces a category into which fall phones, tablets, remotes, and screens. Using rubbing alcohol, window cleaner, dish soap, vinegar, surface disinfectant wipes, and even paper towels could damage a phone or device’s delicate screen. The best way to clean a phone is with a damp microfiber cloth or approved screen-cleaning wipe like 3M’s Notebook Screen Cleaning Wipes. Another great way to disinfect electronics is with a phone sanitizer like PhoneSoap. It zaps devices (anything that fits — not just phones) with UV light and has been proven to eliminate 99.9 percent of surface bacteria.
You can sanitize your phone (any brand) in 3 minutes or opt for a 15 minute intense cleaning.
Laundry Detergent and Dish Soap
Clothes will still need to be cleaned. So will baby bottles, dishes, and the thousand other things that require a good scrubbing. Buying three or four containers of detergent as well as a few larger containers of dish soap to refill bottles is a good idea.
If you have the space, keep a container of detergent pods on hand. This type is fragrance-free.
Pets need consideration, too. Buying some extra cat or dog food as well as litter and any other necessities is smart to remember as you’re assembling just-in-case items.
Dry dog food has a long shelf life, and it's always good to have a bag on hand. This particular type is made with deboned chicken and brown rice.
How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?
This book by Jane Yolen tells the story of some sick monsters trying their best not to be monstrous in the face of infection. It’s a helpful learning tool to normalize the experience of illness. It is, after all, part of life.
Preschoolers learn all about what happens when a dino gets the flu.
Remote Learning Tools
With schools closed everywhere from New York City to Los Angeles to Austin, kids are, in theory at least, going to be attending digital classrooms. You want to be prepared, so make sure they have headphones with microphones so they can listen to and communicate with teachers and students. Plus, because books are always a good idea, a Kindle is a great investment if you don’t already have one.
Chances are good that your kids are on screens. A lot. These outstanding kids' gaming headphones work on PCs, Apple products, PS4, Xbox 1, as well as phones and iPads. And they have a volume limit of 87 decibels. There's a built-in microphone for taking part in remote learning classes.
These headphones aren't fancy, and they don't need to be. They pair with any Bluetooth-enabled device, are comfortable, and have 15 hours' of battery life. Plenty for math or creative writing classes.
Your kid will be spending a lot of time on screens. This is one of the best options out there, given its stellar parental controls. It has two cameras, rear-facing and front-facing. Plus you get an eight inch HD display, 32 GB internal storage, up to 10 hours of battery life, and access to the internet as well as a ton of books. Because you'll want your child reading something. Anything.