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Preparing For Coronavirus: The Supplies Parents Should Gather

There’s no need to panic. But some just-in-case shopping is a good idea.

It’s always good to be prepared, especially in the case of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. In major parts of the country, schools are closed, and parents are holed up at home with their kids, trying to do actual paid work when possible. For parents, whose everyday lives are regularly disrupted even in the absence of a global pandemic, that means it’s time to get a jump on the seemingly *cough* inevitable: Illness.

There’s no need to hoard supplies but smart shopping is a good idea. It’s possible to do this without going full on riot-mode. You don’t need to go all Blackout of ’77 and buy a wild amount of supples. It’s wise, however, to hit the pharmacy and the grocery store with a list (or even better, socially distance yourself by shopping online), and get products you need to get through the next few weeks. 

Hand soap

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. 

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  1. How hard has it been to convince your parents and in-laws to stay home during coronavirus?
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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. 

Dried Goods

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 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. 

Cold Medicine/Prescriptions

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). Though doctors can’t say with confidence that this inoculation will help with COVID, many believe it will and there’s no clear downside.

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. 

Baby Food/Formula/Diapers

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. 

Powdered Milk 

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. 


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. 

Paper Towels/Toilet Paper

They’re necessities. So buy some extra rolls — enough to last 30 days — when you’re at the store. 

Screen Disinfectant

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 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. 

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. 

Pet Food/Supplies

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. 

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.

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.

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.