The coronavirus has now spread to 42 countries and according to the CDC, there are 53 confirmed cases in the United States. This week, the CDC immunization chief said that she told her family to be prepared for a “significant disruption of our lives” in the event that the Coronavirus hits their city.

Don’t panic. But also don’t put off planning because you don’t want to panic.

Now, this post isn’t meant to encourage you to dig a bunker in your backyard and fill it with MREs and enough hand sanitizer and dry shampoo to last until 2030. But, as my friend and NY Post columnist Karol Markowicz (read her columns and follow her on Twitter!), suggested in a post on Facebook, it might be a good idea to prepare for what emergency management officials call “shelter in place,” which is when you’re advised not to leave your home for a certain amount of time—usually a few days to a week. This guidance will certainly be issued if and when Coronavirus hits an urban area, as public health officials will more than likely use “shelter in place” as a first step in trying to stop the spread of the disease. 

As such, you might need to spend a few days or even a week or two indoors (don’t worry, there’s no evidence that Coronavirus makes the electricity, cable or Wi-Fi go out so you might survive!). So why not stock up on some things you will eventually use anyway. Karol compiled a short list of suggestions (to which I’ve added a few items), but obviously get whatever your family would need or prefer if deliveries are interrupted (such as the many products that are made in China) and you couldn’t make it to the grocery store. 

It’s important to know that this will be true whether or not you are sick.

First off, if you’re going to get a mask, get an N95, which is mostly sold out on Amazon. If so, check your local hardware store for the 3M masks and make sure they can fit the face of a child. You may want to also buy children’s masks if you can’t find one suitable mask for the entire family. 

Other items to stock up on:

  • Water
  • Advil
  • Children’s Advil
  • Pedialyte
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lysol—spray and wipes
  • Bleach
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Pasta—you can get the type that cooks up fast too
  • Canned soups that kids like (chicken noodle is a hit with my guys)
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars and/or protein bars
  • Toothbrushes 
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Disposable plates, cups and utensils

As Karol mentioned in her post—make this a personal list. She reminds people that if you have a baby, make sure you have extra diapers. If you have allergies, be sure to have extra packs of allergy medicine. If you take prescription drugs, many of which are made in China, see if you can get extra, in case the supply line takes a hit. 

Karol is smart about what food to buy. She advises one not go crazy and buy a ton of prepper food that your family won’t eat after this is all over (and for heaven’s sake, don’t buy those doomsday food rations that are advertised on Fox News Channel). Just buy the type of food your kids will eat any day. My kids love chicken noodle soup and plain pasta and protein bars and can eat peanut butter by the spoonful (no bread required!). But if your kid prefers raisins and crackers and beef jerky, stock up on those. 

Just get what you’ll use when everything turns out ok. 

Karol ended her post with this great line: “Don’t panic. But also don’t put off planning because you don’t want to panic.”

That’s good advice. Now, take a deep breath and do a little shopping.