First principles: The main goal of preparing your household for an epidemic is to get ready to shelter in place (SIP). The basic idea is to avoid getting infected and spreading the disease to others by reducing contact with the world outside as much as possible. This involves some shopping, some planning and some talking. You may need to SIP because you are told by health authorities to do so, because someone in your home is sick, or because you decide it’s the best way to keep those in your household safe. Here are some of the sensible steps you should consider in preparing to shelter in place:
- Check your prescription medications. If possible, fill any that are running low. Make copies of your prescriptions. Acquire extra medications if possible. Think about storage, transport, and how to keep your medications secure.
- Buy extra soap and hand sanitizer and/or supplies to make hand sanitizer. This includes isopropyl alcohol (90% is best, 70% otherwise) and plain aloe vera gel. Mix these to make hand sanitizer at home. Ratios depend on strength of alcohol.
- Position hand sanitizer at your front door and in the car. Get into the habit of having each person in the household use it every time anyone goes into or out of your house or car.
- Take sanitizing wipes with you when going out. Use them on doorknobs & handles, shopping cart handles, elevator buttons, and handrails. Open doors with your elbow and avoid high-touch surfaces in public places.
- Prepare and check a household go-kit that can be used if evacuation is required.
- Have 10–14 days of food in case you have to shelter in place. This includes pet food.
- Acquire extra water and/or a method of purification. It is unlikely that the water system will be effected, but there may be staffing and equipment shortages that create gaps in basic municipal services.
- Plan for where in your home you could isolate someone who is infected, preferably where there is a separate bathroom.
- Make big pots of food that can be frozen in separate portions.
- Check and replace batteries in cars, flashlights, radios, smoke detectors, cameras, and phones.
- Make a paper-and-pencil list of important people, organizations, account numbers and passwords. Imagine you have no access to your phone or computer.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Have a family meeting to discuss a plan for evacuation, infection control and sheltering-in-place with everyone in your household. This should be an ongoing process.