Coronavirus Shopping Survival Guide
A comprehensive guide on what to shop for this week before you are locked down or quarantined. Complete checklist at the end! (Okay maybe later, I’m really tired!)
One of the very sad lessons we’ve learned from China is being locked down for extended periods have led to cabin fever and many suicides. So you must keep your spirits up! Get anything you want, including a lot of card games, board games, DVD’s, music, etc. Get some books and magazines. Keep it fun! Whatever makes you happy. You like sex? Get a lot of condoms and enjoy. Enjoy adult beverages? Stock up on beer, wine, liquor. Anything to keep you sane and in the game. Just don’t go full-on Scarface. Maybe even a real doomsday prepper guide book!
Masks, Goggles, Gloves, Hand Sanitizer, Wipes, Sprays
We start with the protective gear because it’s very hard to get now. The often seen blue or yellow surgical masks are only for those who are already sick. The N95 respirator is what is selling out in Home Depots, Lowe’s and other hardware stores. So other places would be paint stores, like Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore. Also auto parts Stores, like Auto Zone and Advance Auto. However, the cheapest and least likely to be sourced so far is a tool retailer named Harbor Freight Tools. They have 1000 stores in the USA, so there is one nearby. They sell (2) N95 respirator masks for $3 which is a very good deal. It may not be as good a fit as 3M, but it’s way better than going to Youtube for DIY face masks. We like P or N100 from Honeywell because they have a foam gasket around the edge for tight fit, and the elastic bands are thick and adjustable, far nicer than 3M. Best disposables, but surely gone. Buy 30–50 masks per person. 3M makes a small version called the 8110s for kids and people with smaller faces, but it’s pretty impossible to get until April. Best bet is Harbor Freight Tools.
UPDATE: Seems Harbor Freight is out in many locations, best to join our group to find masks. https://is.gd/yVBNFC
UPDATE 2: We are really running out of options, some Harbor Freights have, some don’t, and if all else fails, you can DIY it or try discount stores like Dollar General for cheap face masks made for garden work and such that are not N95.
UPDATE 3: I personally called my local HF this AM and they had them.
Harbor Freight is also great for disposable gloves. They sell much thicker and harder to shear gloves in 5mm, 7mm, and 9mm thicknesses, in packs of 50 or 100. Of course, you can stock up on the normal 1mm nitrile or latex gloves seen in grocery stores or any type of supply place. But they rip much easier. Still they are useful for a quick outing where you don’t expect to handle anything sharp or with a lot of force. It is interesting to note that the nurses and doctors in Wuhan use four pairs of gloves at once!
Goggles are seen as an important safety equipment to have. It’s not vital to have something that completely seals in like a scuba mask that is water and airtight. If you are not covering your whole face, droplets will land on your skin anyway, and that’s okay so long as you don’t touch your face and disinfect by spraying your face after coming home with alcohol or just washing. It’s best to think of goggles as shields for your eyeballs. Just about anything will work, from sunglasses to work safety glasses made for construction workers, to full on goggles. You can get them at any store from Home Depot to Harbor Freight, to Amazon, many choices and styles. You will want a bunch in rotation and sanitize them after each “use”. You can reference our Medium article, “Coronavirus Hygiene, How to Wear Masks, Gloves and Goggles” for details on how to wear them without infecting yourself.
Hand Sanitizer, Spritzers, and Wipes
They can be found in drug, camping, hunting, sports stores as well as grocery stores and many other types of retailers. You can also just buy grain alcohol or even vodka from a liquor store and put it in a spray bottle, or use rubbing alcohol from a drug store. You’ll want them everywhere on your person, car, home, office, etc. Wipes are useful when you must handle a surface you are unsure of. Use the grocery store kind in a pull out plastic tub for one time use, such as door handles, elevators, and use thick ones to clean down surfaces.
Gowns, Hazmat Suits, Full Face Shields, Full Face Gas Masks?
Probably not a good idea, for professionals only. The sequencing plus knowledge of how to put on and take off is beyond practical and might even self-contaminate you. Stick to the basics and with what you can handle. The guide above is hard enough!
What About My Ears?
Infection through ear canals has never been documented. However, you may have a pair of earphones handy anyway. Ear plugs are cheap and plentiful.
You can just hit Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart etc and buy boxes and boxes of water, or buy containers for storing water from Amazon. You’ll want 15–25 gallons per person. In addition to drinking water, you’ll want a reserve for cooking, cleaning, brushing teeth, and showering. (The water grid isn’t going to stop, but just in case.) Just about any jug, bottle, container will do, but for storing long-term, blue HDPE (high density polyethylene) bottles are best. We talk about how to clean water toward the end of the article.
Canned or Shelf Stable Foods
Obviously this is important. Best bet is to simply write down what perishable foods you like to eat, and then make a chart or list or spreadsheet and figure out how much of that you need for a month. You think you can live on just soup? Okay, let’s say 4 cans a day for 30 days, 120 cans of soup. Of course, you will get bored of that. To make life simple, figure out 4 distinct kinds of non-perishable food you like, and then multiple times 7, for one week supply of that. That way, you don’t have to eat the same thing until every 4th day. But hmm, if you eat a different lunch and dinner, then you will eat the same thing every 2 days. So it gets more complicated, but you see where this is going. Variety is the problem when you are planning a month’s worth of meals, especially if you have a family. If this is the case, it’s just best to get to Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, Walmart etc and simply overbuy by a factor of 3 or 4 of what you normally stock up on for a month’s worth of shopping. You may not use it all in a month, but that’s fine, you can use it later. If you don’t have time and just buy a lot of one thing, you should buy a bottle of Multivitamins. Bare minimums: with salt, with bags of Sugar, Honey, Olive Oil, and Powdered Eggs or Milk, you can survive pretty long, as a cheap way out. If you are interested here is a list of “forever foods”, 15 years or more: https://offgridworld.com/22-foods-that-will-last-forever/
Pantry Plus Freezer Way
This assumes you have electricity and things are not SHTF, which we do expect them not to be. So, another approach is to be systematic and do a spreadsheet, such as 20 pounds of rice, 10 pound of beans, etc., to start with. My friend Bill made this list for example, for 6 people.
If you have the time, energy, and resources to cook, then this is the best way. However, it is the most complicated to shop for. Costco is your best bet. One little tip, brown rice, although healthier, does not keep as long as white rice. The hull has oils so it goes rancid after a year or so. Probably the same for whole wheat flour.
The last strategy with food is to buy food survival kits from a camping or hunting store. They are emergency freeze-dried or dehydrated rations in a bucket or box that have servings packed in foil, just add water and heat. It will definitely work but the taste will not be all that familiar or to your liking. However it takes all the guesswork out of planning. There are many brands to choose from. Augason, Wise Company, Mountain House are well known, and there are veggie options. It is moderately expensive.
Last Slapdash Resort for Food
Boxes of Energy Bars and Multivitamins, but not ideal.
Coffee and Tea
Stock up also on instant coffee and tea, if you drink them.
Don’t forget your kitty or doggie food, litter, etc.
Cleaning, Bathroom, Kitchen and Household Supplies
Living at home means trying to live a normal life under lockdown and that means cleaning, and maybe some extra supplies and more types of cleaners than you are used to. It’s also good to prevent mold, or if someone gets sick god forbid, lessen bacteria around the house. We recommend:
Empty Spray Bottles
Pure Ammonia Or Ammonia Solution
General Acidic Cleaner for Bathroom
General Alkaline Cleaner for Kitchen
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Scouring Agent (Ajax, Bar Keeper’s Friend, etc.)
Drain Cleaner (Sodium Hydroxide based)
Heavy Duty Mold and Mildew Cleaner
Soft Dental Picks (GUM Soft Picks)
Tampons and Sanitary Napkins
Shower Curtain Liners
Rubbing Alcohol (again)
Dental Tools, Picks, Mirrors
Dental Irrigation Syringes (Dental tools are lifesavers, and you can clean your own teeth. Use syringe filled with hydrogen peroxide under gum line to flush out infection and food debris after picking and scraping with tools. Wait a day for pain to subside. Rinse with hydrogen peroxide occasionally. Use soft dental picks like GUM Soft-Picks Original Dental Picks to maintain after normal brushing. We recommend medium toothbrushes, not soft, unless you are sensitive.)
Dental Clay (InstaMorph — Moldable Plastic from Amazon. Believe it or not, you can fix cavity fillings and tooth chips with this material. You can also repair various broken things around the house. Temptooth is another brand.)
Contractor Bags (Really Thick Garbage Bags, good for many tasks)
Bowls for Mixing and Cleaning
Foils and Wraps
Pots and Pans
In case someone falls ill, it would be good to setup a containment area. Plastic sheeting or tarps would be the obvious choice. Clear plastic sheeting rolls are heavy duty, 6 mils and a little expensive quite honestly. Probably getting a few Patio Door or French Door Window Insulation Kits is much easier to put up with the included double stick tape plus duct tape and staples to reinforce. You can also get pre-taped (masking tape) very lightweight plastic films made for car painting. If you need heavy duty sheeting, you can just cut the Contractor Trash Bags, but they are black and opaque. You can even set up a “decontamination” area in your foyer or porch areas like this.
Frost King Patio Door Insulation Kit
3M Drape Pre-Taped Masking Film, Painting Protection Covering Film
Also make sure your vacuum cleaner is in good working order and you have filter bags.
This is controversial since it deals with natural medicine. However it works in many cases, YMMV. We assume many of you will get infected, so the best defense is to have strong immune systems and this is a list of common knowledge. Whole Foods or Natural Foods Stores, Health Food Stores, is where you want to go. Some of this you may need to order online. There is no silver bullet in Western or Traditional Medicine, go with what you feel is best.
Vitamin C, D, K
Tools, Flashlights, Clothes
Some people fix things, some people don’t. Some people build things, most don’t. For the purposes of the outbreak, you want to be able to fix things in your home if they break. You won’t need a 400 piece mechanic’s toolset, but you will want a basic set of hand tools. You won’t need the doomsday prepper arsenal of foldable saws, shovels, axes and so forth. Just the basics:
You can probably get it as a low-quality kit from any hardware store. But also have:
3/4’” wood screws
2 ½" wood screws
This is for putting things together ad hoc. You can top it off with:
Cordless Drill and Impact Driver Combo (or just a drill, even corded that’s cheaper)
½" Ceiling Tile Staples
With that you should be able to disassemble, reassemble, rearrange most of your home actually, and setup new configurations, like a temporary ward if someone is sick.
Finally, some ropes are useful, preppers like:
(2) Paracord 550 ropes, 50 to 100 feet
Paracord has a fishing line integral to it plus it can be used as an ersatz saw, and has other uses, even if it’s just a clothesline in your living room, pulling stuff around, raising and lowering things. It cannot be used as a tourniquet however. If you are worried about being barricaded in, or defending your home, you may want a sporting/hunting knife and some bolt cutters. We have seen many apartment building doors welded or chained shut in China. Not likely to happen here, but never know. If you are properly prepared you won’t have to take such measures to escape however. Paracord shoelaces are pretty cool to have. You can look at your kicks and say to yourself, “Not for civilian use, homies!”
Sure you can have some candles on hand, lighters and matches, but they are prone to accidents, especially in stressful times. It is tempting to buy the latest 2000 lumen 4-LED $200 tactical “torch” but really the most useful thing is a 300 lumen headlamp. You will see ones for camping often in stores, but they have a fixed LED with no way to widen or tighten the beam. Harbor Freight’s one does that and it runs on 3 AAA batteries. There are fancier ones, on Amazon if you like, but they run on 16850 lithium rechargeables. It’s better you get the Harbor Freight one, or even the normal camping style, because it’s much lighter, less complicated and takes normal batteries. However, try to avoid really cheap ones that use watch or hearing aid style disposable batteries. Beyond that you can get a LED lamp and a handheld flashlight.
Sort in the vein of seeing things, monoculars, binoculars, sporting scopes, and telescopes are nice to have, but not necessary. Magnifying glasses, eyeglasses and loupes are also handy sometimes.
You supposedly won’t go outside much if at all, but still have rain wear or ponchos, warm or cool clothing depending on your climate. It is a nice luxury to have 30 days worth of socks and underwear, since you could delay doing laundry for a whole month.
Whether it’s Butane or Propane, gas is very helpful even in short power outages. You can cook food, sanitize water, and so on. The ubiquitous Coleman Propane Tanks with direct attached burners or “bottle tops” for camping and backpacking is what you see most often, but we don’t recommend it at home since it’s pretty wobbly. Get at least a flat tabletop one. The other choice is Butane table top cookers, the canisters look like spray cans (cassettes) instead of wide cylinders. They are safe to operate and are pretty idiot proof. The butane cooker setup is good enough and safer, while the Coleman is more powerful and is slightly more complicated and larger. Moveable Kerosene Heaters are commonly used to heat homes in other countries but not in the U.S.A. However they are widely available on Amazon. We are not suggesting the grid will go down during lockdown, but everyone does know the grid does go down on occasion. If your heating system and kitchen stoves are electric, seriously consider these options.
Stocking batteries in AA and AAA is wise. Stock many. Rechargeables offer the best bang for buck long term and for a month’s stay at home, are more compact than buying akalines in bulk. It’s your choice. Enerloop is a common brand but we find PowerEx by Maha to be the best rechargeable Ni-Cad batteries in the USA. You will find that an 8 bank charger that charges both AA and AAA most useful, along with a “travel” size 4 bank AA charger, should cover all your needs. 9 Volt lithium rechargeable is a thing surprisingly.
Lithium Power Banks for cell phones and tablets are obviously useful and life today is recharging many devices on the regular. Now is a pretty good time to upgrade from your little one to something like a 25,000mAh bank that has a solar panel on it. There are many to choose from on Amazon, we like the simpler ones that don’t have foldout solar panels, less to break, at the expense of slower charging.
While you are at it, you might as well get an assortment of USB charging cables, USB-C, MIcro-USB, and even Mini-USB, plus Lightning for Apple, and a 5–6 port USB Charging Station. They simply plug into the wall and let you charge 5–6 USB things at a time.
Solar Generators that have standard home electric outlets (USA 120 volt) have been available for some years now. Goal Zero’s Yeti starts at $300, weighs about 5 pounds, and can power a laptop for a while easily. It’s stated at 200 watts of max output power. In addition to supplying the standard 120 volts at said 200 watts, it’s battery capacity is 187 Watt hours. (While running at 14.4 volts at a current of 13 Amps.) It’s solid but pricey. You will need to add a solar panel. We don’t find them all that useful at this size. We recommend looking at the Sunglife 500 Watt. It’s the same price, but far more power. It has 288 Watt hours vs the Goal Zero’s 187. It also has a hell of a built-in flashlight. You can run a big flat screen TV with this, if it matters, but not a washing machine or refridgerator. Sunglife recommends Renergy brand solar panels. $300 maybe the most expensive thing on this entire list, but remember, it’s free energy from thereon out, so it pays for itself, plus it’s an intro to solar. You can move up to an off-grid solar system for your place after getting used to this small system.
Gas and Big Solar Generators down below.
First Aid Kits
Usually it’s best to build your own custom kit, but there’s no time. You might have some bandages at home, maybe some wraps but that is it. Clearly we need to stock up, but on what? Well, it’s best to review what types of wounds there are, what the limits of first aid kits are, and then to circle back and find the right kit.
In a sort of least to worst list we have the following:
Incision — Clean cut bleeding heavy, may sever ligament or tendon
Laceration — Scrapes, bashed open by force, less blood more tissue damage, dirty
Puncture — Stab wound, bad if on head, torso or organs
Avulsion — Tissue that is ripped away or off, very bad bleeding
Amputation — Loss of limb, finger, toe, ear, severe bleeding. Limb loss true emergency.
So obviously just about any kit can deal with non-life threatening Incisions and Lacerations and even Punctures not penetrating anything vital. You just need various bandages, gauze pads, gauze wraps, tapes, cleaners, disinfectants, and ointments, which any First Aid Kit will have frankly, or just get whatever you like and are familiar with at the drugstore. (Just remember: Mostly you need to keep pressure so the wound closes.)
To this you can add in the stuff the kits sometimes throw in, some pain relievers, maybe some Iodine Tincture or other strong disinfectant like Betadine. You already have stuff like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol in your Bathroom shopping. So you really DON’T need a first aid kit, unless you want the box or bag. You just need to go to the drugstore or Walmart or what have you.
So that leaves Avulsions and Amputations. Avulsions can be lots of blood, it’s way beyond your little 4"x4" gauze pad and onto dozens of big pads or clean towels even. Obviously, the drug store stuff doesn’t cut it. So what do you get? For this, yes it makes sense to have a ready made “trauma kit”. These kits have stuff like Chest Seals, Israeli Bandages, Compressed Gauze Pads, QuickClot Pads or Crystals to chemically seal hemorrhaging, probably splints, and some will have a Tourniquet. They start around $50 some just handle Avulsions and Chest Traumas, some handle Amputations. You get the funny looking ER scissors and a cool bag. No you don’t get a chest needle to stab into someone’s pleural cavity or trachea to magically fix gunshots like in the movies. Should you get one? Probably not because you haven’t had any trauma training. Just don’t have a crazy accident. Plus they’re not really made for home as it’s always a to-go kind of bag deal. Who really rips off an arm at home? Put the table saw away for a month, it’ll be fine.
Any First Aid Kit will do, just supplement a bit at the drugstore. One overlooked item for scratches and allergic reactions is Witch Hazel.
Obviously you will have to stock up on prescriptions or anything you use regularly, like sleeping medications, supplements, but there are other things at the drugstore you might want a stash of:
Contact Eye Solution
Skin Care Products
What if Water Stops Running, the Electric Grid Stops Working, and the Internet no Workie?
This guide somewhat assumes you are going to be self-sufficient except for running water and electricity. However, we understand it’s possible for it to go out and it may not even be related to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. We hinted at that when we covered portable energy sources such as fuels. So let’s get into it and we’ll wrap this up!
Home Appliances, Gas and Solar Generators
You cannot power things like hot water heaters, fridges and freezers, washing machines, dryers, and other big appliances on small power banks and even larger portable solar generators. You have to step up to gasoline generators. They cannot be operated indoors, ever. In addition to getting the let’s say $800 3500 Watt Harbor Freight Predator, you would need stainless steel gas cans or Jerrycans preferably Type II and a safe way to store them. It gets complicated fast. If you are reading this you probably didn’t grow up on a farm, and wouldn’t know a Jerrycan from Tom & Jerry.
However, if you are enterprising enough, you can turn your car into a generator. You would buy a relatively cheap $350 5000 Watt Power Inverter from Amazon and you can practically run everything in your home. Truckers always have them to run laptops and electronics, if they aren’t using their 12 Volt appliances. You have to run the car all the time obviously to run an inverter, cars can idle long times, a whole day on a tank easily. However you are going to seriously shorten the life of the car battery this way, with all those electrons flying around. You would still want to have spare Jerrycans of gasoline and be safe when refilling. So like a lot in this article, trade-offs. It’s up to you to decide.
The solar thing at home is getting better by the year, 6 grand gets you a nice modest setup. It’s a bit beyond the scope of this article. But it should pique your curiosity, truly living off the electric grid! Check out companies like Renology. We have never heard of Tesla, what’s that?
Heating and Cooling
Aside from the Kerosene Heater, hopefully you have oil or gas heat, not electric heat. If you do, then maybe you should consider one. Getting a solar power bank to run a plug-in space heater is not efficient and close to the max load.
Cooling is another deal, the cool kids run heat pump style AC and heating units. They look just like in wall horizontal style AC units that you see in say local restaurants or mom and pop type stores. However, recent advances in refrigerant fluid tech means they can effectively heat in sub zero temps, plus also cool more efficiently than traditional AC units. Since they require lots of labor to install, it’s not going to work. Basically, sweat it out, Florida! Get some fans.
Running on the theme of “camping and hunting gear is not ideal for home use”, solar showers are popular on yes camping outings and home patio decks. They do heat the water nicely and at 5 gallons, it’s generous for a make do shower. It works on gravity so it’s never going to come out like a jet stream. However, we are all about efficiency and doing it cheaper and better so we suggest a $20 garden sprayer. You would fill it up and then hand pump it up to pressurize it. They are usually 1–2 gallon but since it really sprays not dribbles out it’s more efficient. The problem is that the wand is kind of awkwardly long to spray yourself with. Some preppers cut that off and replace it with a kitchen sink sprayer, which is easier to handle.
Pooping and Peeing
It’s a little uncomfortable to mention, but what if? WHAT IF?? The toilet stops running or gosh, it won’t flush and you don’t have parts. Well time to have that 5 gallon Homer Home Depot orange bucket at the ready for some good times. It’s best to cover up every time you do your thing with some peat moss because it works and it’s damn cheap. Build a throne around the bucket to sit on with some wood boards. As it fills up you will have to escort that lovely future fertilizer and put it in a isolated place to compost for 2 years. Obviously not near any water streams and obviously not near human traffic or any traffic. You could just bury it like a decent animal. After all, you are a chimpanzee with a shovel. We have lots of friends who do this and compost everything else too, they have the best farms and gardens.
Water Filtration & Purification
There are 3 basic steps to cleaning any kind of water, even from puddles.
Filtering is removing sediments and other contaminants you can see and touch. It could be a sieve, a coffee filter, your pasta colander, whatever.
This is one of the few times where camping equipment is on point for your purposes. There are many brands but right now the HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filter System Package for $24 seems to be the right thing. It has collection bags, hoses, everything. It will filter down to bacteria sized particles, which means 1 micron. I wouldn’t really trust anything that says it will filter viruses out. Viruses are around 15 Nanometers. That’s 15/1000th of a bacteria! If it does work, you can bet it’s going to filter pretty slowly. Remember, there’s always trade-offs.
This is where we get into nullifying those viruses. The simplest way is to boil for 1 minute straight according to the EPA. The high tech way is to get a “Steripen Classic 3” UV-C gadget. In about 90 seconds after you dip the wand in and press the button, the UltraViolet C light kills anything in 1 liter of water, bacteria or virus. Seems magical but science, yo, for $62. You could even get a $50 external UV Water Filter for Aquariums if you want to do more volume or continuously do it. They are designed for killing algae but work the same way. Cool science experiment for your kids.
For the rugged endtimes kind of persons, there are also chemical tablets or just plain ole bleach you can put in the water and wait a while until drinking. You can also distill water but who has time for that?
Once upon a time there was a device called “ham radio” and you can order it on Amazon. You can receive transmissions this way. Regular radios are good to have as well. You technically need a license to broadcast on ham radio, fines and penalties can be harsh depending on what and when you are doing. You can learn smoke signaling finally as well, like you always wanted to but never had the time. Here’s your chance!
That was exhausting, I hope that helps! Let us know in the comments. Please join our Telegram chat
Where to Shop:
Harbor Freight, Hardware-Paint-Auto Stores, and Online
(Masks, Goggles, Gloves)
(All Household Goods)