ATLANTA (CNN) – As the weather gets colder and we face the double threat of flu and an increase in COVID-19 cases, it is now an excellent opportunity to stock up on food and supplies.
COVID-19 cases are likely to increase during the winter months for three reasons: “First, the virus that causes COVID-19 is a coronavirus, and other coronaviruses spread more during the winter months,” said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
“Second, during the winter months, the air is less humid. Particles that carry the virus can linger longer in the air. In addition, our nasal membranes are drier and more vulnerable to infection.”
In addition, when the weather gets colder, people spend more time indoors, where the virus has an easier ability to spread given the lack of adequate ventilation that would diffuse virus particles. “All of this is why we need to pay extra attention during the winter months,”
In addition to following the safety instructions, part of this vigilance includes having the right kinds and quantities of food and medical equipment in stock to limit travel to stores.
“Any winter season can cause storms, power outages, delays in shipping critical goods to local or online stores, so it’s important to know that you have all the necessary measures to manage these potential events,” said Susan L. Polan, associate. CEO of Public Affairs and Advocacy at the American Public Health Association via Email.
“COVID-19 waves and the flu can make trying to buy supplies harder – or more risky if you or your family members are sick. You will want to do everything you can to make sure you and your loved ones are safe.”
Here’s what you need to have on hand in your pantry, freezer, medicine cabinet and more to limit errands and in case of illness, quarantine or disaster this season.
Household cleaning and protection
For regular hand hygiene and after receiving deliveries, checking your mail or shopping, you need soap and hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, the US Centers for Disease Control recommends.
If you have sick roommates or family members, you need napkins and disinfectant for frequently affected surfaces such as kitchen tables and door handles. In that case, you also need latex gloves and to know how to remove them safely.
You need extra toilet paper for … obvious reasons – but how much do you really need? In response to the pandemic, a student software developer and artist based in London created Howmuchtoiletpaper.com to answer this very question.
Face masks are essential for the errands you need to accept deliveries and if you or a housemate is ill.
For your medicine cabinet
In case of illness with COVID-19 or any other disease you should use cough drops and syrup for cough symptoms, decongestants against congestion, acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain and fever and antidiarrheals. Keep adhesive bandages in stock for wounds.
If you have a condition, “regularly check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home,” suggests Ready, a national U.S. public service campaign for emergency preparedness. A seven to ten day supply stored in childproof containers should be sufficient.
In the event of an emergency, it may be helpful to have handshakes or electronic health records so “you do not encrypt when trying to leave your house,” Polan said.
Fever is a symptom of both COVID-19 and the flu, so keep a thermometer on hand to check your temperature if you feel hot. Dentures and contact lens supplies, hearing aid batteries and feminine hygiene and baby supplies are necessary if applicable.
And “get your flu shot,” Polan said. “It’s the best way to avoid getting the flu, and it’s important to reduce the impact on an already congested healthcare system.”
Prolonged food and snacks
There is no need to empty the shelves at your local grocery store, but you can save a little extra to limit trips to the supermarket and have food on hand if you are in quarantine. Store a two-week supply of water and foods that are not perishable, easy to prepare, and compliant with food allergies or restrictions.
Canned beans, legumes and fish fill nutrient-rich protein sources and omega-3 fatty acids. Peanut butter is packed with healthy fats and goes well with many foods. Whole grain and bean pastes, oats and grains are solid staples.
Canned soups, high-fiber cereals and protein bars are quick meals and snacks. Canned and frozen vegetables and canned fruits and sauces. And do not forget the snacks: Dried fruits are rich sources of iron, fiber and antioxidants; nuts can be good sources of calcium and vitamin E.
For hydration, store at least 1 liter of water per day. Person pr. Day. If you enjoy milk- or plant-based milk or coffee, buy shelf-stable milk and coffee grounds. Animal proteins, hard cheeses and bread can be frozen.
A disaster preparedness kit
Having an emergency stockpile is “always good to have … because you do not know when disaster will strike,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. In addition to the aforementioned things, this set includes:
- A flashlight and batteries
- Battery-powered radio and batteries
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Swiss Army knife
- Paper and pencil
- Cash, traveler’s checks and coins
- Disposable dishes and utensils
- Pet food
- Fire extinguisher
- Needles and thread
- Extra set of keys and IDs
- Duct tape and scissors
- Local maps
- First aid manual
- Antibacterial ointment
- Garbage bags
- Mobile phone chargers and backup batteries
Last but not least: Entertainment
This winter, you need opportunities to help time get stuck inside with people you’ve been glued to for months. You do not want to catch a case of cottage fever.
Many people started baking bread in the earlier months of the pandemic, but autumn is the best time for baked goods. Make sure you have key ingredients and appliances when you need to satisfy your taste buds or work through your emotions.
The pandemic has not changed that we are still living in the season of falling leaves, creepiness and comfort foods. See our list of 50 fun things to do in the fall like baking pumpkin bread or creating an autumn calendar – and make a note of what you need to do them.
Puzzles and games are not only entertaining; they are pedagogically and developmentally beneficial. Sales of the board game Monopoly have increased during the pandemic. Apples for apples, Uno, Jenga and charades are also always fun.
It will be even harder to follow safety protocols, “when we get into the winter and can not go for walks outside or enjoy time with friends or family, even masked and at least 6 feet apart,” Polan said. “Think of ways to stay physically distant but remain socially connected.”
Creativity can boost your mood and distract you from pandemic blues, so it’s also a good idea to store supplies needed for your hobbies.
“These are suggestions, but everyone needs to think about what they need to live comfortably,” Freeman said.
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