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Stocking your coronavirus home quarantine kit is like getting ready for a hurricane

What happens if you have to “self-isolate” because of coronavirus? It’s sort of like getting ready for a hurricane. Here’s how to get your emergency kit ready.

Getting ready for coronavirus is kind of like getting ready for a hurricane, something Floridians already know how to do.

There are now three patients — two women who are quarantined in Hillsborough and a man from Manatee — who have tested positive as of Tuesday, and state officials expect more to test positive in the coming days.

The Florida Department of Health is asking people traveling from China, South Korea, Iran and some parts of Japan to “self isolate” at home for several days. Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people sick with respiratory-disease symptoms voluntarily stay home.

Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees says the overall threat to the public remains low. Still, what happens if you have to “self-isolate” at home? The Tampa Bay Times asked the American Red Cross, health officials and other organizations how to build a home emergency kit, just in case.

Turns out, it’s kind of like preparing a hurricane kit.

Food and water

The American Red Cross and Department of Homeland Security suggest keeping a two-week supply of food for everyone in your home.

Start with dry goods such as rice, pasta, beans, and oats, Alyssa Pike, a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council, told Business Insider.

Canned foods that contain liquid, such as tomatoes, beans and tuna, are useful, Pike says, because the liquid can be used to cook dried food like rice and pasta.

Now this is the most important thing to remember: You need a can opener. It’ll come in handy for hurricane season, too.

Snacks, crackers or nuts are good to have on hand, as well.

Comfort foods such as chocolate or coffee aren’t essential but can be important for your mental health, Business Insider writes, if you find yourself stuck at home for a long period of time.

And don’t forget your pets. You’ll need a two-week supply of food and water for them, as well.

If you don’t drink tap water, you’ll want to have a supply of bottled water on hand or hydrating drinks such as Gatorade or Pedialyte.


Regular and thorough handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself against coronavirus, according to the CDC. Soap and water and most household cleaners will kill the virus.

Have a supply of household supplies like laundry detergent and bathroom items available, the Red Cross says, and diapers if you have small children.

The Oregonian suggests stocking up on antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer with high (at least 60 percent) alcohol content, toilet paper, tissues, disinfecting wipes, feminine care products, diapers, laundry detergent, dish soap/detergent and cat litter.

Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace, the Red Cross says.

Prescription medication

You’ll want to make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your prescription medications on hand, the Red Cross says, as well as other supplies, such as pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.

You can ask your insurance provider to approve an extended supply.

Emergency contacts

Create a list of local organizations that you can contact should you need access to information, health care services, support and resources, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consider including organizations that provide mental health or counseling services, food, and other supplies.

The agency also recommends keeping a current list of emergency contacts for family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department and other community resources.

Talk with family members about how they would be cared for if they got sick or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

Electronic records

The Department of Homeland Security recommends getting copies and maintaining electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies. You can find help accessing electronic health records here.