15 Emergency Supplies You Should Have at Home While in Quarantine

From prescription meds to pet supplies, here's what's essential to have on hand.

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As COVID-19 intensifies across the United States and around the world, more and more people are finding themselves confined to their homes and restricted from human contact. According to the American Red Cross, that means keeping a distance of "two large dogs standing nose to tail" between yourself and those around you. And while no state has mandated a completely full lockdown for residents, most people are in some form of quarantine, and have been told to restrict themselves to only essential trips outside for food, exercise, and necessary supplies. With the duration of this new way of life still uncertain, it's important to make sure you have the essential quarantine supplies you'll need to ride out the pandemic. Here's a list of where you can start.

1
Food

Stocked pantry of food
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Most experts agree that you should have about two weeks' worth of food on hand in an emergency. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, grocery stores are still open and largely stocked, so stockpiling more than two weeks' worth of groceries is unnecessary. FEMA makes a solid recommendation that you should also consider the order in which you consume your food: perishables go first, then frozen goods, and then non-perishables. As long as you are careful of packaging and handling food, you can still enjoy takeout during our current crisis, which has the added bonus of supporting local restaurants that may be suffering.

2
Medication

Medicine cabinet
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Given the uncertain nature of things, the AARP recommends having at least two weeks' worth of essential and lifesaving prescription medicine on hand—provided that your insurance company and pharmacist will approve that much. You should also make sure you have a supply of over-the-counter medicines, such as pain relievers and cold medicines. If your Tylenol bottle at home is half full, buying a new bottle earlier rather than later wouldn't be a bad idea.

3
Drinking water

Water bottles
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Municipal water supplies, including drinking water, have treatments and filtration that remove COVID-19, so the water from your tap should remain potable throughout the pandemic. Water can be stored indefinitely, so you might want to have some on hand for any future emergencies. You'll just need to be conscious of where you store any plastic bottles—keeping them out of the range of fumes from chemicals and cleaners, and away from sunlight or heat.

4
First-aid kit

First aid
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While in quarantine, you may be faced with small injuries that you treat at home: scratches from working in the yard, bruises from wrestling with the dog, bites from your siblings, or splinters from that woodworking project you suddenly have time for. A small, well-stocked first-aid kit should help you with the little injuries so that you don't have to seek outside medical care. The Red Cross offers a comprehensive list of recommended items for you to include, and many companies sell pre-stocked kits.

5
Baby supplies

Baby supplies
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Luckily, babies are less vulnerable to COVID-19, but there is still a lot that is unknown about the virus and babies, so be cautious and have a reasonable backup supply of things like baby formula, food, diapers, and other essentials. If your child has any ongoing conditions, such as asthma, make sure you have enough medication on hand for a few weeks. And if family currently helps with your children, or if you rely on professional caregivers, you may not be able to allow those individuals near your baby during a quarantine, so make sure you have everything you need at home.

6
Pet supplies

Dog with bowl of food
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You may be prepared for anything, but you should also make sure your furry friends have a surplus of supplies. That includes having enough kibble, cat litter, or anything else your pets may require. All evidence points to pets being immune to COVID-19, though you should have a plan in place for your pets in case you fall ill and can no longer properly care for them.

7
Soap and disinfectant

Liquid soap
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In a medical quarantine, you'll want to make sure that you consistently wash your hands. You'll also want to frequently disinfect anything that comes close to your face (read: your phone). Make sure you have enough hand soap and hand sanitizer as well as cleaning products for your home. If you're stuck inside for a few months, you may be able to use the time to clean some areas of your home or apartment that frequently get missed.

8
Toiletries

Shampoo and conditioner in shower
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If you're stuck at home and out of sight of your coworkers, you may want to take this opportunity to grow out your beard or skip some of the less essential components of your personal grooming routine. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a few months' worth necessary hygiene products—including toothpaste, laundry detergent, lotions, and deodorants. Make sure you have enough for—at the very least—14 days. Don't forget solution for your contact lenses!

9
Flashlights and candles

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If you are concerned that there may be a blackout during a quarantine, make sure you have alternate sources of light on hand. Double check your supply of flashlights, candles, lighters, and matches. The government recommends at least one flashlight per family member.

10
Work supplies

Office supplies on desk
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If you were able to transition to working from home while in quarantine, count yourself lucky that you can keep your income stream flowing. As soon as possible, make sure that you have everything you'll need to complete your work in a satisfactory and timely manner. These supplies may include items such as printer ink, paper, power supply cords, and any computer software you might need to connect to your company's network remotely. Make sure your home office, or spot on the sofa, is comfortable and ergonomic.

11
Batteries

Box of AA batteries
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During an emergency, ensuring that you have enough batteries will be essential. Check your devices—flashlights, hearing aids, smoke detectors, etc.—to make sure you have at least one set of back-up batteries for each device. Many of our modern smart devices use rechargeable batteries or battery packs, so make sure that you have a way to charge the essential devices in your life.

12
Exercise equipment

Man using weights at home
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If you are a regular gym rat, and you're worried about sinking into the sofa during a quarantine, make sure you have at least a basic set of exercise equipment at home. If you're an apartment dweller, you may not have room for a Peloton bike to get your heart rate up, but that doesn't mean you can't still work on your fitness. Bodyweight exercises can build muscle, and apps like Nike Training Club offer workouts that use varying levels of equipment.

13
Personal records

Personal documents in file drawer
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You may not need your birth certificate in the middle of a quarantine, but you never really know. Make sure that you have all your identification documents, including your Social Security card, license, and passport, on hand just in case. If you're quarantined because of a medical crisis, such as COVID-19, having a copy of your medical records on hand might be helpful. And remember you are legally allowed to access all your records even if you have outstanding medical debt.

14
Entertainment

Board games
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We all need to wind down, even during a quarantine. So when you stop frantically refreshing your news apps, make sure you have something on hand to stimulate yourself. Thankfully today we live in a world where entertainment can stream through our phones, computers, and televisions. Even a decade ago the recommendation would have been to stockpile DVDs, but in today's cord-cutting world, we have more streaming video apps than ever before. If binging Star Wars or re-watching Breaking Bad doesn't hit your pleasure center, make sure your personal library is well stocked with a mix of books and magazines. Puzzle sales are booming, so get them while you can. And when all else fails, break out a pack of cards and play Solitaire.

15
Toilet paper

Bathroom cabinet with essentials
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We all need toilet paper, so the question becomes just how much do you need. Even if you can't get toilet paper, you may still be able to get the job done with facial tissues or wet wipes. Just be careful about what you flush, because some things aren't as flushable as their marketing suggests, and the last thing anyone wants to deal with during a quarantine is plumbing issues. In the case that your neighbors have stockpiled all the toilet paper from your local stores, leaving none for your family, you may want to consider buying a cheap attachment to turn your toilet into a bidet. Voila!

Adam Shalvey
Adam Shalvey is a writer based in Rhode Island. Read more
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