How to Prepare a Household for the Coronavirus Pandemic

Updated: October 19, 2022
In this Article

    The military community is taking precautions by stocking up on household essentials in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare makes any crisis more manageable which means having basic essentials on hand such as food, medicine, cleaning supplies and yes, even toilet paper. However, being prepared does not mean stockpiling or hoarding and people should limit purchases that allow for sufficient quantities of household items. The DoD recommends two weeks’ worth of supplies and thirty days for prescription medicine.  Here is a comprehensive list of household items to consider buying during this pandemic.

    Coronavirus Household Supply List


    Consider a two-week supply of non-perishable food.

    • Canned, cooked or dried food
    • Frozen or canned fruit and vegetables
    • Long-lasting fresh fruit (i.e., apples, oranges, pomegranates, lemons, limes)
    • Jarred tomato sauce
    • Pasta, rice, beans, grains, oats, instant oatmeal
    • Canned or pouch tuna, salmon, chicken or turkey
    • Frozen food
    • Eggs and egg beaters
    • Nut/seed butter
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Trail mix
    • Crackers
    • Beef jerky
    • Hard cheeses that last long
    • MREs
    • Fun/comfort foods e.g. chips, popcorn and other sweets

    Water & Liquids

    • Water
    • Electrolytes e.g. Gatorade, Powerade
    • Pedialyte
    • Powdered milk
    • Pre-made protein or meal-replacement shakes

    Medicine/First Aid/Healthcare Supplies

    • Thermometer (ideally a digital forehead model plus an analog backup)
    • Over-the-counter medicine, including pain-relievers and fever-reducers such as Tylenol and Advil, to help with aches, pains and other flu-like issues, antacids, cough and cold medicines, zinc lozenges, and children’s medicine
    • Prescription Medications (at least a 30 day supply) – During this time many insurance providers and doctors are allowing early prescription refills, 90 day refills and additionally flexibility. Check with your insurer for assistance.
    • Vitamins, Vitamin D is specifically recommended by many Drs.
    • First aid kit
    • Glasses, contact, hearing aid supplies

    Cleaning/Sanitary Supplies

    • Hand sanitizer/wipes (see DIY Hand Sanitizer)
    • Disinfecting foam
    • Disinfecting cleaner
    • Soap
    • Bleach

    Note: Not all disinfectants and hand sanitizers kill the coronavirus. The CDC and EPA have an approved list: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) fighting cleaning and disinfection products. The CDC recommends “for disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.” Typically these disinfectants will have language that states the product kills 99.9% of bacteria and is an EPA-registered bactericidal, virucidal, fungicidal and tuberculocidal disinfectant. Effective against difficult to kill microorganisms including MRSA, VRE and Tuberculosis.

    General Supplies

    Make sure you have two weeks supply of all toiletries such as toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, shampoo, soap, razors etc.

    • Tools and emergency supplies
    • Feminine hygiene products
    • Flashlights, headlamps, candles
    • Matches, backup fire starters
    • Batteries (rechargeable and disposable)
    • Generator (if possible), solar chargers
    • Hand-crankable or battery-powered radio
    • Cellphone battery chargers
    • Manual can opener
    • Protective eyewear
    • Home Fitness Equipment (keeping fit is a key to staying healthy)
    • LifeStraw (removes bacteria, parasites and microplastics from water)

    Children/Baby Supplies

    • Infant formula
    • Diapers
    • Baby wipes


    • Pet Food
    • Medications


    • Cash for one week and in small denominations
    • Important identification and financial, medical, property, insurance, and other legal documents
    • Games, crafts, books, puzzles, cards to entertain the kids (and adults)
    • Self-defense: depends on personal views, may include body armor, firearms, etc.

    What Should not be Purchased

    Face masks. There is a shortage of face masks for healthcare workers and patients which creates an even greater health risk to communities. Unless there is an abundance of supply these should not be purchased.

    Additional items essential to include in your kit for those stationed abroad

    • Passports
    • International driver’s license
    • Birth abroad certificate for children born overseas
    • Cash in local currency and in small denominations
    • Card with local translations of basic terms
    • Electrical current converter

    Important Matters to Consider

    • Keep your family’s information up-to-date with DEERS, employers, schools, insurance providers etc. including emergency contacts, addresses and phone numbers.
    • Last will and testament or living trust: Create or review your last will and testament or living trust.
    • Beneficiary designations: Check the beneficiary designations of your IRA/401k/annuities and life insurance to make sure you have the correct beneficiaries named upon your death. Remember that your will or trust generally does not control all of your assets.
    • Advance Directive: Have an advanced directive which is a written document created by a competent adult expressing instructions for future health care in the event the individual becomes incompetent or unable to communicate, or loses decision-making abilities.
    • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
    • Flu Shot: If you or any family members have not gotten a flu shot and you’re still healthy, go get one. The flu shot does not prevent people from contracting COVID-19, but since symptoms are similar, by not getting the flu you’ve reduced the interim confusion of having the flu or coronavirus.

    For local hazards and more information to prepare yourself/your family, contact your local Emergency Management office.

    Written by Team