Thursday, 5 March 2020

Preparing for COVID-19, Isolation and School Closures

I'm in the UK and we currently have less than 500 cases so I don't think we are at the stage of needing to be ready for isolation but I do think it wouldn't harm to start preparing "just in case" and to have a plan. 

At the moment I don't think we really need to go further than picking up an extra pack of toilet rolls or a few tins of fruit with our regular weekly shop, from now, each week just grab two or three additional items that have really long dates on them and stick them in a box at the back of your cupboard -  put a reminder in your calendar for the item with the shortest date so you can use (or freeze) that item without creating any waste. 

Emma in Bromley - Isolation, School Closures and COVID-19


If you are not already doing so, take a multi-vit and consider a probiotic too. Have a look at your general health and see if there's anything you can do to try and optimise it.

Air your house every day - even if it's just to have the bedroom windows open for 5 mins. 

Have a couple of house plants dotted about - its surprising how much they can clean the air and brighten your mood!

Obviously continue practicing good hygiene, hand washing, sanitiser etc but also consider wearing washable gloves (like the magic stretch ones) and being more aware of what you touch out in public - do you really need to hold onto the handrail on the escalator? etc. 

The best way to prepare is a slow and steady approach - If you go all out and panic buy enough  provisions for your whole family to last for a few weeks in home isolation then 
1. its going to cost a small fortune, 
2. You might find yourself with a lot of unused waste, things being forgotten about and going off, too full a freezer or just too many tins of baked beens which in a life or death situation would be fine but for normal every day life - beans are the last thing you fancy. 
3. It's too early to tell if you are going to find yourself in a home isolation situation and as things stand right now, its actually highly unlikely - but as parents, we can't help be be prepared -its also a real possibility that schools could close as a measure to delay the spread. 

Can you work from home?
If you work for a company that can potentially allow you to work from home if we do find ourselves in a pandemic situation - now is a good time to check systems are in place - if you can remotely log on to your work system from home - check you can do it now, take ten mins to have a physical dry run -  it will give you enough time to have the IT department correct any remote access issues. You don't want to find yourself in an emergency situation, working from home in isolation and you can't even log on to the server. 

Build a stock pile
Start to slowly stock your freezer and cupboards - you only need to be buying 2 or 3 "emergency rations" a week at this time. Its about a careful balance so you are not unnecessarily spending too much money on things you might not even need but at the same time, you don't want to find yourself in a situation where the poop hits the fan and your standing in the middle of an empty supermarket wrestling for the last tin of soup (Or worse, Fish Paste)  risking exposing yourself to infection. 

Supplies to start growing

Food Cupboard:
Tinned Fruit.
Tinned vegetables.
Tinned Tomatoes.
Tinned beans and lentils.
Long Life Fruit Juice
Long Life Oat Milk
Olive Oil
Crackers
Breakfast Cereal
Pasta
Rice
Noodles
Sauces, Nandos, Yo Sushi, Thai Taste, Passata, enchilada kits, pasta sauce etc  - Look for long expiry dates.
Tofu - Silken tofu is often found on supermarket shelves with a long life 
Biscuits
Crisps
Chocolate (you will need treats)
Part Baked Bread rolls 
Squash

Japanese Matcha Tea - naturally helps your body fight infections. 

Water - I know we have good mains drinking water in the UK but I'd have a few bottles just incase there is an unlikely disruption to supply. 

Freezer:
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables - There are so many available, choose ones your family will eat and that can make simple foods such as casseroles, soup, fruit crumbles, smoothies etc. If you can, get some frozen pineapple - it's great for helping to fight coughs and sore throats. 
Chips - I mean, you can't ever have enough!
Bakery Items - Crumpets, Bagels, Part Baked Bread Rolls, Pitta and wraps all freeze well. 
Treats - If you are in isolation, especially with small children - Ice creams and Ice Lollies will be your life line. 
Herbs, Spices and Sliced Lemons - things like garlic, ginger, Thai spices etc freeze well and can make dull store cupboard food super tasty - not to mention things like garlic and ginger and lemons are great for fighting infections. 
Favourite meals - put some of your family's favourites in there such as a couple of pizzas or things for a roast dinner so that if you find yourself indoors for a long time you have a special treat to cheer everyone up / celebrate an untimely birthday etc. 
If you have meat eaters in your home, things like Prawns, sausages and chicken fillets freeze well and are easy to use with you store cupboard items. You can also freeze cows milk - go for a filtered kind such as cravendale - it still retains its freshness once thawed. 
Alternative proteins such as soy mince, chicken style pieces and veggie sausages

Household:
Paracetamol
Calpol
Toilet Rolls
Toothpaste
Handwash
Batteries
Check your first aid kit and general medicine cupboard.
Keep an eye on your prescription medicines and contact lenses etc. As things are now, its unnecessary to have lots of extras in your cupboard but if things with this virus start to escalate you don't want to be caught short. 
Laundry products. 
Household cleaning products - I'd go for an anti bac surface spray and washable cleaning cloths. 
Rubber Gloves
Bin liners.

Grow Your Own 
Have a few edible plants around the house, herbs such as basil and rosemary are easy to care for and great to add to meals where you can't always use fresh ingredients. 
Try growing a small strawberry plant in a jam jar or some living lettuce / rocket leaves - at the very least, children enjoy growing something they can eat - at the most - you'll have some fresh produce to nibble on if we all end up house bound.

Something Special:
Have a few new small things tucked away to tackle boredom such as a board game, movie, craft kit, new colouring pens or a lego set. If we don't find ourselves in isolation, then at least you have already prepared your Christmas Eve box!

Home School:
We've already seen a few school closures happening to help delay the spread of COVID-19 so it only makes sense to make sure you have a few educational resources at hand - ask your teachers which topics are coming up and grab a few non-fiction books and worksheets. You might find yourself teaching fractions in a cabin fever situation!

It's really hard to prepare when we don't really know what we are preparing for!

Look for the clues
Are there a few cases close to you?
What events are being postponed?
Any lockdowns happening?
Any schools nearby or in the neighbouring county closing?
Are any GP surgery's near you closing?
Has a decision been made to close your nearest tourist attraction?
Is your local hospital rescheduling procedures. 
Whats happening in Ireland, France and other countries close to us. 


If these start to happen close to you, it might be time to increase the amount you are stockpiling so that you have enough for a 3 week home isolation or reduce the need to go out in public places as often as usual... or at the very least you will be ready for the easter holidays! 

If I was to guess, at this point, I'd say its likely that the 2 week easter school break might be extended to 3 weeks and we might stay in more to avoid busy places. 

Lockdown
Italy now has areas in Lockdown ... its easy for our imaginations to picture this as a situation where you are imprisoned in your own homes and fighting for food but the reality is actually far from that ... you are contained to your lockdown area, meaning you are still free to leave your home and go about daily life, walk the dog, and supermarkets are still getting deliveries, there are no true shortages - just delays to deliveries and shelf stacking because panic and bulk buying creates the illusion of a shortage - imagine each customer who usually buys one packet of toilet rolls is now buying 6 packets on each visit.


Emma x