How you can responsibly prepare for an emergency (without hoarding supplies)

Amid coronavirus concerns, officials remind everyone to have a preparedness kit

SAN ANTONIO – News (and rumors) about the novel coronavirus outbreak have many people scrambling to stock up on food and supplies.

Customers have reported long lines at San Antonio grocery and warehouse stores this week, and temporary shortages of items like bottled water, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

But is that necessary?

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There were full carts, long lines and some empty shelves at some San Antonio stores this week as shoppers stocked up on supplies amid concerns about a coronavirus outbreak | Images from KSAT viewers.

Last month, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases warned that if the coronavirus became a pandemic, there could be severe “disruptions to everyday life" and urged U.S. businesses, hospitals and communities to be prepared.

So how can you prepare without panicking?

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For starters, don’t hoard.

Go through your pantry and see what your household might need to get through an emergency — whether that be a natural disaster like a hurricane, flood or fire, a terrorist attack, or, yes, even a coronavirus quarantine.

Officials recommend a three-day supply for most emergency scenarios, but even if local authorities were to issue a quarantine order, it would be unlikely to go beyond 14 days, which is thought to be the longest incubation period for the novel coronavirus illness.

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So while it’s unlikely that you’d need months-long supplies of paper towels and disinfectant wipes, you may want to get a few extra non-perishable food items. Maybe add a few extra items each time you do your regular grocery shopping until you have what you need.

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“Preparedness is key for any disaster,” said Libby Castillo, the regional communications manager for the American Red Cross serving Central and South Texas.

Castillo recommends that people have supplies at home as well as in a go-bag in case you must evacuate. And don’t forget about your medications. Always have a two-week supply of any daily medicines and keep a list of what you take.

“We’re heading into spring storm season and San Antonio and surrounding areas are prone to flooding. That’s something to always be prepared for,” Castillo said.

But, again, Castillo stressed that the key is not to panic.

“Be mindful that there are other people out there, and supplies need to last,” Castillo said. “We’re a community going through this together.”

Here are some resources that can help you prepare for any emergency:
Coronavirus prevention and resources:

About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.