Hoarding or practicality?

Let’s get something straight here: preppers have, for years, been ridiculed and mocked simply for being ready for an “event,” such as COVID-19. Or the zombies. Whichever. Now, many of them are being lambasted in the media, social included, for having those same supplies.

Yes, it’s true that some people have grabbed every item on its respective shelf, either out of panic or with plans to re-sell and make a profit. Either of those is wrong, although panic can be forgiven much easier.

I asked, on my personal Facebook page, what people considered “hoarding.” Answers included such things as “having more than you need” and “excess items with no plan.” Seems like regular everyday people aren’t exactly buying into that media hype about the bad, mean, evil douchebag preppers.

COVID-19 happened to coincide with my annual purge/inventory/re-supply schedule. I normally have supplies for a six-month period—some may call that excessive, as I know no one expects this to last that long. Expectations often fail; however, there could well be other supply issues that arise in the aftermath. Or not. No one is psychic, no one really knows.

Another thing no one really knows is “how much” a certain person or family actually needs. I read a column in the Post this morning, and the writer asked “what was your most random purchase recently?” One of the answers was “chocolate chips—but I didn’t buy anything else to make cookies, just the chips.” Well, geez, who doesn’t have butter, flour, sugar, eggs, etc. in her dang kitchen? Really?

My point is that, yes, I have a couple bags of chocolate chips, but they weren’t random. At some point during my six-month period of prepping, I will sure bake cookies or use them for something else. Maybe a cheesecake. I don’t know, but I know I’ll use them.

And what about these other panic buyers? They see “wash your hands a lot” and grab all the soap they can, just in case. But here’s the key: you should KNOW how much you use and KNOW how much you need. For instance, I have three large bottles of hand soap—that is how much we use over six months; and that means ONE of those would last a couple months for two people. Do the math, folks, BEFORE you shop.

Yes, I keep a running list of inventory and at least once a month I physically COUNT everything. Too much trouble? Fine, than risk running out of something that either you can’t go buy or isn’t available.

THAT is the crux of prepping. Not hoarding.

A friend posted a link of pics of crazy shoppers—an entire cart full of milk? Or eggs? WHAT are they going to do with that? Now, I suppose it’s possible that these people were part of a group or very large extended family, and they all took part of the list and went shopping. Maybe. I did see a lady here with an awful lot of toilet paper, but it turns out she was buying for three or four families; sometimes you just have to ask…

And I try to be considerate. Yesterday, in Walmart, there were two large bags of sugar on the shelf—and that was it—and it was on my list. I took one, left the other, and someone snagged it right away. I also ran into a young girl who apparently was there only to buy cheesecake ingredients. Well, okay…I mean, I’m all about cheesecake! She was disappointed that they were out of brown sugar, so I told her she could make her own; similar convo with another lady who had been looking for powdered sugar.

Now, you may not agree with our having a six-month supply, but I guarantee that what we have will be used. And if everyone would plan ahead and take care of themselves and their own families in any emergency situation, the government would be a lot less involved, which means that the situation will be much better managed by the people themselves.

Think of it as being on a plane and putting on your oxygen mask BEFORE helping someone else. This doesn’t mean we’re sitting here for six months, guns at the ready, it means we don’t have to think about shopping during a pandemic or finding the things we need. You might not need or want six months’ worth of anything, or have a place to store it even if you did, but you could certainly plan for one month—and considering the situation right now, that would be a smart move.

Prepping for COVID-19

I read the news, I hear what people all over the world are saying, and yes, I’ve read a few books on the end of the world. Written a few, too. So I’m going to give my thoughts on this whole epidemic.

It’s probably not as bad, or going to get as bad, as some people think, but it’s also not just “a bad flu” or something that washing your hands more than usual is going to fix. You can “what if” yourself into a high(er) blood pressure bracket, or you can prep, or you can blow it off and be caught unprepared. Your choice, of course, but I’d rather be ready and wrong than not.

We’ve been ready for the “whatevers” for eight years now, and in different ways depending on where we’ve lived. For the first three years, we lived in St. Louis County; since then, we’ve been out here in the middle of the woods. It’s a lot harder to avoid people when you’re surrounded by them, and often you don’t think about all those with whom you come into contact on a daily basis.

For instance, early on in our prepping, we saw people at the bookstore, we got food delivery, my husband worked in retail, we ran errands and shopped, and our son went to school. In one day, all of us were exposed to several hundred people who in turn had been exposed to several hundred more and so on…so if you live in an urban or suburban area, this is you, now, with COVID-19 running loose.

Oh, you’re washing your hands more often? Good for you. Too bad everyone isn’t, especially those who think COVID-19 is no big deal. Think long and hard about how many people you come into contact with, and how many those in your household also run into in the course of a day or a week.

Out here, we rarely see anyone unless we go to town for something. But when the nearby Army fort is closing to the public and guard gates are manned by soldiers wearing protective gear, you get a little antsy. Just a little. My neighbors have been sick lately—not COVID-19, but other respiratory issues, which can weaken one’s immune system if they happen to be exposed to something else. And this could be you, too, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Some people talk about a worst-case scenario with a lot of what-ifs and, sure, it could happen. Probably won’t, but my personal opinion is that we’ll know more in the next few weeks. Some people deal with this by assuming they can get things delivered so won’t have to go out and be exposed; that’s great, unless the delivery person is sick or the restaurant worker who handled your food is sick. And even if you don’t get exposed then and there, will there be enough people coming to work to keep the restaurant functioning?

And it’s not just food. Make a list of EVERYTHING you use or eat or drink on a daily basis for two weeks—that’s the minimum, that’s the time you’d be quarantined if you were exposed. Now add things to that list that you might need if you got sick. There’s a lot more than people tend to think about.

Everyone talks about having enough of your prescriptions, but what about OTC meds? Do you have enough Advil (especially if you get sick), antibiotic cream, cortisone cream, lotion, Bandaids, allergy meds, etc.? Toothpaste, shampoo, soap? The ever-memed toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, trash bags? What do you normally eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts? Too many people, especially in urban areas, still have the mindset that they can “run to the store” and pick up something. Maybe you can’t, either because of illness or quarantine or maybe the store ran out. Plan ahead. That’s all this is.

On Facebook this morning, I mentioned that the media refers to preppers as “panicked.” I don’t know any preppers who are panicking—it’s non-preppers who seem to be either worrying, panicking, or blowing off the whole thing. When you’re a prepper, you analyze what you know, determine the worst-case scenario, and plan accordingly. Then you don’t have to worry, and certainly don’t have to panic. And if that worst-case doesn’t happen, well, at the very least you won’t have to buy groceries for a while.

However, as I finished up this blog post, WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. There’s a case being tested in the county next door to me. Many events in large cities are being canceled through April—although others are not. Many colleges are closing campuses and switching to online classes.

At this point, all I can do is double-check my supplies and prepare to hunker down; I have plenty to do on the farm, after all. I’m not particularly afraid of contracting the illness, although I don’t want to share it with my husband. I’m not afraid of running out of food or other things I need, or even some that I want. I’m not afraid of being bored when isolated or quarantined, if it comes to that. But here’s the thing, if everyone limits contact, there’s a lower chance of COVID-19 spreading. Sure, most people have no to mild symptoms, but for others it’s much more serious, and if the hospitals are full of people who need treatment, what happens to those who need treatment or surgery for other random issues that everyone experiences from time-to-time? That’s the big question, really, as to whether this outbreak is serious enough to prepare for almost anything.

The media keeps saying “our lives will change in many ways” but they don’t say how or what:

Imagine being inside, or on your patio even, and going NOWHERE ELSE for at least two weeks, or maybe even two months or more. Do you read? Do you watch movies? How will you keep busy?

Imagine deciding to call for a pizza, and there’s no one open, no pizza, and no delivery drivers available—and any one of the people involved could be infected.

Imagine then deciding to make your own pizza—do you have flour, yeast, salt? Pizza or tomato sauce and a few herbs? Cheese or vegetables or meat to top that pizza?

Imagine that you can rely on no one but yourself. Are you ready for that?

No more going to the movies, or stopping by the library to pick up a book; no more grabbing a beer with friends after work; no more work, perhaps, at least not in the office. So many things we do without thinking.