My youngest called today to tell me that she is going to quarantine with her boyfriend for the duration of their city’s COVID-19 lockdown. Her excuse was that his house is larger than her apartment. She doesn’t need an excuse from my perspective. It’s much more fun to be quarantined with someone than to be all alone.
At this point, the whole family is now quarantined. Us by choice, one daughter by her employer’s order, and the other by executive order.
She’s bringing her personal laptop, her work laptop (to work from “home”), a big monitor, and some games. My daughter asked if I had any suggestions as to what to bring. I recommended lots of clothes because the seasons could change. I also suggested she ask him how much room he has in his freezer and brings as much of her frozen food as possible.
Later, after some more thought, I emailed her with some advice. I am publishing it here pretty much verbatim thinking it might help others who are bugging out or simply going to a friend’s house for quarantine or a lock-in period.
I had a few more thoughts about what to do and bring when you quarantine yourself.
First, keep in mind that this stay home order is open ended, so plan for the worst case scenario. You don’t know when you will be back — it could be months. They could shut down the Interstates and block main roads. I would make sure you clean anything that might smell if left unattended for several weeks or months. This would include doing laundry and throwing out anything in the fridge that might spoil. I would also empty all your trashcans, but especially the one in the kitchen. If you have a box of baking soda, you could some down the sink and leave the box open in the fridge to absorb odors.
Second, I would take all your important identity documents, like your social security card and passport. Obviously, bring your health insurance card and any credit/debit cards. Any paperwork you have that would be hard to replace should be scanned and/or brought with you.
Third, you want to stop your mail. You can go online and do this and they will hold it at the post office for you. You could also forward it.
Fourth, assume that someone bored, hungry, or broke will break in and steal stuff from your unattended apartment. If there is anything that is valuable, important to you, or you don’t want stolen or vandalized, consider bringing it with you.
Fifth, I know I mentioned the frozen food, but I would suggest bringing much of the food from your cabinets as well. We have no idea how they will be able to keep the trucks running and the grocery stores open. Stock up on canned food, pasta, rice, beans, chili, soups, etc. when you get there. Things that don’t require refrigeration are best.
Sixth, set your thermostats to minimize your electric bill. (No need to keep things at room temperature if no one is there.) Unplug electronics like TVs, cable boxes and small appliances that burn electricity even when they are switched off. Anything with a glowing LED is consuming electricity from the moment you plug it in. Unplug anything that could short out and cause a fire, like a space heater.
Finally, look back at your last few days at home and think to yourself, what have I used? If you used it and he does not have one, consider bringing it.
Plan for the Worst
It should be obvious from the letter above that I believe:
- We have no idea how long the shutdown/stay home period will last or if it will grow more restrictive, we only know that it’s going to last longer than Trump hopes. In fact, current estimates are that the disease will not peak until mid-April in the United States. More and more governors are jumping on the band wagon as are mayors and county managers.
I’m not even saying the shutdown is wrong — it may well be the best way to stop coronavirus until we have a vaccine. I was originally planning on being in self-imposed quarantine for 14 days, then 30. Now I think it is possible that we’ll be here another couple months or longer.
- We will see more restrictions on our rights. They may call it a state of emergency, but it will be full-blow martial law with curfews and the need to “show your papers” to move about. We’re seeing some of that now, as I alluded to the other day in the post on travel bans, but I expect it will get worse.
- Food may grow scarcer. Right now, people who work in grocery stores, produce food on farms or in factories, and who drive trucks delivering it to warehouses and stores, may be considered the unsung heroes of this epidemic, up there just behind doctors, nurses and other health care personnel. But how many truck drivers have to die from COVID-19 before some of them just stop going to work? How many sick workers does it take to close down a chicken processing plant?
- This is an opportunity for criminals. When people bug out, they leave behind a vacant home that will become an obvious target for burglary, We may also see an increase of home invasions, especially with people who live alone or the elderly. As more police officers get sick and more Sheriff deputies are out there blocking off highways, there will be fewer on the street. And if people get hungry, it could lead to violence, riots, looting and robberies.
Whether you’re quarantining at home, bugging out or moving in, you should be prepared for things to last longer and get worse than you expect. That means stock up, law low, and be prepared to protect yourself and your loved one’s if push comes to shove.