PANIC VS PREPARATION: OBSERVATIONS MADE AT THE GROCERY STORE
Today, like most Thursdays, I attempted to do my grocery shopping. Ninety-five percent of our groceries come from discount grocery chain Aldi. The other five percent that isn’t available or satisfactory from Aldi I get at Walmart. I attempted to purchase items from the Walmart portion of the list today and was shocked. What I saw (or rather didn’t see) made me think about the concept of panic vs preparation; I see a major difference between sufficient preparation for an emergency and all-out panicking and buying a year’s supply of everything. Here are my thoughts and observations on the matter.
First I want to emphasize that I am not a health care provider and this is in no way to be considered medical advice. That being said, on with the post.
SOME DEGREE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IS ESSENTIAL
Recent events with the current outbreak prompted a conversation with my husband. We’ve talked about getting an emergency kit together but haven’t done it yet. This would be the preparation end of panic vs preparation. This need was further emphasized by the recent tornado in Nashville.
According to ready.gov, the typical home emergency kit should include
- three days worth of water – one gallon a day for drinking and sanitation per person
- a three day supply of non-perishable food
- battery-powered or hand-crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- first aid kit
- extra batteries
- whistle to signal for help
- dust mask that filters contaminated air
- moist towelettes, garbage bags, and ties for sanitation
- wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- manual can food opener
- local maps
- cell phone chargers and backup battery
Again, you can download the supply list and check out their additional supply suggestions at ready.gov. Additional items for those with medical/health needs are included in the additional items list. There are also helpful suggestions about what to keep on hand at work and in your car. And, I would like to note that a six month supply of toilet paper is not on the list.
I have made a point as of late to buy one or two items on this list each trip to the store. I believe in being prepared, but I also believe in my budget. I’m not going to wreck it sheerly out of panic.
PANIC VS PREPARATION – THE FLIP SIDE
So there’s being prepared, for a general emergency as I stated above, and then there’s panic. Now we’re going to talk about panic. Panic is what I saw signs of all over Walmart even though the shoppers all seemed calm. There is absolutely no hand sanitizer at the Supercenter. Not one bottle in any size or formulation. There also isn’t much hand soap. I realized this just wandering through the store looking for items on my list. Out of curiosity I even asked an associate where the hand sanitizer was since I saw no empty holes where it should be and was told they’re completely out.
My in-laws are retired and recently talked to an associate at their regular pharmacy. Face masks are currently hard to find in our area as well. People are worried. The concern is probably warranted, but panic is not. I don’t believe panic helps anyone. In fact, in this case, panic is hurting people who need to use face masks and hand sanitizers due on a daily basis due to suppressed or low immune systems.
I was shocked that the multivitamin aisle had a lot of empty spots, and not just the Vitamin C and other expected items like Emergen-C. In the grocery section, there was no bread flour to be found. I’m used to not getting my brand of choice, but something is usually in stock. I try to make my own bread on a weekly basis. We have pizza at home every week. Bread flour is best for these uses, yet there was none in stock whatsoever. All throughout the store, there were seemingly random empty spots of sold-out items.
problems arise when people panic
I’m not sure why, but any time snow, or rain, or a virus, or severe storms are predicted people line up at the stores to buy a year’s supply of milk, bread, eggs, and a toilet paper. I exaggerate somewhat, but I’ve seen the empty shelves and heard from friends that toilet paper in our area is already becoming a bit of a hot commodity (thank goodness I bought a pack last week).
People need to realize that when you buy additional perishable goods in case of emergency, chances are ( and thank God) that emergency won’t come. News channels feed the panic and then report product shortages said panic caused. I’ve seen it play out on what little television I’ve seen lately and it really disturbs me.
Take a deep breath and think before you buy twelve packages each of toilet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels. And really, why in 2020 are we still blowing through paper towels as we do? I stopped buying them, and I really don’t miss them. In fact, there’s a partial roll under the sink for really icky don’t want to throw in the wash messes, and I haven’t touched it in almost a year. I touched on this in 10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money On by the way. I like to think it’s my most popular post ever for a reason.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS DURING THE 2020 CORONA VIRUS OUTBREAK
If you feel scared or panicked about the 2020 coronavirus outbreak please get informed before making any rash decisions. I have family members and friends in the healthcare industry and they tend to think the concern is overblown by the media. If you’re in the US, ignore the news and go straight to the CDC Coronavirus Disease page. It has all the information you need to make informed decisions.
If you are near an affected area or live close to any international airports or large cities where viruses tend to spread more quickly it seems to be advised to have a two week supply of household essentials on hand. My minimalist heart can deal with this quite easily. You don’t need to bankrupt yourself to have two weeks of essentials on hand. If you don’t want to take just my word for it on the matter refer to the CDC link in the above paragraph or check out the below list of linked articles and posts discussing the issue.
Preparing for COVID-19 from A Dime Saved
CDC Emergency Preparedness Recommendations
Is It Hard to Get the Straight Info on Coronavirus from This is Life Mental Health Blog
panic vs preparation: takeaways
Please remember if you’re a mostly healthy individual shopping for a mostly healthy individual household not to go overboard when at the stores. If more people slowed down and got informed before they raided the shelves at the store not only would they save money and spare their budget (not to mention potential food waste from overstocking), they’d help prevent a shortage on products for the people who need them most every day.
I will continue to work on our emergency kit by purchasing a few items every week. My husband was given a hand-crank radio a few weeks ago and we have plenty of flashlights. I started buying water and additional canned food.
My prayers are with those under quarantine, and my hopes are that I am able to finish off my regular grocery list today. It’s a first-world problem, I know, and it makes me truly appreciate what I have. While I always appreciate my family’s health, I truly do now. Please be mindful and save, even be prepared, but do not panic.
I’ll be back Monday with the newsletter for frugal friends and will have a new post up Tuesday. This wasn’t my planned post, but I will get that one out as well. #MinimalistInMarch continues, most recently with a Declutter With Me video on YouTube. Until next time, stay frugal and healthy my friends!