What did covid-19 expose as a weakness in your preps?

No prep is ever done or perfect. So whenever something bad happens I try to learn from it as a real-world stress test.

What did the last few months with covid make you realize was a weakness in your preps?

My husband and I already had the important supplies on hand like respirators and food. But the biggest “d’oh!” moment for us was that we didn’t have some of our food supplies labeled with purchase dates to know which food should be eaten first. It probably won’t matter, but if we needed to survive on what we have for a long time, it would be nice to know what will spoil first. We solved this by putting a Sharpie marker on a string by our food shelf and will write the year on everything we buy.

We also did not have enough gloves. We had a box of 100, but two people can run through those pretty quickly when using a pair or two every day over months.

If you could go back in time before COVID, what would you change about your preps?


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  • Comments (21)

    • 7

      Hair Clippers (not urgent but helpful and it didn’t dawn on me until most were sold out).  Or even having general purposes “scissors” in a go-bag (I had/have medical sheers which might work but decent scissors don’t take up too much space and seem more appropriate than a knife for some tasks).

      I had previously bought travel size liquid bottle/containers, originally for having water to flush wounds for a first aide kit but they work great for holding hand sanitizer/refilling from larger bottles.  Just having some unallocated “spares” to repurpose on demand was a pleasant lesson-learned (less of a “would change” more a “happy accident”).

      • 4

        I was disappointed when I tried to refill a smaller sanitizer container and the size of the hole made it impossible. Good idea with the travel size ones!

    • 2

      My partner lost her job because of the lockdown and we got caught without much of a savings account. We had just paid off the credit cards from some big holiday spending and a holiday trip. We stupidly bought those things by planning to dip into savings.

    • 3

      My biggest regrets have been not getting my shop wired for electricity and not planting trees three years ago when we moved in. Also not cycling my chickens out sooner. Most everything else I already had or was able to get easily enough. I’ve had a set of Wahl hair clippers for years because I cut my own hair anyway.

      • 3

        What does “Also not cycling my chickens out sooner” mean?

      • 3

        Hens stop laying after a few years. Mine are nearly three years old and aren’t laying much now. We only get maybe six eggs a week. I bought some new chicks a couple of months ago but they won’t be laying until the fall. If I’d bought them last fall I’d be good on eggs now.

    • 3

      definitely did not have enough food in our house. too used to going to the market every sunday

    • 7

      Lack of variety in food storage: most of my food preps were the emergency bucket types (Augason Farms, Emergency Essentials, etc). NYC apartment, so I never had a chest freezer: fixed that recently and, with a vacuum sealer, am looking forward to better, more varied reserves.

      Logistically, I realized I needed more nuance with BOBs. In thinking about an “oh shit they’re locking down NYC a la Wuhan” scenario, I needed more than just the BOBs. I created a secondary level of prepped gear, which basically just encompassed more robust camping kit than the BOB setups as well as more food. BOBs are what I grab if we are only making one trip out the door; this is what I take if I can make a second trip.

      Wish I would have listened to that voice in my head 18 months ago and apply for a handgun or rifle/shotgun permit. It’s a nightmare in NYC (and, for the record, I’m glad it is). But yeah, huge oversight.

    • 3

      I regret not having some home defense stuff ready. The boogaloo aint happening yet but I was nervous when the police started saying they wont answer most calls. Now you cant find anything. I cant even find 9mm ammo.

    • 6

      I typically just wipe down doorknobs and light switches and stuff with a microfiber cloth.  The only disinfecting product I had approved for COVID was a half a bottle of Lysol Bathtub cleaner.  I used it to clean the surfaces when we started lockdown, and all I’ve been able to find since is another bottle of the same stuff.  I stocked up on food about a week before everyone started freaking out here, but I never thought of household cleaning supplies.

      Overall we’ve been very comfortable moving into quarantine and haven’t wanted for much.  I do need to reconsider my duct tape supply though.  My 5 year old has gone through 1.5 rolls building a cardboard fort in the living room.

      • 2

        Did your kiddo call it their bug out location? 😂

    • 7

      An extra freezer would have been helpful. They were one of the first items to be sold out here. A better electricity back up system as well as we already had 3 (short) power fails. Now we have only two 80W solar panels and a 100ah AMG battery with a 250V inverter which only charges small devices and batteries, especially as we live in a cold (cloudy) area.

    • 3

      I didn’t buy yeast, so the Feast of Unleavened Bread went on for about 2 months…

      • 1

        Maybe too late to help you, but I bought the book Tartine Bread to solve that problem.  It has good instructions for making your own sourdough starter, just from flour and water (no grapes, etc. required).  I have in my head a list of ‘Cookbooks of the Apocalypse’ (books that work well for shelter-in-place cooking) and Tartine Bread is definitely on the list.  I can’t say my sourdough always comes out pretty, but it’s always tasty.

    • 3

      Wish I had bought a lot more N95 respirator masks and a chest freezer last year when they were:  A) available and, B) available at reasonable prices!


    • 5

      Simply put, it exposed a psychological weakness more than anything. I could have had all the gear in the world, it wouldn’t have mattered as I wasn’t willing to wear a respirator long before other people started to panic and wear masks, nor was I too happy about risking confrontation with my remote working-averse workplace to work from home full time.

      As I work in a major metropolis and am fully dependent on crowded public transportation for my daily commute, I think not catching the coronavirus was a matter of luck more than caution. The actions I took that mattered the most were probably taken too late.

      It is an aspect of prepping that isn’t discussed very often and that is vital in a scenario like a pandemic, where staying one step ahead is a matter of public behavior as much if not more as a matter of equipment.

      • 5

        Big kudos on the self-aware learning. It takes courage to do things “the crowd” doesn’t. Something that many people tell themselves to work on this over time — which is the only real way to improve yourself in this manner — is that “if I don’t feel a little uncomfortable about something, then I probably waited too long.”

        Another thing I was telling myself in February: “Someone might think it’s silly I’m wearing a mask, but if I get sick, are they going to take care of me, do my work, or pay my bills? Nope. So F what they think.”

    • 2

      Discovered I had a “Get out of Dodge” streak – most of our preparation was “grab and go” to get out of the metro area and ride out a disaster.

      However… Yeah, staying put for an extended period was pretty much the opposite of that!

      So I was playing catch-up, even if I was slightly ahead of the general curve.

      The “be ready” mindset was good, though!

    • 2

      Some areas of improvement that I needed to make:

      • Getting a freezer so that we could stock up on frozen foods.
      • I need to keep better track of best buy dates, as some key supplies were well beyond their dates.
      • I wasn’t properly planning for some key pandemic supplies.  While I did get sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer and nitrile gloves, I could have done a better job with masks (the non-valve kind), disinfecting wipes, bleach, and some medical suppliers (zinc lozenges, cold remedies, and an oximeter).

      One of the bigger shortcomings is not knowing our consumption rates for various supplies, especially paper products.  I’ve been keeping a weekly record of usage of toilet paper, paper towel, and tissues.  Very eye opening…

    • 2

      A few months into this mess, my biggest regret is buying a Glock 19 (9mm) instead of a Glock 23 (.40 S&W). My rationale was that since the 19 is so popular, ammo, parts, and support would always be easy to get, and 9mm was significantly cheaper. Unfortunately, since everyone and their mother owns a Glock 19, 9mm ammo now costs more than .40 S&W with all the panic buying.

      What I could have done instead of dropping $600 on the Glock 19 (after tax) was buy a police trade-in Glock 23 (since a lot of cops traded for Glock 19s after the FBI switched) for $350, bought conversion barrels for 9mm and .357 SIG, and it’d been about the same price and I’d be able to shoot more calibers. I considered it at the time and I’m kind of kicking myself for not doing that instead.

      The takeaway? Flexibility is key.

    • 3

      Responding to the OP regrets about nitrile gloves: You can make a box of 100 last a long time if you reuse them. When you take off a pair, turn them inside out and save them in a paper bag. Periodically let a batch of used gloves sit for a week or two in the paper bag and in that time any virus on them will have died and they can be reused. Just make sure you save them in a warm, dry place so they dry out.

      Gently blowing into the glove will flip the fingertips right-side-out and make them easier to re-don. Reusing gloves in this way can also largely obviate the need for hand sanitizer.