OPINION: What to get when stockpiling at grocery store

Don’t panic buy, think about what you need and then make the right choices



Think before you buy for a disaster, it can save you money and leave you better prepared.

JACOB HERSH, Evergreen columnist

As COVID-19 spreads across the United States and the world, we’ve seen a massive rise in the stockpiling of emergency preparedness gear.

While some of these runs on supplies may seem a little silly to an outside observer, they stem from the very real desire to be prepared for a national emergency, like the one we’re currently facing.

With that said, here’s a list of gear any responsible citizen should own to get through any crisis safely and comfortably.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends, for any emergency, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. This can include canned goods such as vegetables, meats and starches, or dehydrated goods, like you’d find in a camping supply kit. FEMA also recommends a three-day supply of water consisting of one gallon of water for each person per day, for both drinking and sanitation.

Luis Sousa, an ex-military third year civil engineering student at the University of Porto in Portugal, is an avid emergency preparedness advocate, and recommended some basic supplies.

“I have stocked up on some pharmacy stuff like alcohol, jugs of water, canned food and we bought a good amount of bread and froze some,” Sousa said. “I also have some noodles and some flour and sugar to cook cakes.”

Sousa also said that the proper vitamins are important for any emergency preparedness kit.

“I bought a good amount of fruit so that we don’t go full pirate and get scurvy or something,” Sousa said.

Whatever your taste preference, it’s important to pack enough food for an extended emergency that’s guaranteed to last for a long time.


Gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed in the past month, according to CNN. People have recognized the necessity during a state of emergency for a firearm, both to defend one’s property and loved ones, but also as a source of food, for those who live in a state where wild game is available.

Chris Olin, owner and operator of King’s Arms in Colfax, Washington, said that his store is selling significantly more guns and ammunition than before the corona crisis.

“We’re seeing everyone stockpile up on their 9mm and their .223, 5.56 ammo,” Olin said. “We’re also seeing … a lot of people that want any firearm they can legally own, because everyone’s buying, so the selection has decreased of what they can actually get.”

In terms of what guns to own in the event of an emergency, many opt for a .223 or a 5.56 rifle, a 12 or 20-gauge shotgun and a handgun chambered in 9mm or .38 caliber. It’s up to the individual’s needs and circumstances, but these are often good starter weapons that can perform in a variety of different scenarios, from home defense to hunting for game.

Obviously, owning a gun is a significant responsibility, so it’s the duty of any gun owner to ensure that they know how to safely operate their firearm. Classes are available at any gun range, and many states offer certifications for gun owners who take instructional courses. Proper knowledge of firearm operation and maintenance is just as important as owning the gun in question, so a crucial part of any emergency preparedness kit is knowledge and education on guns and how to use them.

Other Supplies

It’s important to remember other things that’ll benefit you during an emergency. A vehicle with enough gas and proper maintenance will serve anyone well, especially during a natural disaster. Protective gear, like masks and gloves, especially during this viral outbreak, are practically indispensable, especially for healthcare workers. A supply of cash on hand is also important, given that credit cards are reliant on the electric grid, which can fail. Clothes suited to the weather are a must as well. 

Individuals with medical conditions or disabilities may need specific supplies suited to their needs which may be hard to find during a run on stores, so those are also necessities dependent on the circumstances.

Finally, and this is crucial, a positive attitude will do wonders for you, or the collective morale of your group. It’s often easy to feel like things are particularly bleak, when another headline about the coronavirus hits your newsfeed. Just remember that we can all do our part to stop this disease, by staying isolated and supporting healthcare and essential workers. Keep your outlook bright and eventually, we can get through this as a country and as a global community.