What Should You Have in Your Coronavirus Emergency Kit?

Don’t panic, just be prepared. We look at what we really need in our emergency kit to prep for a coronavirus outbreak.
Shelf of canned goods
Photo: Katie Kenny


The news that the state Department of Health suggested creating an emergency kit in case of a COVID-19 outbreak sent people running to stock up on supplies. The DOH’s advisory came with the idea that if coronavirus was reported in Hawai‘i (as of Wednesday, Feb. 26, no cases have been confirmed here) people may have to stay at home to reduce the risk of spreading the virus that has now hit across the globe.


If you already have your hurricane kit in place, you’re all set. The advisory suggested preparing your 14-day supply of food and other necessities. But, since the season ended in November, some of us have already tapped into our supplies and Instagram posts seemed to indicate that, in true incoming-hurricane fashion, bottled water and toilet paper were disappearing from Costco shelves. 


SEE ALSO: To Mask or Not to Mask? We Ask the Experts About the Coronavirus


A post shared by Mahealani Richardson (@maheatv) on


We still found canned goods and water in a very informal survey of Downtown Honolulu stores. But what would you really need? Remember, this situation is about being quarantined—otherwise known as staying home—not dealing with a natural disaster, meaning less destruction and more downtime. The HONOLULU team took a look at the full 29-item disaster supply kit on ready.gov/kit to see which things you should prioritize when getting prepared. 


  • First, in case of a quarantine it is likely that we would still have our basic utilities. The coronavirus won’t knock out electricity and water, so you won’t need additional batteries or cases of bottled water. You should have a 14-day supply of food for everyone in your family, including your pet. Keep in mind, as long as the power is still on you can use your refrigerator and freezer (and stove) so it’s not all Spam all the way. And if you do want to stock up on water, keep in mind that tap water in a sealed container is usually good for six months.

  • Medications for you and everyone in your family. Prescription medication definitely, but you may also want to check your rapidly expiring bottles of acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It might not be a bad idea to also make sure you have a thermometer, in case you have to self-monitor for a fever, which can be a symptom of COVID-19.

  • Hygiene products. If there is a quarantine, forget running out for toothpaste, contact lens solution, diapers, baby wipes or any other toiletries. Make sure you have a good amount of soap, which is the best defense against spreading germs.

  • Prevent what you can. Get a flu shot. If you catch a cold or flu, stay home. Get all your regular check-ups: dentist, eye doctor, so you’re up to date. That way you don’t have to go out later if you or others get sick.

  • Ready.gov lists dust masks as important items. However, this is for scenarios where people are left dealing with debris and dust from ruined buildings. The DOH has emphasized that masks are not effective for preventing people from contracting COVID-19. They help to keep people who are sick from spreading their germs to others. Click here for more.

  • Books, games, puzzles and other activities. It’s the last piece on the list but if you’re stuck at home for weeks some off-screen entertainment may provide a much-needed break.