Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
Back when the New Year rolled around, did you ever expect you’d spend months in lockdown, unable to go eat at a restaurant or visit with friends? 2020 has been full of surprises, but more of the “angry clown with a chainsaw” variety than “here, have some flowers.”
As the time for this lockdown to end draws near, spend some time reflecting on what you learned about preparedness and what you need to do before the next lockdown rolls around. (It’s almost inevitable there’ll be a next lockdown – more on that in a moment.)
There will probably be another wave of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 virus is not just going to vanish magically after we’ve stayed in our homes for a certain number of days. The virus will still be out there when the lockdown is over and people will still get sick from it.
At some point, the dreaded “second wave” will occur. Some experts think this will occur almost immediately after lockdown ends, while others believe there’s a seasonal link and it will strike in the fall. To be perfectly honest, at this point it’s too soon to know. There are a few muffled reports out of China about a possible second wave, but accurate information from China has been impossible to get since the very beginning.
We also don’t know whether the virus confers lasting immunity to those who have had it – some reports suggest there is no immunity while other reports say antibodies in the plasma of those who had it can help treat others fighting the illness.
We have no real data on this and no point of accurate comparison. We don’t know if the second wave will be worse than the first, or milder, or affect fewer people. But just consider it extremely likely that it will happen in some way or another, at some point or another.
When the second wave starts, expect another period of lockdown.
As I mentioned above, there are reports out of China about a previously unaffected city of 10 million people, Harbin, which has just been locked down in the past two weeks. We’re likely to see the effects of opening up several states here in the US over the next couple of weeks – either for better or worse.
If it turns out to be seasonal, the second wave would be most likely to begin in October. And now, health specialists know what to look for so it’s likely the re-emergence will be identified fairly quickly and lockdowns could occur by November.
Whenever a surge occurs, whether it’s next month or next fall, expect another round of lockdowns. Several experts have said we could be looking at periods of lockdown “until there’s a vaccine.”
In his wildly popular March 19 article in Medium, “Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance,” Tomas Pueyo correctly predicted the national lockdown, which he called the hammer, and said it would lead to a new phase, which he called the dance, in which essential parts of the economy could reopen, including some schools and some factories with skeleton crews.
Every epidemiological model envisions something like the dance. Each assumes the virus will blossom every time too many hosts emerge and force another lockdown. Then the cycle repeats. On the models, the curves of rising and falling deaths resemble a row of shark teeth.
Surges are inevitable, the models predict, even when stadiums, churches, theaters, bars and restaurants remain closed, all travelers from abroad are quarantined for 14 days, and domestic travel is tightly restricted to prevent high-intensity areas from reinfecting low-intensity ones.
The tighter the restrictions, experts say, the fewer the deaths and the longer the periods between lockdowns. Most models assume states will eventually do widespread temperature checks, rapid testing and contact tracing, as is routine in Asia. (source)
It’s just like the things mentioned above, however – we’re basing this on models and educated guesses, but we don’t know for sure what will happen or when it will happen. But we’re pretty sure something will happen.
So what you need to do is get ready for it. You’ll have an advantage next time around. This won’t be your first rodeo and you are of a preparedness mindset, so you will use what you’ve learned.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
It’s easy to play quarterback after the game is done, but this exercise isn’t about beating yourself up. It’s about learning from your experience.
- Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
- What food did you run out of the fastest?
- Were there non-food supplies you didn’t think to buy?
- Was there anything that broke and you didn’t have the necessary tools or supplies to repair it?
- About what item did you think, “Dang, I wish I had XXXXXX?”
- Were there people who hunkered down with you who made things difficult or unpleasant? How can you make it better with those folks in the future? And will you even want them to come over next time?
- Are there things you could have prepared to keep your kids or other family members more content?
Ask yourself these questions while you’ve got some time to sit and contemplate the lockdown. The things you wish you’d done differently are going to be very important things to address for the future.
What are the things you were satisfied with?
Luckily, we all probably had more successes than failures in this lockdown, so think about the successes. Here are a few examples of some things that may have worked well for you.
- You had enough in your emergency fund to cover any shortfalls.
- You were able to make tasty, nutritious, and filling meals from your supplies.
- You didn’t need to leave the house for X amount of time for groceries.
- You and your family bonded and enjoyed spending this time together.
- You discovered your group worked really well together.
- You did something productive with your time at home.
So for you, what were the things that worked and how can you replicate those things in the future?
Make some notes.
Go over the two lists you’ve made and start a third list of the things you either need to buy or need to do before the next time there’s a lockdown. Using the examples above:
- Get more ingredients for favorite meals.
- Restock your pantry so you can hunker down for a couple of months.
- Get a larger quantity of the things you ran out of first.
- Get any needed tools and repair materials.
- Grab multiples of the things you may have forgotten like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, etc.
- Get some things to stash away for future entertainment purposes.
- Figure out how to extricate yourself from partnerships that didn’t work.
- For partnerships that did work, make sure they’re on the same page for next time around.
- Do an inventory of supplies so you can replenish the things you used.
This is something that will take longer than 15-20 minutes at the kitchen table. Really spend some time being thorough with regard to this self-analysis.
Look at your budget.
Millions of Americans saw dramatic changes in their incomes over the past months. This is an important factor in future preparations.
If you’re just barely managing to pay your bills, you may have difficulty stocking up for Round 2. If this is the case, you’ll need to take a close look at your budget.
- Be sure to take advantage of whatever the government is offering in the way of financial assistance. (Get more information on that right here.)
- Talk to your creditors and see if they’ll work with you.
- Try a month of flat-broke eating. to put aside some cash for stockpiling.
- Add just a few extra things per week. You might not want to bother waiting for sales – a lot of companies are not planning on doing promotions any time soon.
- Don’t spend frivolously. I know it feels like we’re just about to get out of prison, but if you go and spend hundreds of dollars eating at restaurants, you’re really going to regret it when the next lockdown rolls around and you don’t have enough supplies.
- See if there are any fixed expenses you can cut.
This is the time to reduce your output as much as possible so you can replenish your home for the future.
What should you get for the second wave?
Aside from the things you’ve determined above that you need, there are some other things you may want to get for the second wave of lockdowns. Think about the things that ran out first and the things that had purchase limits. when you see them back on shelves, do some stocking up:
- Toilet paper (the gold bars of the coronavirus pandemic!)
- Paper towels
- Lysol wipes
- Paper plates
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfectant cleaners
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Canned goods
- Dry foods like pasta and rice
- Cough medicine
- Cold and flu medicine
- Vitamin C
If you store them properly, all of these items will serve you well in the future even if this article is totally wrong and there is never another lockdown. They’ll help you to be ready for all manner of emergencies, not just mandated self-quarantines.
When should you start getting supplies for the second wave?
Think back to when the outbreak began to come to the public eye. It only took two days for the shelves to become nearly bare. Here are some pictures as a reminder. It would be pretty foolish to wait until the rest of the country becomes aware and there’s another run on things, leaving the media to scold preppers for hoarding.
Of course, it’s not preppers doing the “hoarding.” We already got our stuff weeks, months, or even years ago.
So my advice is to start replenishing your supplies immediately. Take a look at your lists and begin fulfilling them as soon as you can.
You don’t have to buy these things all at once. But as you see them re-emerging on store shelves, grab a couple of items and put them back. Do this every time you are out. If money isn’t tight, buy one of everything on your list that you might reasonably need when you’re out.
Mentally preparing for the second wave
Something that is potentially even more important than your physical preparations is the mental ones.
Did you find yourself reeling in shock that it happened? Were you depressed or anxious? Lonely or isolated? Understand first that all those feelings are completely normal during a time period of dramatic change. You’re human and you’re allowed to have feelings. When there’s so much uncertainty, it can be difficult to prepare for the future. It’s the ability to move past these feelings and still accomplish the things that need to be done that is important.
Think also about the personalities you encountered within your group. Obviously, you’re not going to kick your bratty teen out of the house the next time there’s a quarantine but the involvement of certain people is optional. Some folks really surprise us (unpleasantly) with the way they behave under pressure.
If you got together with your preparedness group to hunker down, you may have identified some personality conflicts. It’s up to you to decide whether those personality conflicts are worth working through or if you should sit this next wave out with only your immediate family.
Other things you may want to do before the next lockdown
The following items are miscellaneous tasks you may want to undertake. Most of them will be effective not only in a lockdown scenario but also during other types of emergencies.
You may have also noticed things in your outer circle that were unsettling. I wrote more about the different kinds of people you may have encountered – friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. – during the lockdown. You should take some of the time you have between now and the next lockdown to assess these folks a little bit more closely. Pay strict attention to the things they say and do once this is over. Do they “joke” about coming to your place? Are they spending frivolously? Did they learn a lesson and decide to get better prepared? This will tell you a lot about them and let you know if you need to begin quietly distancing yourself from them.
If you weren’t happy with where you took shelter during this period of lockdown, examine the reasons why. We are in an apartment that shares ventilation with the neighbors. (It’s an old house turned into a duplex.) That was okay for us because the neighbors were also self-quarantining carefully, but if they moved out and someone else moved in, would it be okay then? We also don’t have a place for a garden here, and there are a few issues that would make the house fairly easy to break into if someone was interested in doing so.
When you examine this, you may need to make a major decision – is it time to relocate? Or you may simply need to make some adjustments to the place where you are like a padlock on the gate, a new fence, security film on the windows, etc. This article has some tips on home security.
If your home needs some repairs, do it while there isn’t an active virus floating around. Our dryer died during the lockdown but we weren’t crazy about the idea of some repair person stomping through the apartment, spreading his germs, and potentially seeing our stockpile of canned goods. If you have an appliance giving its last gasp, this might be a good time to replace it. The better maintained your home is, the less likely it is that you’ll have a repair emergency during the lockdown.
Take the opportunity to get any services performed that were needed before or during the lockdown. If there is a medical procedure you require, go ahead and get it before the next wave. Many patients saw their treatments delayed for months to prevent them from possibly coming into contact with COVID patients. Get everyone a dental exam and get your pets to the vet if necessary. If you need to have your house sprayed or gutters cleaned, get all of that stuff done as soon as you can.
Work toward greater self-reliance. Get those chickens you’ve been thinking about. Plant a garden and set up cold frames to extend your growing season. Get yourself well-positioned for an uncertain future.
Prepare your family
Your family may want to live in a rosy world in which this was a brief, unpleasant interlude and now it’s over. It’s tempting to let them have that happiness, but it’s a mistake not to add at least a small dose of reality. If it has never even crossed their mind that the future could hold more lockdowns, it’s going to be a stunning blow when (or if) it happens again.
You also don’t want to meet pushback when you try to replenish supplies. Consider reminding them, “Remember the toilet paper apocalypse? We don’t want to run into that problem again!” or “Weren’t you happy we had this when we were stuck at home?”
If you see the situation is beginning to look like you might be facing another lockdown soon, casually mention it to family members. Don’t terrify them but begin gently making them aware that the situation could change quickly.
On the other hand, you may find that family members who previously thought you were a little bit nuts are now far more on board with preparedness. This might be a great time to start teaching them more.
What are you expecting?
Do you expect to see a second wave of COVID-19? Do you think it will happen soon after the lockdown is lifted or in the fall? How are you preparing? Are you making any changes? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Daisy Luther writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.