So, here we are. Unless you are lucky enough to live under a rock, on a farm or an isolated rural house, work from home and have a pantry full of food and supplies, you are going to have to be able to deal with the possibility of being told to hunker down in the house and ride this out. No need to panic but pretending it’s not happening is not going to make this Corona Virus go away. They just cancelled the Junos, for the love of Canadian Bacon.

For most people, they still have to go out, they have to go to work, they have to pick up prescriptions, they have important dr’s appointments they have to go do, we get it. But using an “abundance of caution” – you are going to hear that phrase so much you are going to want to punch it in face- and practicing social distancing is really the most sensible thing to do, especially for those of us who live in big cities like Toronto. A useful chart about the effectiveness of social distancing can be here.

It might not mean that fewer people get the virus, at the end of the day, but it does meant that this means that hospitals wouldn’t be swamped and everyone can get the great care they need.

Another term you will hear a ton is “flattening the curve“. This is what happens when the majority of people practice social distancing and every chart from every pandemic or even just a normal flu season shows that in places where people voluntarily stay home as much as possible, stop having friends over, appoint the healthiest person in the house to be the person who goes to the store, picks up drugs and runs vital errands while everyone else sucks it up at home, the number of people who get sick and require hospital care is spread out over time.  Basically, the opposite of what is happening in Italy and what IS happening in places like Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, which are dealing with the outbreak successfully.


Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

Why are you going to see a movie with 200 hundred strangers on a Friday night when you can stay home and rent it on TV? It’s time to bust out those dusty cookbooks and start cooking at home. Learn to love beans and rice and frozen peas and use those spices that you bought the last time you went to Trader Joe with every intention of trying them as some point. Pretend we all live in Denmark and it’s hygge season, make a hot toddy and watch both seasons of Sex Education on Netflix. You’re welcome.

Am I telling you to hoard toilet paper and hand sanitizer like a doomsday prepper? Of course not, I am not an idiot but I am an urban prepper.  Am I suggesting you might want to put some online orders for extra rice, dried beans and legumes, cans of evaporated milk, soup stock, frozen veg and fruit, canned fish, canned tomatoes, boxes of KD and whatever stuff you guys like to eat that is shelf stable? Yeah, that is not a bad idea, just like it’s not a bad idea to do that when a really bad ice storm is coming.




We are Canadian, we know how to do this people.

I used this pandemic as an excuse to clean out my cupboards, freezer and fridge, ditch the three year old package of ground beef that I forgot about in the back of my freezer and the disgusting half full jar of 5 year old pickles taking up precious space in my fridge. I have restocked with new stuff and cleaned everything while I was at it. I really need to do this more often because I am, it appears, a food pack rat.

You don’t need 700009 rolls of toilet paper but do get a few weeks worth. If, God forbid, this turns into an 28 Days Later situation (WHICH IT WILL NOT- I KID, I KID), you can always cut up an old flannel shirt or sheet and make flannel but wipes. Again, this is Canada and every home has at least one plaid, flannel shirt. Think cloth diapers – grab bleach, water and a bucket. If you are rolling in dough, it might be a good time to buy a bidet toilet seat and we can all catch up to the rest of the world when it comes to bathroom hygiene. It won’t come to that, I am just saying because some people are losing their minds.


Photo by Thibault Penin

Instead of getting together with a big group of friends, get a group Skype going, have cocktails and watch a movie together via video chat, play Words With Friends or Charades, download Marco Polo. Pretend it’s 1972 and you guys are all at the cottage wearing velour track suits, trying to have fun before there was an internet – except use the internet this time. If you don’t have Netflix , Amazon PrimeSundance Now, or Hayu, it’s time to sign up! I am not telling you not to go for a walk in the park, take a drive in your car, not to ride your bike to get some fresh air, I am just saying that the Elton John concert can wait and you might want to rethink that cuddle conference.

The most important thing is not to panic. Be sensible and cautious, pay attention to the science and the health officials NOT the politicians, especially in the US because they have lost their damned minds down there. Watch CBC, not CNN.

The bottom line is that most of us will not get all that sick if we get this stupid virus but we all have loved ones who are older, might have underlying health problems and “flattening the curve” SEE – THERE IT IS AGAIN- is the most effective way to make sure our amazing health care system is not overwhelmed and can do it’s job.

Here is my personal urban prepper’s hack list, quantities depend on your storage capacity and need:

the weather is warming up so if you have to go somewhere, get there on your steam if at all possible

Soap. If they are out of hand soap because the idiots have hoarded it, grab some dish soap . Any old soap works just as well and hand washing with soap for 20 seconds, is the best way to kill the virus if you touch it.

Can’t find Clorox wipes? Who can? Buy some squirt bottles, a big ol’ bottle of bleach and make your own diluted bleach spray. It’s what we use in commercial kitchens and it works great! 1 part bleach to 10 parts cold water, make small batches so you can make a fresh batch every couple days, store in the cupboard in a cool, dark place.  First you clean the surface with a cleaning spray and then give it a hit of bleach spray, leaving the spray to dry on the surface.I have been spraying the door knobs to the front door of my fourplex and my apartment door knob for a week and nobody is laughing at me today, so HAH.

Skip the extra ten cases of toilet paper and stock up on paper towel. The most hygienic way to dry your hands is to use a bit of paper towel and its also handy for carrying in your pocket to use for filthy doorknobs when you are out and about.

If you can find 70% to 99% Isopropyl, use that with a makeup wipe, some gauze or even toilet paper to sterilize thermometers (rinse in cool water after you wipe it and let air dry)

Hand sanitizer, of course, but that is becoming more rare than a bow tie wearing, pure white wolf on Bay Street. You can make hand sanitizer in a pinch by mixing Aloe Gel and that Isopropyl with some essential oil for scent if you have it and put that in a little makeup squirt bottle from the dollar store. I am married to McGyver, so this is straight from him as he is our hand sanitizer maker “Basically just sure in the end you have something that is appropriately 60-70% isopropyl alcohol. I made my 75% alcohol, 12.5% Aloe gel, 12.5% glycerin by volume, and few drops of essential oil for scent.” Just do some math and make sure after you mix it up you are still getting that 60%+ alcohol content

Sign up for online delivery through Loblaws, INABUGGY, PenguinPickUP etc and order groceries to be delivered to your parents, your grandparents, friends with small children as well as yourself. Leave a note that you would like your groceries to left outside the door and tip through the app or site.

If you can get somewhere on your own steam by walking, biking, skateboarding or driving your own car, do that. Go for walks at night, when there aren’t lots of people around to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. It’s almost spring and nothing is nicer than a nice evening stroll. If you must take transit, try your best to avoid rush hour. . Don’t grab handles and bars and if you do, pull your sweater down over your hand. Try to sit/stand as far away from other people as possible. Use your forearm on the stair railings, use your elbow to push the button for automatic door opening, use your knuckle to press elevator buttons or use a tissue to grab door handles, press buttons and throw it out imediately. If you do touch stuff, just make sure you you don’t touch your face before you can wash your hands. As soon as you get where you are going:





This pooch might actually be on to something. Bet HE is not touching his face. Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE, YOU ARE NOT A TODDLER. Okay, everyone touches their faces too much and short of wearing a doggy cone of shame, it’s a problem for all of us. Just do your best. Actually, the dog cone of shame is not a bad idea…….

When you get back home, go straight to the sink and wash your hands. If you have to use your hands to turn on the tap in your house, use a paper towel or a kleenex to turn the tap on. You can turn the tap off with your bare hands because you just washed them and they are germ free.

Ahhhhh, you are safe and sound at home, where you are spending way more time than usual but it must your happy place. If you live with other people, everyone should still be washing their hands, cleaning surfaces, keeping the bathroom clean etc. Try to keep a bit of physical distance from each other if you can. We live in a small, downtown apartment but we don’t all squish up on the couch. We give each other some breathing space.

Don’t panic, just practice, get ready for it …. “an abundance of caution” . Practice self care, read, watch funny movies, stay in touch, using technology, with friends and family and try to stay informed while ignoring the hysteria Photo by Lisa Fotios

If you have a dishwasher, use it. Run it every night. Washing them with soapy, hot water works well too but just use the dishwasher if you can, it’s easier and I am lazy.

If you live with someone who is self isolating, that is a whole other set of rules but that is not what we are talking about today. We are just talking about social distancing, some survival tactics and good hygiene practices that, frankly, we should be practicing all the time and if any good comes out of all of this, it will be that we are all a bit less disgusting and maybe next year, fewer people will get the flu as a result. Silver linings people!


Because we are all doing our best to be good global citizens and look out for our neighbours, please add any of your own helpful tips or advice in the comments.