How to handle an emergency without hoarding

Posted at 8:17 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 22:17:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Emergency managers are urging people to find a balance when purchasing supplies to prepare for the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Instead of being in a response mode, we are in a prevention mitigation mode. We are trying to reduce the impact before it happens,” said Salt Lake County emergency manager, Clint Mecham. “It’s a matter of keeping in perspective, what we are preparing for.”

Since it is human nature for people to want to make sure their families are taken care of, many are rushing to stores, emptying shelves of food and supplies.

“Utah and its communities have a history of being prepared and being resilient. It’s just in the culture here in the state,” Mecham said. “People understand the message of being prepared. Having some food supply on hand, having basic supplies on hand.”

But stockpiling too much and going overboard, could have a negative impact if others with more urgent needs aren’t able to get any supplies.

“These are our neighbors, these are our friends, these are our family. We are in the same boat, we are in this together,” Mecham said. “Take a breath. Think it through. Slow down. Think, what do I have, what am I really going to need. Be in a position where you’re being prepared, but in a judicious and calm manner, rather than being reactionary.”

Mecham adds, there is still no reason to panic.

“We have only had a few cases here in the state. Nationwide, we are not as bad off as other places,” he said. “The message is be prepared. Be prepared to help your neighbors. Keep an eye on your neighbors. Create that resiliency among our communities.”

The period of time following an emergency or a crisis is often a good time to evaluate the response.

When the coronavirus emergency is over, he urges people to look at how they can be better prepared in the future.

One way to improve includes gradually buying a few extra supplies when things return to normal and store those for the next emergency to reduce the need to rush grocery and big box stores.