Parents, we need to talk about coronavirus prepping
At the time of writing, coronavirus has reached at least 40 countries around the world. At the time of publication who knows?
As a privileged white male I try not to worry about world events beyond my control, but reading a statement from Nancy Messonnier, the head of immunisation at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in America, really allowed the panic set in.
Messonnier, warned that a coronavirus outbreak could cause a severe disruption to everyday life in America.
"I had a conversation with my family over breakfast this morning," she said, "and I told my children that - while I didn't think they were at risk right now - we as a family, need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives."
The first thing that struck me about Messonnier's statement was the fact that someone with such a busy and important job finds time to actually sit down with their family for breakfast.
Suddenly, I had visions of one of those iconic American sitcoms with one of those perfect American sitcom families sitting down for Froot Loops, sunny side-up eggs, and OJ. Breakfast in my house involves three children frantically squirting yoghurt pouches into their mouths as we race out the door.
Then I thought about how little food we had in the pantry. And so I did what any normal person would do, and drove to the supermarket at midnight to very calmly and efficiently stockpile for the coronavirus apocalypse.
But how much food is enough for a family of five people to cover the two-week quarantine period - and any time after that pending a nuclear holocaust and/or zombie takeover.
It's quite overwhelming how much information is online on this topic, but an article called "Planning A Survival Food Stockpile" on a very reputable doomsday prepper website had all of my rookie knowledge needs covered.
In addition to all the normal stuff like canned beans, canned tuna and hospital-grade disinfectant, they suggested items more for "pleasure than survival", such as corn chips and chocolate, which is good for bartering with the zombies, so I'm told.
Not wanting to alarm anyone in the supermarket, I made sure to mix some fresh fruit and veg in among the cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup and four bean mix (for variety).
$150 and five Stikeez later, my COVID-19 Chrissie hamper is now complete.
My wife and friends thought I had lost my mind, but then came some validation from Associate Professor Ian Mackay from the University of Queensland, who announced this week that a pandemic was inevitable and it wasn't the worst idea to buy "a few extra things". Still, maybe the 36 tins of tinned peaches in syrup was too much.
"What happens if your schools get closed and you're stuck at home with your kids for a while or if people say you can't go to work," Mackay pointed out.
Stuck at home with my kids? For a while? This coronavirus pandemic is far worse than I first thought.
It's funny how little I cared about Y2K, SARS or swine flu. Then again, those things happened before children, when I only had myself to worry about. Now I had three young precious lives on my hands.
I hope they like creamed corn.
Darren Levin is a columnist for RendezView.com.au