How Can I Personally Prepare for COVID-19?

Everyone has a role to play in easing the spread of COVID-19 and lessening its impact on vulnerable populations. You can do your part by ensuring you’re prepared to stay home if you’re asked to or if you get sick.

A big part of being prepared is knowing the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. Use the COVID-19 symptom self-assessment tool to determine if you need further assessment or testing.

Everyone needs access to safe and nutritious food. When grocery shopping, focus on buying the food items you, your family or the families you may be buying for, will need for 1-2 weeks. This will help limit how often you need to grocery shop and make sure you and others have what you need to be healthy.

Food Supply

There is currently no shortage of food in British Columbia. During this time, the Province is taking steps to make sure there remains a steady supply of food where and when you need to buy it. This includes taking a more active role in coordinating food distribution by working with key partners across the supply and distribution chain.

How Often to Shop

Limiting how often you grocery shop (e.g. shopping once per week) is helpful to limit the spread of COVID-19. Grocery pickup and/or delivery is an option at some stores. Delivery is a useful service for people who are not able to leave their homes due to illness or mobility challenges.

How Much to Buy

Buying enough groceries for 1-2 weeks may be helpful to make sure you and/or your family have the food you need in case you must stay home because you get sick or need to self-isolate.

People living in rural and remote communities who are not able to shop regularly may need to buy more to make sure they have enough food to last until their next shopping trip. If this is your situation and you need to buy more than limits allow, talk to the store manager before filling your cart.

Buying far more than you need because you are concerned about shortages (panic buying) can result in other families not getting enough.

Stocking Your Pantry

Adding a few extra canned or packaged items each time you shop can be a helpful way to fill your cupboards over time. This is easier on the supply chain than stockpiling food all at once and helps make sure that others can get what they need as well. This pantry planner (PDF) provides ideas on what may be helpful to include, such as:  

  • Grains, like rice and pasta
  • Canned fruits, vegetables and pasta sauces
  • Protein sources such as canned or dried beans and lentils, canned fish and nut butters
  • Pre-packaged soups, chili and other ready-to-eat meals
  • Pet food (if applicable)

Refill your prescriptions now so you don’t need to visit a pharmacy if you get sick. Consider seeing your health care provider to renew prescriptions ahead of time.

Following the advice of reputable and trusted sources is key. Keep the following list on your phone, in your wallet or on your fridge. Share it with friends.

BC Centre for Disease Control

Provincial Health Services


Government of B.C.

Public Safety Canada

Health Canada

Connect with those around you and agree to help if someone needs support. This means checking in on each other and running errands for essential items. If you end up helping someone, take the following steps to stay healthy and avoid spreading the virus: 

  • Phone ahead and leave requested items at the door.
  • Check in by phone versus visiting in person.
  • If you need to chat face-to-face, don’t touch door handles and keep a distance at the door of at least two metres (six feet).

There is currently no evidence that domestic animals like pets can become sick with COVID-19 or spread the virus to people. Pet owners and veterinarians can find information through the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Caring for Your Pet During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pets can be a healthy part of human self care. They offer companionship and something to nurture during this difficult and socially isolating experience. But there are a few special considerations to keep in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Always practice good hygiene and wash your hands after petting or playing with your pet, and after returning home from a walk or play time
  • When walking your dog, keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and others
  • Avoid handling or petting other people’s pets. Discourage others from handling or petting your pet

Care for Your Pet if You Become Sick

Plan ahead and make arrangements with a neighbour, friend, family member or pet sitting service to help you care for your pet in the short and long term if you become ill.

The BCSPCA is also developing emergency protocols and expanding its foster network to help pet owners impacted by COVID-19.

Preparing Your Pet for Emergencies

Pets are an important part of a family. During any kind of emergency, they’ll be counting on you to help them through. Make sure you include your pets in your emergency plan and remember their needs as you gather supplies.

Create a specific grab-and-go bag for each of your pets with food and medication for at least three days. You may also want to include a leash, a pet carrier or your pet’s favourite toys.

Pet Preparedness Guide (PDF) 


Updated May 20, 2020