1. Hand soap

Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap provides better protection from the novel coronavirus than hand sanitizers, which might not kill the virus. You may want sanitizers with 60 percent alcohol, though, for when you can't access soap and water.

2. Bathroom tissues

Yes, you will need a two-week supply of toilet paper if you have to self-isolate because you develop flu symptoms. Facial tissues are needed, too: Have them at hand to cough or sneeze into, plus more to limit contact with doorknobs, etc.

3. Nonperishable foods

You won't lose tap water or the use of your freezer and fridge, but stretch your available food supplies by stocking up on healthy nonperishables such as canned tuna, broth, and tomatoes; shelf-stable milk, dried legumes and pasta; and grains. And don't forget your pets.

4. Medications

Stock up on pain relievers and other OTC treatments for flu symptoms. More importantly, request a month's supply of needed prescription medications and consider other pharmacy needs, such as diapers, contact lens supplies, and feminine-care products.

5. Disinfectant

The coronavirus can live for several days on hard surfaces, so make a routine of using a disinfectant to wipe down countertops, faucets, doorknobs, light switches, phones, etc. Lysol on paper towels will work. So does a cloth dampened with a mix of ¼ cup bleach to 2¼ cups water.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, try the magazine for a month here.