Panic buying: The unintended impact of wiping shelves ahead of a storm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – No matter how many times we warn people not to panic buy ahead of a storm, we see it nearly every time a tropical system could possibly head our way.

Many might not realize panic buying has a domino effect that causes supply chain issues and higher prices -- and it’s also extremely wasteful.

Buying every single ply of toilet paper or every case of water you can fit in your car essentially hurts others in their quest to prepare.

Regional FEMA administrator Gracia Szczech walked us through the four common items you should never panic buy ahead of a storm:

  • Bread
  • Condensed milk
  • Frozen items
  • Two-way radios

“Preparing starts at home, and we’re our best defense against disasters,” Szczech said. “Have enough food, water and other essentials like medicines on hand.”

A good rule of thumb when buying ahead of a storm is one gallon of water per person, per day.

And for food, go with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items. It’s best to go with something that’s canned and doesn’t need any water.

If others panic buy and supply can’t meet demand, FEMA is prepared.

“We have things, essential needs already in our warehouses,” Szczech said.

But they would rather everyone buy rationally in the first place.