NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Employers across the Metroplex are asking workers to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, as the government urges people to avoid social contact,

Many Americans are now faced with stocking their homes in preparation for what could be weeks of self-quarantine.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security advises the public to store a two-week supply of food and water if preparing for a pandemic.

To avoid buying too much, experts suggest taking inventory of the items you already have on hand.

“Keep your eye on what’s going on in your pantry or medicine cabinet, and then what’s going on in your community,” said Dr. Cheryl Vera-Burkhalter, a family physician with Methodist Health System in Dallas.

Vera-Burkhalter urged people to make sure they have a month’s supply of prescription medications.

That includes over-the-counter remedies to fight minor illnesses and ailments, in addition to medications that patients may take on a daily basis, including Aspirin, allergy pills or pain relievers.

The American Red Cross also recommends people should store a month’s supply of prescription medications.

Vera-Burkhalter recommends buying non-perishable foods with a long “shelf life,” such as beans, trail mix and soup.

For healthier alternatives, she points to frozen vegetables and fruits, which can last for weeks.

Already stocked up on canned goods, some shoppers said they are purchasing fresh foods that are still available.

Ron Clark went to Target in Uptown on Friday afternoon to purchase meat, fish, greens and potatoes.

“Dinner food,” Clark said. “That’s what I think is most important if you don’t want to go out a lot.”

At stores across the region this week, customers have found dwindling supplies of toilet paper and disinfectant wipes.

“Everything is gone,” said Bill Marrin, who went shopping for his family on Friday afternoon.

But in reality, many foods and paper goods are still in stock at various stores.

To keep it that way, Vera-Burkhalter said consumers should resist panicking. Instead, she advised doubling a family’s normal grocery list for the week.

“I would try not to hoard things because that leaves more people vulnerable to shortage,” she said. “I don’t think you’ll need 40 rolls of toilet paper in two weeks. Look at your habits, look at how many people are in your household.”

Consumers should also store at least a two-week supply of pet food, baby diapers, feminine hygiene products, or other items they may might anticipate using regularly.

If disinfectant wipes are unavailable, Vera-Burkhalter suggested cleaning surfaces with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol or a diluted bleach solution.

She said people should prioritize washing their hands with soap and warm water.

The CDC released a suggested list of personal-need items people can prepare in case of an emergency: