Medical Supplies For Preppers
Other than food, water, and shelter, the most important thing you can make sure you have if the SHTF is a well-stocked medicine chest. It’s practically impossible to prepare for every possible medical emergency, but it’s vital to prepare for as many as possible. Trust me, the last thing you want is for a family member to die from some simple ailment like a fever or an infected finger because you failed to stock up on medical supplies.
Think I’m being dramatic? Sepsis is nothing to play around with. Sepsis occurs when an infection spreads into the bloodstream and then into organs. It affects about a million Americans every year, and as many as 30-50% of those people die. And this is in modern America where we have, supposedly, some of the best medical care in the world. Sepsis can start with something as simple as a splinter in your finger or an infected tooth, and without immediate access to antibiotics, nearly everyone affected by it will die.
It’s not easy to build a stock of medical supplies. Many medications expire quite quickly, losing much of their efficacy, and some can even be dangerous to use once they have expired. It can get quite expensive to keep rotating your supplies, but it’s better to do this than to risk a medical emergency you’re not prepared for later.
Also, keep in mind that you should stock medical supplies that your family may not need, as well. Just because your own family doesn’t need a particular medication doesn’t mean it won’t be useful. For example, someone in your family could develop insulin-dependent diabetes after an event, or you may even meet someone who needs insulin desperately and is willing to barter with you to obtain it.
You won’t be able to prepare for every possible medical condition. Cancer… HIV… these are the types of medical conditions that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to treat in a SHTF scenario. But you can certainly prepare for the most common medical conditions.
Antibiotics typically require a prescription, so you can’t generally stock up on too many of them–at least as far as traditional antibiotics go. But what you can stock up on is fish antibiotics. (Yes, they really do work for humans.)
Fish antibiotics are just amoxicillin that is available without a prescription and works just fine to clear up a wide variety of infections in humans. It works for UTIs, oral infections, bronchitis, cellulitis, ear infections, and more. This is one of the most valuable things you can horde, because it’s useful for yourself and for trading.
Remember that these pills are intended for veterinary use, thus you should not use them for human consumption unless absolutely necessary. Always visit a doctor if at all possible.
Try AmoxFin, available on Amazon. Each bottle is about $40 and contains 30 pills. No prescription is needed, and it has a shelf life of about two years. Plus, the reviews are hilarious!
An interesting note: Apparently, you can make penicillin yourself.
The best defense against infection is to prevent it before it starts so that hopefully it never gets to the point where you need to take something like amoxicillin at all. This starts, of course, with preventing infection through the use of proper hygiene, and the use of infection preventing creams and ointments like Neosporin on cuts and wounds.
Alcohol–the kind you use on wounds, not the kind you drink–is a great all-purpose antiseptic, and can be used to sterilize equipment and surfaces as well as cleaning wounds. It’s a great fuel for starting fires, can be used to create slushy cold packs for treating wounds, and you can even use it to make bombs! Super helpful stuff.
Hydrogen peroxide is another great wound cleanser, but it has tons of other uses, too. It can be used to purify water (as long as it’s 35% food grade peroxide). It’s a great mouth rinse. It can soothe insect bites. It’s VERY useful for healing ear infections and pain and for cleaning wax buildup. It’s another very useful thing to have.
Witch hazel isn’t necessarily going to save anyone’s life, but it’s extremely useful for clearing up skin problems, cooling the kind of sunburns you might get from working in the sun all day, soothing hemorrhoids, and much more.
The last thing you want to happen if you are dependent on insulin is to run out of it, but it’s one thing that will probably run out quite quickly is the SHTF. Insulin-dependent diabetics must have insulin to live. Without it, they risk severe organ damage from chronic blood sugar issues that could eventually lead to death.
Remember that insulin must be kept refrigerated. You’ll need to make preparations to keep your insulin as cool as possible in the event of a power outage.
A mild fever is rarely cause for concern. Human temperatures can vary naturally by a few degrees at different times of the day or, for example, during ovulation. But a fever of over 103, especially on a prolonged basis, can be deadly. For this reason, keeping a good supply of medications that can reduce a fever is a good idea.
Aspirin is a good fever reducer, but keep some others like Tylenol on hand for young children. Aspirin can cause a potentially fatal condition called Reye’s Syndrome in children, especially if they’ve recently had a viral infection like chicken pox or the flu, so it shouldn’t be given to anyone under the age of 18 without a doctor’s orders.
While pain isn’t necessarily deadly on its own, it can be so brutal at times that it can take you away from the important work you need to do. For this reason, it’s important to have some pain relievers on hand. And, of course, it just so happens that most fever reducers are also pain relievers.
Fungal infections can be extremely uncomfortable and distracting. Although they are rarely deadly, it can be working keeping anti-fungal medications on hand to clear up any infections like ringworm or athlete’s foot or feminine issues.
You need lots of bandages if the SHTF, because… well, let’s be frank here… you’re a lot more likely to get injured if you’re having to do more manual labor, and there’s a chance you’ll be injured while defending your home and your preps. You can never have too many bandages. Plus, you can use bandages for other things in a pinch.
Bandages you should keep on hand include:
- Rolls of gauze
- Adhesive bandages
- Compression bandages
- Gauze pads (different sizes, including very large pads)
- Adhesive tape
Some wounds MUST be sutured, so it’s important to keep supplies on hand for this purpose. However, it’s important to know that you should NOT attempt suturing a wound unless you really know what you’re doing, because you risk making the wound worse. There’s a great post here on suturing wounds.
Tweezers are essential for many different functions, from removing splinters to plucking out ingrown hairs and cleaning debris out of wounds. It’s a good idea to keep several pairs on hand. Fortunately, they are relatively expensive.
Electronic thermometers could be nearly useless in the event of an EMP or long-term power outage, so it’s important to have a few old-fashioned thermometers in your medical supplies, too. They break quite easily, so always keep a few, and always keep them inside a case to protect them from damage.
Latex and Nitrile Gloves
Hygiene is extremely important, not just for your own protection, but for anyone you treat. Because many people are allergic to latex, you’ll probably want to keep some nitrile gloves on hand, as well. Even if you aren’t allergic to latex yourself, your patient might be.
Whenever you’re going to work on yourself or someone else, it’s important to be as clean as possible. Gloves can break, putting both you and your patient at risk of infection. For this reason, keeping hand sanitizer on hand is essential. Since its shelf life is pretty much indefinite, keep several large bottles on hand for emergencies, but don’t use it every day. Regular soap and water works fine for everyday use, and you’ll want to keep your hand sanitizer for use during medical emergencies.
Sure, you can make crutches in a pinch, but it’s better to keep a pair or two on hand, just in case. No one in your family is likely to be able to afford much downtime, so you’ll need crutches to help you get back to work as quickly as possible.
First Aid Guide
A good first aid guide is invaluable. Even if you have medical training, your family may need to treat you in the event that you’re incapacitated, so having a manual on hand is vital.
Boric acid is a great item to have on hand in case of infestation by insects, but it’s also very handy for medical purposes. It can be used to make eye wash, contact lens solution, it can act as a flame retardant, and more.
Benadryl is essential for preppers, especially those with serious allergies, because access to epinephrine may not be possible. Benadryl isn’t always as effective as epinephrine, but it can save a life if nothing else is available. Just don’t use it for things like itchy eyes due to hay fever, because it’s much too valuable for that.
Epinephrine, especially in the form of Epi Pens, can be expensive. It also don’t store well long-term. But if at all possible, you should keep some on hand if any members of your family have serious allergies.
Face masks are absolutely essential, especially in situations like pandemics or chemical warfare. N-100 masks work better than N-95, because N-95 masks only filter about 95% of particles, while N-100 masks are near 100. However, they don’t offer full protection as they don’t cover the eyes like a gas mask. Still, they are very helpful in most cases, and they cost much less than a full-face gas mask.
You can find them on Amazon.
Penrose Drain Tubes
Penrose drain tubes are used to drain fluid from wounds, but they are also extremely useful as tourniquets. You may have seen this in use when you’ve had your blood drawn and the nurse ties the stretchy tube above your elbow. It’s a good idea to have a few on hand in case a quick tourniquet is needed.
You can find these on Amazon as well.
Epsom salt has a number of medical uses, such as providing magnesium for people with heart arrhythmias, and as a laxative. It’s also great for fertilizing plants and other uses.
If anyone has asthma, it’s a good idea to keep a few inhalers on hand. There are a number of different natural remedies for asthma, but none of them will likely work as well as an inhaler. These are also great for bartering.
Organic vitamins are more readily absorbed than those created by companies like Centrum, and they are likely to last longer in storage, too. Having a good quality multivitamin could save your life in the event that you cannot have a balanced diet for a long period of time.
There are certain things that can’t be helped, and life goes on whether the SHTF or not. In the absence of standard birth control methods, pregnancy is certainly a possibility, and it’s important to be able to know for sure whether or not a woman is pregnant so that she can receive the best possible prenatal care available to her.
Additionally, pregnant women need more nutrition than other people, so knowing she is pregnant will allow you to give her extra vitamins and calories when she needs them.
I don’t recommend stocking up on a lot of tampons or sanitary napkins for use AS feminine products, because they will run out very quickly. For that, reusable products are better. Even cloth diapers will work, and they can be washed. But sanitary napkins are highly absorbent and work great for bandages in a pinch when there’s a lot of blood loss.
Celox, or another similar clotting agent, could easily save a life. For large wounds that are bleeding so heavily that clotting is difficult or impossible, using Celox can cause the blood to clotand stop the bleeding. This stuff is used in the military to stop bleeding on the battlefield. It’s very useful.
You can get Celox on Amazon.