One of the first difficulties survivors would face in the likely event of a disaster scenario is the shortage of supplies. Both shops will be cleared within hours of the reported incident, including the drugstores. Lack of travel, chaos and confusion certainly won’t help to get new supplies. Hospitals will be packed, and physicians won’t be able to treat all those who need care – so being prepared to support yourself is the best thing you can do!
Medication is one of the things we take for granted, particularly over the counter-drugs. I mean, that’s just so simple! – Just walk a few miles, and buy them. Okay, things might change faster than you might think and suddenly something as simple as Tylenol could be worth more than its gold weight. Yet prescription medications will be much, much more important – they’re going to be the lifesavers, drawing the line between death and life.
Going to a grocery store and purchasing 2 racks of drugs isn’t smart, nor is it useful. You need to draw up a list of the most popular medications you and your family use. If that is the case, then you can also mention the medical illnesses that you and your family have. When you are a type I diabetic, unexpectedly running out of insulin isn’t what you want.
Here’s a list of medications that should always be available, based on how frequently such drugs are used in the average household.
Over The Counter Drugs
- Ibuprofen. This is the active compund of drugs like Motrin or Advil. It’s an anti-inflammatory drug used for pain and inflammation and it also relieves fever. It can be used safely in adults as well as in children 3 months of age or older with the right dose. It comes as pills and as a suspension and it would be best to stock both if you have babies. Long-term use and heavy doses can be harmful to the stomach, so you can stay away from it for as long as possible when you have ulcer. Combined with acetaminophen, it improves its efficacy as a painkiller, making it competitive with codeine or tramadol.
- Acetaminophen. This is known as Tylenol and it’s the only pain-reliever that isn’t an anti-inflammatory medication, and the stomach is much more gentle. This is available in dosages for children and adults, and can be used safely and in infants younger than 3 months. This also battles fever effectively, but its role as a pain reliever is, according to certain patients, milder than that of Ibuprofen.
- Loperamide. Commonly known as Imodium, this is the most effective over the counter drug against diarrhea. Make sure to store it both in children and adult versions.
- Rehydration electrolytes. They are especially useful for young children, because they are prone to severe dehydration once vomiting or diarrhea kicks in.
- Ranitidine. This is more widely known as Zantac and it’s a great antacid. This is used to treat ulcer and gastritis, and to treat common heartburn. This is usually prescribed to be used in people with sensitive stomach, along with ibuprofen.
- Bacitracin ointment. It is a cream containing a small dose of a highly effective antibiotic, intended to treat skin lesions on the surface and combat potential infection. For a deep cut, which normally needs oral antibiotherapy, it isn’t enough, but it will work well for abrasions, insect bites or impetigo.
- Acetylsalicylic acid. This is commonly known as Aspirin, so you need to be mindful that this will never be used in patients under 18 years old. You should stock the enteric aspirine, which dissolves in the intestines and spares the stomach. When you have an abdominal disease, it is best to stop it.
- Loratadine. You will find this in stores under the names of Claritin or Alavert. There are adult tablets, and children’s dissolving tablets. It is an antiallergic medication and can be used to treat moderate allergies.
- Cetrizine. Known as Zyrtec, this is a little bit stronger antiallergic, which should NOT be used if you are allergic to Hydroxyzine.
- Epipens. If you or your kids are known to be prone to allergic reactons, an Epipen is an essential tool. This is a dose of adrenaline which will help in the case of an anaphylactic reaction.
- Diphenhydramine. It’s the active compound in Benadryl, used both in children and adults and it’s the most commonly used antihistaminic because it is very effective for hives.
- Skin antiseptics. In a disaster scenario, these are EXTREMELY important. The risk of having skin woulds is big, and the risk of dangerous infection comes with it. Imagine that the sewage system won’t work, or that corpses are spreading widely – too many sources of nasty bacterial infections! The most popular and efficient antiseptics are ethyl alcohol (70%), isopropyl alcohol (70%), chlorhexidine (also useful in the treatment of serious wounds), crystal violet and gentian violet (for wounds and burns), potassium permanganate (can be used as a wound cleaner but also for gargles, mouthwash and irrigation), hydrogen peroxide (6%)
- Multivitamins. For these, there are plenty of commercial deals. Normally, a healthy balanced diet would be preferred, but that may be difficult to achieve in emergency situations, so a complicated diet supplement is welcome so that you can give your body all the required minerals and vitamins.
- Activated charcoal tablets. Typically, they are used in an extremely large variety of cases, from consuming digestive gas to reducing cholesterol, so it’s very important that you have this in your emergency kit as an emergency drug in intoxications. It can trap toxins and avoid them from passing into the body.
Such materials will keep your family happy. You will have them in ample quantities to last for at least 6 months, but if you have the money, it would be easier to store them in higher quantities, because they could also be used for trade. Their validity is up to 2-3 years, so make sure you periodically test your stock – it’s not very useful to have 100 pills that will all expire within 3 months.
There are a lot of prescription medications that make our lives safer and that certainly help us get well again, but the most important in a catastrophe scenario are antibiotics. Nonetheless, these are controlled drugs and there is no chance a doctor will consent to prescribe anything like that unless you really need it.
Antibiotics are substances which help your body combat bacterial infections. Bacterial infections are much more serious than viral disease, and while they may both destroy you, the worst-case scenarios expose you mainly to out-of-control bacteria, for at least 2 reasons: sanitary causes (there is a great risk that the sanitation system would no longer function, which means that there is no safe drinking water and untreated waste water contaminating almost everything) and a large number of deaths.
Medicine has produced a large number of antibiotics as a response to the fact that bacteria are relatively fast “learners”. Antibiotic abuse is another thing that has done a lot of damage – people have been confident for quite a while that antibiotics won’t do any harm, even though they’re taken when not really needed, and that’s what some people still do. Antibiotics are intended to be used ONLY if necessary, so it is much more important in the case of a catastrophe to conserve the supplies as much as possible and to hold them for real emergency.
So, what are the best antibiotics to stock?
- Amoxicillin. This is a wide spectrum antibiotic that can be used in adults and children as well. It is also safe during pregancy and breastfeeding. It has few side effects which are almost always mild, however it may cause allergic reactions.
- Ampicillin. It is also a wide spectrum antibiotic that works for all the above mentioned categories. It works for respiratory tract infections, anthrax, UTIs, gastrointestinal infections and it is less lilely to cause severe allergies.
- Sulfamethoxazole and Trimpethoprim are used in combination to treat most UTIs. They can also cure respiratory tract infections, but usually they are kept as an emergency situation for infections with the resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, which is easily spread.
- Ciprofloxacin. It also works great for UTIs, pneumonia and digestive tract infections, but it must never be used in children, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
- Metronidazole. This is especially efficient on anaerobe bacteria. It is most commonly used in combination with ciprofloxacin to treat diverticulitis, bone infections, lung abcesses. It must not be used in children, during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- Erythromycin. This is efficient in respiratory infections, syphilis, Lyme and chlamydia, it is safe to use in children, but it has pretty frequent side effects, mainly nausea and diarrhea.
- Doxycycline. It mainly has the same indications as erythromycin and is also effective against typhus and malaria. However it is not inded for childen use and preganant women should also stay away from it.
- Azythromycin is one of the most powerful antibiotics available in drugstores. It treats a very wide range of disease, but it’s more expensive than the ones mentioned before and it might be a little harder to get a prescription for it, since doctors tend to keep it as a last resort treatment.
How do you obtain these antibiotics?
There are many options to get supplies for those antibiotics. The most reliable one is always talking to the doctor and letting them know you’re concerned about a crisis situation and you want to be prepared. When you’ve been that doctor’s patient for a while, they’ll most likely understand your concern and support you.
When you’re traveling overseas, most physicians would consent to give you a prescription for a wide range of antibiotics (or even two).
Or, you can fly overseas and get in touch with a doctor and convince him to give you a prescription. Make sure you have the prescription along with the tablets when you arrive back, otherwise they may be confiscated.
Some buy antibiotics from other countries (for example, Mexico). This is a smart idea sometimes, and sometimes it’s not. While doing so, we suggest a little caution, because safe laws are very different from one country to another, and medicines manufactured abroad can contain additives that are considered dangerous.
Many preppers recommend that antibiotics developed for veterinary use should be stocked. The most frequent recommendations are for Fish Mox Fort (amoxicilin), Fish Flex (cephalexin), Fish Flox (ciprofloxacin), Fish Zole (metronidazole) and Fish Cin (clindamycin). Nonetheless, I advise that in EMERGENCY cases fish antibiotics are ONLY used when prescription medications are obviously not available. And I’d first consult a medical professional – it’s known that fish antibiotics can cause severe allergic reactions.
How to store antibiotics?
Antibiotics can typically be used safely up to 5 years after the expiration date, provided they are kept in suitable conditions: away from sunlight, in dark dry spaces, preventing freezing. However, verifying the expiration date for tetracyclines (erithromycin and doxycycline) is very necessary, as they may become toxic over time. Rotating them is also a smart idea, making sure when a tragedy happens that they are not already expired!
Medication for chronic conditions
Many people may have a chronic illness that causes them to spend the remainder of their life taking their medication regularly, or many times a day. A few examples are heart disease or insulin-dependent diabetes. You’ll need to speak to the doctor in these cases. Your doctor would most likely decide to help you make 3 months of stock (a stock for 6 months will be even better). Be alert to rotate the pills in your stock when you get your monthly perscriptions, to ensure you use new ones before their expiry date.
Cleaning soap, sterile gloves and latex gloves, sterile roller bandages, syringes and needles, scissors and tweezers, thermometer and a lubricant should also be included in your first aid kit. An alcohol thermometer would be much better than a battery-operated digital thermometer, and much safer than a mercury one. (click here for the full list)
Please go ahead and add them in a comment if you have any further suggestions!