If the SHTF and society collapses, most of the services you’re used to having around will disappear. You’ll be on your own for most or all of the things you need – and that includes health care.
As a prepper one of the things you need to prepare for is becoming your own doctor, and being responsible for treating yourself and your loved ones.
Most homes should have at least a basic first aid kit, but in a long-lasting crisis those aren’t really going to cut it. As well as bandages, eyewash and the other supplies for treating cuts and burns, you’re going to need medication.
If you have pre-existing medical conditions and need to take medication regularly you’ll need as large a supply of that as possible, but what I want to talk about is the more general purpose sort of medication that anyone facing an uncertain future without access to medical professionals is going to need.
Antibiotics to treat infections; remedies for constipation and diarrhea; painkillers to cope with the inevitable hazards of life.
You need to have supplies of all of these, and you need to be confident those supplies are safe to use. Here are some key points you need to know before buying medicine for your stockpiles.
What Do You Need?
There are thousands of drugs available now, but it just isn’t practical – or even legal – to stockpile them all. What you need to focus on is covering the basics. Here are the key medicines you need to have in your emergency supplies:
The wonder drugs of the 20th century, antibiotics are the reason we’re much less likely to die of bacterial infections now.
They need to be used carefully – taking them when they’re not needed, or stopping them before taking the full course of treatment, can help resistant strains of bacteria evolve.
But without them your chances of survival go way down. You can’t generally buy antibiotics over the counter, so here is how to stockpile antibiotics without a prescription.
Pain isn’t just unpleasant; it can prevent you from doing things, even essential tasks. Painkillers are a vital part of any survival medical kit. There are three main ones you should have in stock:
Aspirin: This can have side effects, but it’s very effective at controlling pain. It’s also good for reducing fever. Because it’s a blood thinner it can help prevent strokes and heart attacks, too. If you think you feel the early symptoms of a heart attack, take aspirin immediately.
Acetaminophen/ Paracetamol: Another general purpose painkiller, which like aspirin is also effective against fever.
Ibuprofen: A painkiller and anti-inflammatory that works well on headaches as well as general pains. It can even ease some kinds of arthritis.
Anti-diarrheals: Diarrhea, like pain, is unpleasant. It can also kill you. Untreated, it will quickly lead to dehydration – and that can easily be fatal. Over the counter ant-diarrhea medications are a must-have.
Laxatives: Diarrhea is dangerous, but constipation isn’t very nice either.
Antibacterial ointment: A tube of antibacterial ointment can prevent a lot of infections before they get started. Use it to treat wounds and burns.
Electrolytes: Rehydration salts can be a life saver. If someone has severe diarrhea they’ll be losing fluids and vital electrolytes. You can improvise by dissolving salt and sugar in water, but sachets of proper rehydration salts are cheap and very effective.
Using Animal Medications
A common prepper workaround for antibiotics is to go to a pet supply store and buy fish medication. They contain the same active drugs as the ones you’d get from a pharmacy, but you don’t need a prescription to buy them.
There are other medicines that cross the species barrier, too. Remember ivermectin from the 2020 pandemic? It’s regularly used to treat horses, but it works on humans too.
You need to be careful using animal medications, though. For a start, be aware of the actual dosage, and don’t assume that because an animal tablet is the same size as a human one that the dosage is similar. All pills contain a certain amount of inert binder to hold them together, and the proportion can vary wildly.
Pills for small animals tend to contain a lot more binder, just to make the pills big enough for vets to handle; on the other hand, a tablet for a 1,500 pound horse is only going to contain enough binder to keep it from falling apart.
When it comes to animal medication you need to know exactly what you’re buying. Do some research and check the active ingredients carefully. In a real emergency it might be worth taking a risk on something you’re not quite sure about, but this is far from ideal.
Using Old Medicines
Medications, like food, have a use by date on them. The difference is that while it’s easy to tell if a package of lunch meat is past its best, drugs can deteriorate and become ineffective – or even toxic – without their appearance changing at all. The good news is that around 90% of pills are still perfectly fine even 15 years after their expiration date. (Source)
If a drug is only a couple of years out of date it’s almost certainly fine. To help them last, keep them in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight. Vacuum-sealing packs of pills will also help preserve them.
With liquid medications you need to be a lot more careful, especially with drugs like insulin, nitroglycerin or liquid antibiotics that need to be kept refrigerated. If you have a choice between storing pills or liquids, it’s safest to go with the pills.
Rotate Where Possible
If you’re building up a stock of medicine it’s important to rotate supplies just like you do with food. When you get a new box of tablets it should go to the back of the shelf; if you need to take some, use the oldest you have. That way, if a crisis hits you’ll go into it with your medicine stockpile in the best possible shape.
Survival medicines are one of the most controversial areas of prepping. There are a lot of different opinions around, especially about the safety of using old or veterinary drugs, and discussions can get quite heated. At the end of the day it’s up to you how you balance the risks.
You should also consider learning about natural remedies. These don’t treat all the things modern drugs can, but they can still be very valuable – and of course, if you know what you’re doing, they’re freely available.
If you want to learn more about natural remedies that could actually save your life in a crisis, I recommend checking out The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies. This comprehensive guide provides valuable insights into the healing power of plants and offers step-by-step instructions on creating herbal remedies.
It was made for people with no prior plant knowledge who are looking for alternative ways to help themselves or their families, when medical help will no longer be available.
If we get into a TEOTWAWKI scenario, modern medications will be a dwindling resource, and when your supplies are gone there won’t be any more. It’s important to make the most of what you have, and be prepared for the day stocks run out.
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