Monday, February 28, 2011

Practical Preparedness - Pharmaceuticals

Every couple of years, we take an inventory of our medical supplies, both pharmaceuticals and wound care, and make major purchases.  This year, we are redoubling our preparedness efforts, so rather than making one major purchase, we are breaking things down into categories and making numerous purchases, otherwise the shear volume would overwhelm us.

A recent buying trip (to our local Costco) yielded pharmaceutical gold.  Here is a sampling of what we bought, and why....

  • Fleet Saline Enemas.  As people age and become less active, a little help in the waste management department is indicated.  Also, a change in diet, from a heavily laden fiber diet to a diet including mostly protein (as in a wild game driven TEOTWAWKI diet) will cause things to "stop up".  If not dealt with quickly and efficiently, constipation could prove to be a life-threatening condition.
  • Stool Softeners.  Basically, they are indicated for the same condition mentioned above, however, they would be a preventative, taken before complete stoppage.
  • Cough Drops.  For soothing relief of itchy throats due to PND and bothersome colds.  Something along the lines of Chloraseptic Throat Lozenges would be in order for sore throats.
  • Ibuprofen.  Fever relief and pain management.  Ibuprofen is good three years past the expiration date (per doctor), then throw it away. 
  • Quick Release Caps Ibuprofen.  For super fast acting pain relief or fever reduction.  Gel caps are more expensive and the shelf life is shorter, but can be worth the extra price.
  • Tylenol.  Fever relief and pain management.  Tylenol has no shelf life (per doctor), so it is an excellent long term storage option.
  • Aspirin.  Fever relief and pain management.  It also works as a blood thinner.  Aspirin lasts forever (per doctor), making it perfect for long term storage.
  • Children's Tylenol.  As indicated previously, but with children's dosage.
  • Children's Ibuprofen.  As indicated previously, but with children's dosage.
  • Tylenol PM.  Use as you would for Tylenol, but with the added benefit of a sleep aid.  In cases of extreme illness or pain, sleeping can be a great healer.
  • Benadryl Allergy.  Benadryl is the first course of action for an anaphylactic reaction.  It can be the difference between life and death.  We keep quite a supply on hand.
  • Children's Benadryl Allergy.  Same as above, but with dosage for children.
  • Neosporin.  An antibiotic ointment to be used on minor scrapes and scratches to prevent infection.  It can keep minor injuries minor.
  • Bag Balm.  Truthfully, we use bag balm in place of Neosporin regularly, with great success.  We do find that the Neosporin tubes are easier to transport in packs and bags.
  • Visine. When allergies come calling or you get something in your eye, there is no better eye wash.  It can bring immediate relief.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide.  The uses for hydrogen peroxide are too numerous to mention!  We use it extensively to remove blood from clothing and linens.  It is also a great gargle and antiseptic.
  • Betadine.  We use Betadine as a topical antiseptic.  You can scrub for minor surgery (or major) with a Betadine solution by mixing 2oz. of dish soap to 1 gallon of betadine.  This is an excellent solution to wash with and sterilize wounds.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol.  Yet another topical antiseptic for use in wound care (ie. sterilization of instruments).

Not only do we stock up on simple medications, we purchase large quantities of vitamins to maintain health.  Our daily regime consists of an Emergen-C packet every morning followed by a high quality multi-vitamin.  Emergen-C is available in bulk at Costco and is packaged in a foil packet (plastic is NOT an oxygen barrier!).  My all-time favorite multi-vitamins are made by a company called Beeyoutiful.  I love them!  I take Super Mom and they have worked so well for both Maid Elizabeth and myself that I just placed an order for Super Dad for Sir Knight!

Preparing for medical emergencies goes hand in hand with food storage, defense and communications when anticipating a grid-down scenario.   It's not just about preparedness - it's about Practical Preparedness.


  1. I'm an RN also stocking up my medical kit. My opinion is to stay away from ibuprofen. NSAIDS have a risk of heart attack and stroke. Aleve (naproxen sodium) has by far the least risk. Ibuprofen was so highon the list of the study I read I no longer use it.
    Also, apsprin does not have anunlimited shelf life. But, there is an wasy way to tell if it's gone bad: smell it. If it smells like vinigar, it's no longer good.
    You also must be very careful of Tylenol (Acetaminophen). It's in a lot of cold remedies, so it can be easy to overdose. In fact, it's the leading cause of liver failure and transplants in the US. So be sure to read theingredients of what yo are taking!
    Benedryl is a good sleep aid. We used to give it as a pre-op sedative in the hospital. It's actually the sleep aid part of Tylenol PM.
    Do not use alcohol for "wound care". It has a nasty habit of attacking good tissue. Use it for cleaning intact skin only. Use Hydrogen peroxide for wounds.
    And there's nothing better for sunburns and other minor burns than Lidocaine HCL. Do a search in Amazone for it and you'll get all sort of products that contain lidocaine.
    Don't forget a stethescope, blood pressure cuff, old fasion mercury thermometer (no batteries needed) and an otoscope for looking in ears!

  2. Oh, almost forgot. Primatine Mist is basically pure epinephren. Stock up now. It will be banned from over the counter sales in December of this year. Primatene Mist Inhaler is used to treat severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to insect stings or bites, foods, drugs, and other allergens. 0.22 mg of epinephrine per spray. It can be a lifesaver. Be sure to read the lable.

  3. Dave;
    Thanks for posting your comments and recommendations! It is always good to hear from folks in the field.


  4. You are officially one of my new heroes. What I wouldn't give to come down and chat/tour your setup for an afternoon. :) I too have been taking stock of what we've got medicine/first-aid wise and what I need a deeper shelf of lately during the lull here before I get my seeds started shortly.

    Another thought that probably won't be as well received by some is to buy abroad. When we were laid off and had zero income and zero insurance, we couldn't afford a doctor visit plus $50-$75/inhaler for me and my asthma. So for a fraction of that small fortune, we, ahem, found some albuterol from a different continent and even Nystatin from Canada. When it's the exact same ingredients in the same exact formulation (we triple checked ours) and you know exactly how to use it... Although asthma and the very random children's yeast infection aren't exactly going to call for narcotics. :)

  5. I do believe you're one of my new heroes. What I wouldn't give to come down for an afternoon and chat with you and tour your lovely setup. :) I've been tweaking our med/first-aid goods lately as well, so quite timely indeed.

    I do have another thought that may not thrill some... When we were laid off and had zero income and zero health insurance, we, ahem, ordered from abroad. I have asthma, and like to have a nice little stockpile of inhalers (which are so expensive now thanks to the FDA and EPA). If you check and check, and check again to make sure the ingredients are correct for you... Although granted, the meds we need[ed] aren't narcotics and such.

  6. I'm assuming all of this is a chunk of money. So if you had to pick a couple of items to top the list, which would they be? We can only do so much with one pay check, but I'm trying?

  7. Dave, my son and I both have asthma. How do the primatene mist inhalers work for attacks? Are they any good at all? (I haven't been able to ask anyone yet so I figured now's the time.)

    Enola, well I definitely can't keep up with you! But I've only started and while I'm 2d generation self-sufficient, my folks were not preppers!

  8. Check for allergies before using ANY OTC product.
    Here is a basic primer on Basic Wound Care

    It would be a great idea to make a special binder and start printing hard copies of med info such as this, or copy it to a thumb drive so you access the pdf at a later needed time.
    If we have a web-down scenario, it would not be available for reference.

    "Avoid using antiseptics such as (Betadine) iodine, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide. We now
    know that these solutions, although frequently used in the past, are NOT an ideal method of
    cleaning. Such antiseptics are very strong and can harm the infection-fighting white
    blood cells as well as new skin cells, therefore resulting in more frequent infections and
    longer healing time when compared to simple washing with water. Any type of regular mild
    soap is okay to use. And don’t worry if some soap gets into the wound."

    I recommend the use of plain glycerin soap and clean water.

    Check the date of your last Tetanus immunization.
    Get it up to date now! every 5 years if you're doing farm work is stretching it.


  9. BABL,
    I used to have childhood athsma, but now only occasionally have attacks, usually induced by a sudden change of temperature or an overload of strong smells. I used to go to the DR & get a perscription inhaler which cost way too much $$$$ so I now use Primatene mist & it works instantly for me. I also find ithard to come by as the local Walmart & Walgreens do not always have it in stock.

  10. Thanks for this list! I've been stocking up on many of these already, but you've given me a few more items to think about. For those who can't buy a lot at a time, if you have a Walgreen's or other similar store nearby, you can use coupons to get a lot of these items for far less than the regular price. I'm an avid couponer and hit the medicine sales at Walgreen's a lot, and sometimes end up paying just pennies on the dollar. I just wish my stash was as pretty and as organized as yours!

  11. Be careful of buying too much cold medicine at one time.I saw an article where a grandmother was arrested for buy two boxes of cold medicine in the same week.It seems that cold medicines are used for making some places have passed laws limiting how much you can buy at once.The police in this case tracked purchases through the pharmacies.

  12. I also have athsma,the primatene mist and tablets always worked for me.However I was told by a doctor that using it long term can be dangerous so be careful with it.

  13. Enola, thanks for the list and for sharing the information you got from medical professionals. You are a godsend!

    One of the things I've added to my first aid supplies is petroleum jelly (Vaseline). It's good for so many things, from fire-starting to diaper rash. It can also be used to soothe chapped lips, soften rough hands, fight lice, and keep a fishing reel operating smoothly. Plus, I have personally never heard of anybody having an adverse reation to it. As long as it stays out of the heat, it seems to last forever.

    NoCal Gal

  14. Thanks guys for the advice. We get attacks fairly infrequently, but I will definitely keep what you said in mind.

    Enola, can you can milk? I'm looking at moving at the end of summer and won't have electricity, and figured you would be the one to ask. Thanks!

  15. One of the keys to successful prepping is to make limited resources stretch further. In my experience, this frequently includes unorthodox ideas. I'd save the money on the enema kits by buying a reusable one from a sex toy store. I know it probably offends the sensibility of some, but a single $20 purchase (like this one: makes a whole lot more sense than buying large quantities of disposable items.

  16. Most hot water bottles at the drugstore come with an enema tube. Just use clean water at body temperature and clean the tip before and after use.

  17. Super Mom used to be my vitamin of choice, but with so many little ones, I didn't always have the money to get it. I went looking for a cheaper version - and found the NOW brand vitamins. I can't remember the name, but it has exactly the same ingredients as the Super Mom. I still purchase from the Beeyoutiful folks - just not my multi. Cindy

  18. We just purchased similar things but have the advantage of having been at Wal-Mart, then Sam's, and then Costco.

    Our physician recommended that we stock Mucinex(R) as one of three medicines that would be useful for swine-flu symptoms - it's designed to loosen and relieve mucus in the chest. Sam's and Costco both stock name-brand Mucinex for about $.60 per dose. However, only Sam's Club has a generic version that costs less than $.03 per dose.

    If you are able to get to a Sam's Club I would recommend you consider purchasing the generic Mucinex - titled "Member's Mark Mucus Relief" - and containing 400mg guaifenesin.


  19. Thumbs up for Mucinex or anything with high levels of guaifenisin for chest colds or mucus in general.

    This is where being a super couponer has really helped my prepping. I haven't paid a dime for any of the medications, shampoo, razors, soap, etc. in years. Just picked up two bottles of Motrin tonight for free from Walgreens, but will think twice about taking it after reading comments above.

  20. Pharma marketing cracks me up. Mucinex is just guaifenisin in a new box with anmated characters selling it. Guaifenisin was introduced in 1952! Stick with generic and save $$.
    Another good "drug" to stock up on is valarian root. It's dirt cheap and acts as a good muscle relaxant. Stinks like a skunk, but effective.

  21. For sinus problems a nettie pot and kosher salt/baking soda mix cant be beat. Sams Club is stocking them now for around $20.

  22. The "cold medicine" the old lady was arrested for is Sudafed - pseudoephedrine hydrochloride. I have to show my license every time I buy it and my purchases are tracked in a database.
    The "Tylenol PM" active ingredient is Benadryl as another poster listed.
    Very interesting comments about wound care with Peroxide or Betadine. I guess sterile saline solution is the best thing to have on hand for this (in a pressurized can to ensure sterility - like they sell for contacts?)

    I bought a scalpel, sutures, and other basic surgical items from You can buy kits or just the exact items you want. This may seem extreme, but if you need it, and there is a doctor around who knows how to use it, and you don't have it, well? They also have an outstanding first aid book for camping.

  23. Basic First Aid Kits should contain equipment for suturing of "simple" closures for simple wounds.
    Note: NEVER suture a puncture wound, animal bite,
    or a wound that still has foreign bodies in the tissues.
    Here is a recommended 4 part video that shows you how to suture. Credit goes to
    'Austere Medical Project', USN, ER DOC.
    Thanks Doc!


  24. Walmart sells the Guaifenisin under the EQUATE label.
    It can also be found in Dollar stores, as well as the Valerian Root capsules, for $1.00.
    Another generic med found there used for calming and sleep aid is Melatonin.
    Another tip: Vit C tablets are citric acid, used in activating the rise process in breadmaking, as well as preventing the Vit C deficiency disease of Scurvy. In hard times,(now) citric fruits will be harder to come by, unless you have citrus trees producing now. The ancient Greeks remedied this by storing fresh lemons or limes in oil or brine in crocks or jars for preservation.


  25. Preserved Salted Lemons Recipe


    * 4 to 5 lemons
    * 1/3 cup sea, kosher, or table salt
    * Juice of 3 to 4 Sunkist® lemons

    Instructions: (Makes 1 pint jar)

    * Remove stems from lemons.
    * In large saucepan, cook lemons in boiling water to cover for 1 minute.
    * Drain water and rub lemons dry with paper toweling.
    * Cut lemons in quarters lengthwise, from blossom end to 1/2 inch of stem end, cutting almost through but leaving quarters attached.
    * Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons salt between lemon quarters, and reassemble lemons.
    * Pack lemons into sterilized wide-mouth 1-quart jar, pressing down on lemons to release some of their juice, and packing as tightly as possible.
    * Sprinkle remaining salt over lemons in jar. Add enough lemon juice to cover lemons.
    * Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 weeks.
    * Shake once a day until salt is dissolved, and push lemon down into liquid to keep covered.

  26. Know what an 'ol Sourdough from Alaska told me a few years back? For the Vit C deficiency, he stocked up on Country Time Lemonade or Tang. It lasted him a long time and he drank it regularly. If ya have kids, it might be easier for them to swallow a sweet drink w/Vit C than swallowing a pill. Atleast with my 4-yr-old it would. A good Vit C drink is at the website - their Apple/Peach/Orange drink. Kids like it and no fussing about swallowing pills.

  27. No lemons, no Vit C tabs, No Tang, NO Worry!

    Pine needles contain 5 times the vitamin C found in lemons.

    Think of it as a herbal tea. A handful of pine needles, or 1/4 cup fresh chopped needles steeped in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes provide 100% of the U.S.R.D.A. of vitamin C. Pine soup (or tea) tastes like the pine forest smells, or add a little honey to liven it up a bit.
    For more info and history on Pine Soup Pine Tea see:

  28. Thank you so much for sharing this list. Its really valuable.I have subscribe your feed. Keep posting.
    -Neti pot

  29. Believe it or not, you can prevent scurvy by eating meat. The sailors that ate limes to prevent scurvy had a sea going diet of no meat and a lot of grains, which sounds suspiciously like a preppers diet. You've GOT to have meat and fats. That's one of the reasons my prepper diet contains pemmican (powdered homemade jerky from grassfed cattle mixed with beef tallow in a 50-50 ratio). It'll keep for many years with no refrigeration, and you can literally live on it for extended periods.
    The Inuit had no fruit in their diet but did not get scurvy.

  30. Let me qualify that. You've GOT to have fats. You can live without meat, just not as optimal. It takes a large amount of vegetables to = the caloric and nutritional density of grassfed beef, bison and salmon. Salmon makes a good jerky too.

  31. vitamin c is ascorbic acid, not citric acid.

  32. one of the highest sources of vit. c is from sprouted wheat the grass and the water that you drain off them-this comes from Jack West who was a great source for food storage ideas back in the 70's gf

  33. I really like your list there are a few items that I have not had on mine,in particular the stool softeners and enemas. However I can see where the need for them may arise.
    i believe that Dave R.N is wrong on subject of meat and vitamin C. The English Navy ate large amounts of salted beef and pork and still suffered scurvy.