Most of the folks in the Prepping community have good first-aid kits and pay attention to the need to be able to treat injuries on their own during times of strife when they may not have immediate access to a doctor. Fewer pay attention to the need to treat illnesses and to stock up on Prudent and Reasonable amounts of OTC (over the counter) as well as certain prescription medicines.
As I am just recovering from a bad cold – nothing too serious but our frequent readers may have noticed a lapse in posts by good old Butch – I’m taking a renewed interest in this specific area. As I was laid out with a sinus infection, headaches, and a bad cough, I went to my medicine cabinet to see what I had on hand. The fact is I had some OTC medicine that was fine, but really only enough in the house to handle my symptoms for a few days or a week at the most. After that I would need to go back to the store to get more.
So, what if I couldn’t get to the store or the stores weren’t open because of some emergency situation? Well I would be out of luck and on my own. While it’s usually true that your immune system will take care of most minor illnesses on it’s own you can make yourself (or your family members) much more comfortable if you have some of the basic OTC medicines on hand. I recommend stocking up on things like fever reducers, decongestants, anti-diarrheals, cough medicines, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Of course you want to be careful not to go overboard here as certain medicines containing pseudoephedrine are used by unsavory characters to make illegal drugs like methamphetamine. The last thing anyone needs is to have their attempts at Reasonable Preparedness confused with criminal activity. So be aware of what you’re buying and look for options that don’t include this ingredient. There are plenty out there that work just as well.
The other thing that came to mind as I was out sick was my own reliance on prescription medications. I take medicine for high blood pressure and there was one day where I couldn’t remember if I had taken it or not. You see I had slept quite a bit due to my bad cold, was out of my normal cycle, and just forgot if I had taken my pill or not. This was the first time this had happened to me and I was really unsure of what to do. Should I take another pill just in case? Would doubling up be worse than missing a dose? I really didn’t know and was more than a little troubled by this. The next thing I started thinking about was what would happen if I didn’t have access to a pharmacy at all and had to decide how to ration my remaining prescription meds.
This is something we should all think about ahead of time. Everyone who takes a prescription medicine regularly should know what to do in the event they need to stop taking it or taper off of it. Every medicine has a different answer. Some drugs you can just stop taking “cold turkey”. Others need to be tapered off of to avoid very severe side effects including death. Still others (for some people) need to be continued no matter what the situation in order to keep them stable (diabetics taking insulin for example).
I would strongly urge everyone to know what the answer is for every medicine they take. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist and if appropriate have an extra thirty day supply on hand so that you’re not stuck needing a refill just after a hurricane has whipped through your area and closed every pharmacy for miles around. Things like this happen all the time and you need to be prepared.
I’m hoping Thoreau will weigh in here as he has a lot more knowledge in this area than I do. Until then, please do a little personal inventory, check off the boxes you need to, and be Prepared.