I thought today that we’d talk about emergency medical preparedness. I’ll be focusing on what you can include in your bug out bag. Medical preparedness is a huge topic. Entire books have been written about it that explain it better than I ever could. I’ll suggest a couple at the end for anyone interested. Please note that I’m not a medical professional. Anything suggested or talk about here isn’t meant to diagnose or treat any medical issue. You should always contact a doctor when a medical issue arises.
When I was making my list for my bug out bag, more than three-quarters of the items I listed ended up being medical supplies. If there’s an emergency, especially one that forces you to leave your home ,the risks of getting injured steadily increase. Of course, as humans, we’re already susceptible to lots of illnesses and minor injuries. It boggles the mind to think about everything you’d need, even for minor things, if you can’t just run out to the store to get them.
So what do we do? One of the most helpful realizations I came to is: you can’t plan for everything. You’ll make yourself crazy. And you can’t carry everything either. You can certainly gather lots of supplies and put them away, which I suggest. Accessories that I feel I may need less are in a tote that I’ve put together. But for your bug out bag? We have to consider and choose. How prepared would you really be if you had to leave your home, to a shelter perhaps, and opened your bag to only medical supplies when you and your family are physically fine, but cold, wet and hungry?
It’s all about balance. I can’t tell you what, exactly, to include in your bag. Every person and family is different. If you or a loved one have a prescription or ongoing medical issue that requires you have items on hand, you should include those in your bag. Diabetic accessories, catheters, epi-pens… not everyone will need these things, but those that will, can’t go without them. The surest way to make a bad situation worse is to not have essential medical items that you depend on.
That leads into non-life threatening issues that can really ruin your day. Yeast infections, for example. As irritating as they are to deal with, how much worse would it be in a situation where you’ve had to leave your home and possibly deal with dangerous surroundings? I’ve included anti-fungal cream in my bug out bag for this reason, both for vaginal yeast infections and athlete’s foot.
Women will want to be sure to include tampons or sanitary pads. I’ve packed both. The worst time for your period to start is during high stress, busy times. So of course, it will. But tampons and pads can serve multiple functions, making them even more valuable. Tampons can be used for nose bleeds and pads, being made to be extra absorbent, can be very useful to press over minor bleeding wounds. If you don’t need them during a disaster, they would also be an excellent item to have to trade to someone that needs them.
I’ve also chosen to include a suture kit. It contains suture thread, needle and scalpel, as well as more commonly useful items such as scissors, hemostats, tweezers, antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment. I have a variety of bandages, bandaids, tape and wound dressings, an ace bandage, a sling, an eyepatch, a sam splint, gloves, face masks cotton balls and hand sanitizer.
I have small bottles of isopropyl alcohol, peroxide, iodine, and calamine lotion as well as burn cream, tiger balm, antibiotic ointment, sunscreen, Benadryl cream and saline solution. Tucked into spare pockets are ibuprofen, aspirin, acetamenafin, benedryl, excedrine, gas relief tabs, tums, anti-diarrhea pills and talcum powder. I tossed in an emergency blanket for good measure. They can keep you warm, keep you dry or be used to carry things. And they’re folded up so small, you can fit them practically anywhere.
I purchased many of my medical items from the dollar store. They have the same active ingredients as name brand over the counter medications and comparable expiration dates. You many not get as many in a bottle, but buying two bottles is still quite a bit cheaper than the name brands in many of them. Bandages are bandages. I did my best to gather as much for as little as I could. I also purchases cold and cough medicine, but those are tucked into my medical tote. In packing things, they didn’t make the cut for what I felt was most likely to be needed immediately.
I hope this gives you a starting point in your own plans. I’m not quite done with mine yet. I still need a tourniquet and I haven’t made a decision on cold and hot packs. They can be bulky and since most are pressure activated, packing them in with many other tightly packed items could activate them and thus, they won’t be useful when you need them.
(One extra tip for packing bandaids and bandages: take them out of the box and use a zip lock bag. The boxes are bulky and will get crushed, spilling bandaids everywhere. Squeeze as much air out of the bags as you can. They take up less space, are waterproof and tuckable. You could do the same with bottled pills, but you would have to be sure to label them very carefully.)
I just want to remind everyone again about the giveaway currently going on. Comment on this or any previous posts mentioning the giveaway and be entered to win a free pouch of Mountain House freeze dried food! Giveaway ends on May 26th with the winner announced on May 27th. Good luck!
Until next time, this is the Bug Out Girl saying good night!
The Survival Medical Handbook by Joseph Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP
The Herbal Medicine-Makers Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green