Medical supplies are an often overlooked resource in the average American household, and arguably an asset for your family’s survival. Undervalued, at least until you actually need the supplies. Sure, you may have a box of Band-Aids, a few pain relievers, and a two year old bottle of cough syrup in the medicine cabinet. But, how long do you think your supplies would last if you are unable to get to a pharmacy or the doctor’s office? Even if your medical stockpile contained a “moderate” amount of supplies, you still run the risk of exhausting your entire medical supply in just a few days.
If you have not endured a major surgery, injury, or illness then you may not understand the aspects of home-based and survival medical care. Logistically, it can take a lot of medical supplies to provide your own first aid. Bandages need to be changed regularly and injuries could take weeks to heal. If you get diarrhea or worse dysentery, have an allergic reaction, or run a high fever, you may need medications to treat your illness. From an intellectual perspective, it takes knowledge to diagnose and treat your symptoms, and reference manuals to bridge knowledge gaps.
Therefore, you need to learn how to diagnosis, treat, and manage basic medical issues on your own. Luckily, you already know your own body and your current medical condition. Get in the habit of storing extra items that you currently need. For everything else, you do not need to be an expert but you should know the basic tasks and you should have some medical supplies. Hopefully, by having basic medical knowledge and supplies, you can avoid becoming a statistic.
Medical Plan Evaluation
The average post operation can exhaust dozens of gauze bandages, Band-Aids, multiple rolls of medical tape, and a cycle of antibiotics. Now multiply that requirement for every member of your family. Do you have enough medical supplies to last for a day? What about a week? What if your spouse suffers a chainsaw accident while clearing downed trees; could you stop the bleeding? During an emergency situation, a basic first aid kit can be a lifesaver. However, a basic first aid kit is exactly for that: “First” aid. Basic kits are not intended for long-term care, nor are they designed to treat every injury or illness you may face.
So, here are a few questions to help you evaluate your current medical preparedness.
- Do you have a medical supply plan?
- Do you have a medical kit with enough supplies to treat every member of your family for minor injuries and illnesses?
- Do you have prescription medication requirements?
- Do you have antibiotics, pain relievers, and allergy medications?
- Do you have alcohol, peroxide, iodine or other wound cleansing items?
- Do you have a plan for long term medical care of injuries and illnesses if medical assistance is unavailable?
- Do you rotate your medical supplies, specifically medications, and are your supplies within their expiration date?
- Can you stop serious hemorrhaging?
The Basic First Aid Kit
With increased marketing efforts targeting the preparedness community, there are many different types of medical kits. Some are pocket sized, some mount on your wall, and some are designed for first responders and EMTs. Therefore, you will need to evaluate each kit to determine if it fits your individual needs. So let’s look at what a basic first aid kit should be able to accomplish:
- Cleanse wounds (towelettes, liquids)
- Stop bleeding
- Cover wounds to limit contaminants from entering the exposed area (gauze bandages, Band-Aids)
- Provide warmth and/or regulate body temperature (hypothermia - emergency blanket)
- Provide protection from fluid transfer (blood - gloves, CPR shield)
- Ability to remove clothing from injuries, while limiting the need to reposition a casualty (scissors).
- Resuscitation supplies (CPR shield, CPR mask, resuscitation bag, and/or airway)
- Ability to splint broken bones or restrict the casualty’s movement (splint, elastic wraps, or triangular bandages)
- Provide minor pain and allergy relief
If you do not have a medical kit, we recommend starting out with a kit designed to meet ANSI or OSHA standards. The medical ANSI/OSHA requirements set minimum “workplace” medical supply standards. For a family of four, it is recommended to purchase a kit that is designed to treat 20+ individuals. While these types of medical kits are not designed for long-term care or the treatment of serious injuries, they do provide a wide selection of items for minor ailments and injuries. Lastly, the ANSI/OSHA styled medical kits provide a baseline for your medical supplies preparedness, and do so at a decent price.
One important benefit of building your own kit, or supplementing an existing one, is that you understand your personal environment. For instance, someone that operates heavy machinery may require different medical items than say someone that is a school teacher. This is why basic first aid kits will not satisfy every individual’s medical requirements. Therefore, you should supplement your basic kit with additional medical supplies that factor in your unique environment, and the threats that come with it. So, let’s look at a few areas where most home and office kits are lacking.
First Aid Reference Manuals
Sanitation – Supplies to limit the spreading of bacteria and viruses
Medical preparedness should be near the top of your survival priorities, and having a basic first aid kit drastically increases your chances of survival. Ideally, you should include basic medical items across all levels of your survival plan; whether it is in your Get Home Bag, vehicle, home, or work. Realistically, a basic kit may not be adequate for all of your needs, especially if you have a large family, young children, special needs, or family members prone to injuries and illnesses. Therefore, evaluate your medical requirements, and ensure you have the appropriate amount and types of medical supplies that you and your family require.