If you have been lucky enough to have never experienced surgery, a major injury, or illness then you may not understand the aspects of medical care. Bandages need to be changed regularly, some wounds are left open to drain, and injuries could take weeks to heal. If you get diarrhea, or worse dysentery, have an allergic reaction, run a high fever, would you have the medications to treat your illness. Do you have the knowledge to diagnose your symptoms or reference manuals to know how to properly bandage your wound or administer medications? What do you do if you cannot purchase medical supplies from your local pharmacy?
In the modern world, most of us simply go to a family doctor or hospital whenever medical assistance is needed. But, during a grid-down scenario, this will not likely be an option. Preppers have to learn how to diagnosis, treat, and manage medical issues on our own. I am not advocating that we need to be experts, but we do need to know the basic tasks, and more importantly have the required medical supplies.
A small first aid kit is exactly for that; “First” aid. They are not intended for long term care. The amount of required medical supplies increases for each new injury, and these requirements multiply rapidly if you suffer a significant illness or injury. The average post operation can exhaust dozens of gauze / bandages, multiple rolls of medical tape, and a cycle of antibiotics. Now multiply that requirement for every member of your family. Here are a few basic questions to help you evaluate your current medical preparedness.
- Do you have a medical plan for a Bug Out?
- Do you have a large medical kit with enough supplies to treat every member of your family/group?
- Do you have any 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?
- Do you rotate your medical supplies, specifically medications?
There are varying levels of medical kits. I group these kits into four categories: Personal Medical Kit, Short-Term Medical Kit, Long-Term Medical Kit, and Bulk Medical Storage.
Personal Medical Kit (PMK)
The Personal Medical Kit is intended for personal use. Each member of my family has a PMK in their Survival Bag, which consists of a small assortment of items that would be needed for wound management, basic medications and pain relievers, and any regional considerations. The PMK is designed to take up a minimal amount of space, and can fit inside a pocket.
Recommended Items: Alcohol Prep Pads, 2 | Triple Antibiotic Ointment, 2 | Band-Aid Assortment, 10 | Gauze, Sterile 2”x2”, 2 | Gauze, Sterile 4”x4”, 1 | Tape, 1” Roll | Butterfly Closure Strips, 1 Package (3 Total) | Allergy Medications, 5 | Diarrhea Medications, 5 | Pain / Fever Relievers, 5
Short-Term Medical Kit
The Short-Term Medical Kit (SMK) consists of a higher quantity of items located in the PMK, and also items needed for intermediate care. The SMK is designed to have a 3-7 day supply of items for your family, and focuses on extra bandages, medications, and specialized needs. For instance, you can have items to treat burns, skin irritations, and items to clean debris from wounds and your eyes.
Recommended Items: Povidone-Iodine Swabsticks, 8 | Alcohol Swabstick (3 Pack), 5 | Alcohol Prep Pad, 24 | Finger Splint, Sam Splint, 3 | Triple Antibiotic Ointment, 30 | Band-Aids (Assorted), 50 | Gauze Roll, Sterile 6", 2 | Gauze Roll, Sterile 4", 2 | Gauze, Sterile 4"x4", 7 | Cloth Tape, 3 Rolls | Butterfly Closure Strips, 10 Packages (30 Total) | Tweezers, 1 | Scissors, 1 | Forceps, Straight 5", 1 | Sodium Chloride Irrigation USP, 30 ml, 8 | Burn Dressing, 2"x6", 1 | Burn Dressing, 4"x4", 2 | Burn Dressing, 4"x16", 1 | Burn Jel, Individual, 5 | Ammonia Inhalant, 2 | Visine, 1 FL OZ, 2 | Hydrocortisone Cream 2 OZ, 1 | Pain / Fever Reliever (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen), 15 | Anti-Diarrheal, 175 | Exam Gloves, 10
Long-Term Medical Kit
The Long-Term Medical Kit (LMK) is located in your home. The LMK has enough items to treat every member in your family for at least a month. It can contain hundreds of bandages, several months of medications, and also more specialized supplies. You can have additional items to treat burns, conduct suturing, manage fractures and breaks, etc. The LMK also contains items that are not practical for everyday carry, and should be designed to supplement your PMK and SMK (contains similar items). More importantly, the LMK should be portable, meaning it can be put in your vehicle if you need to leave your home.
Specialized kits contain items that are designed to conduct a specific task. Examples of these kits include Suturing, Burns, Trauma, Dental, Birthing, and additional medical instruments. Let’s face it; not everyone will feel comfortable suturing a wound, therefore they will not buy suturing items. So instead of clouding the recommended items list with things you will not use, or feel comfortable using, we have separated these into their own distinct kits.
Bulk Medical Storage
The reality is; eventually you will exhaust your medical items in your PMK, SMK, and LMK. You will have to replace each item after it is used. So where are you going to get that replacement from during a collapse? The bulk medical storage category is all of your medical items that do not fit into a specific bag. Think about having your own medical supplies store in a closet. I use totes filled with medical supplies. It is recommended to focus on bandages (gauze / Band-Aids), cleansing items (alcohol, peroxide), and tape. For bandages, have several hundred of them. For Alcohol / Peroxide have gallons.
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed? Your priority is to build your PMK and SMK first. Next focus on your LMK. As you purchase items for these kits, you will also have overages, which can be put in your bulk medical storage container.
Be Prepared. Get Connected.
Please see the handout for recommended items and product links (located at the bottom of this article under attachments). Also included is an example pricing scenario, so you can see how much each kit costs to build. Compare building your own kits to buying a complete kit. Or, supplement your kit with items from the list. The choice is yours.