You’ve stockpiled supplies, generators, home defense weapons and ammunition. You’re prepared for the inevitable, for that watershed moment when Bieber takes over the world and unleashes his rabid army of undead tweeners upon us all. When this time comes you will be ready to fight them till your last breath. However, will you be ready to fight the internal battles that rage within your own body?
Disaster readiness not only requires prepping for events that happen to your physical surroundings, it also requires being prepared to handle the complex biological reactions that could ravage your body. Thanks to science, humans have been able to develop numerous varieties of drugs that help us maintain biological stability.
Hoard and Store
Though there are limitations and restrictions regarding what types of medicines can be stored, there are many key drugs that should be included in every simple survival kit or fully stocked fallout shelter. Like most things on this earth (with the possible exception of Twinkies), medicines are chemicals that degrade with time, temperature, humidity and light. So we must take into consideration how long these medicines can be stored, as expiration dates vary greatly with each individual drug.
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We also have to assume that the storage temperature for our stockpile will roughly remain around room temperature. While you should always be prepared for the possibility of a power outage, the loss of power during a disaster should be anticipated with greater reason. This means that cold storage of drugs is out of the question, which, sadly, also means you’ll be drinking your beer warm too. In general, the cooler the temperature, the longer most chemicals will stay stable, so storing your medicine stock below ground is optimal, in addition to giving your man cave more street cred. Keep medicine away from any heat sources such as fireplaces and furnaces or walls that become warm during the day. Another added bonus to storing your stash underground is the fact that you can easily keep it out of direct sunlight. Light causes the breakdown of chemical bonds and hastens the medication’s degradation process.
If underground concealment is not an option, you can store your items outside. Use a storage shed or any enclosed space that keeps the light out. If this is not possible, then a simple cardboard box or black bag can stop most of the damaging rays from the sun. As always with most perishable items, maintain a dry environment for your precious drugs. Moisture and high humidity will render the medicine useless in a short time period.
OTC, Easy as 1-2-3
The easiest and most abundant forms of medicine you can get are over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, which can be bought at local drug stores, retail stores and even discount dollar stores. Don’t be ashamed to gobble up all the medicine boxes at the dollar store; you can divert the money saved here straight to your guns and knives budget. Keep in mind that most OTC medicines will only treat the symptoms of an ailment and not serve as a real cure for the cause of the distress.
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Painkillers are an important part of any collection because they can be used in many situations, such as treating sprains, headaches and any injuries incurred in the field. There are three popular choices and having all three is ideal (nothing exceeds like excess). Ibuprofen is a very effective pain reliever and fever reducer. One of its strengths is that it’s anti-inflammatory, which comes in handy in sprains and other bodily injuries. Ibuprofen regularly comes in 200 mg doses, and you shouldn’t take any more than 800 mg within a 24-hour period. You can use acetaminophen as a pain reliever and fever reducer, although not as an anti-inflammatory treatment. It comes in 325 mg doses in the U.S.
Lastly, aspirin, which usually comes in 325 mg dosage in the U.S., has been around the longest of the three. It relieves aches and pains, reduces fevers and is also an anti-inflammatory drug. Aspirin’s blood-thinning properties make it an important drug in the treatment of people with coronary heart disease. Because of this, immediate ingestion of aspirin during a heart attack can be beneficial until help arrives. Also for those with a strong history of heart disease, a small daily dose of 81 mg (baby aspirin) will help reduce your blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of another heart injury. Like any other blood thinner, do not take aspirin if you have any open wounds that are bleeding, because it will prevent the wound from clotting quickly.
Aspirin’s active ingredient, salicylic acid, was discovered in 1763 from the bark of the willow tree. For this reason you can make an unprocessed dilute form of aspirin by boiling the bark of a willow tree in water and then passing that water through a sieve or coffee filter to make “willow tea.” Beware: Too much salicylic acid can be dangerous, so drink this willow tea in moderation and only when needed.
Sneeze Twice for Yes
Another bothersome problem for many is allergies, especially in seasons where pollen or dust is abundant. Though there is no cure for allergies, drug companies have made several different types of medication available for the relief of their symptoms.
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One type of allergy medicine, called antihistamine, blocks the function of histamines in your body. Histamines cause the itching, redness, and swelling typically associated with an allergic reaction. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a popular medicine but is known to cause drowsiness, so do not pair it with a glass of Chianti while operating heavy machinery.
Other allergy medications available OTC, such as Cetirizine (Zyrtec), Fexofenadine (Allegra) and Loratadine (Claritin), are effective and do not cause drowsiness (allowing you to operate heavy machinery). Every individual will react differently to these medicines, so if you are prone to allergies and seek relief, testing each drug out to see which is most effective for you is a good idea.
Make a Runs for It
Through the natural course of living, our constant exposure to microbes in our food and water supply can cause stomachaches and diarrhea. Diarrhea can cause severe dehydration and when left untreated, it can be life threatening. There are two types of OTC remedies that can alleviate this nasty ailment. Loperamide (Imodium) decreases the activity of your large intestine, which in turn slows down the fecal matter in the intestine, allowing more water absorption by your body. Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) is another effective anti-diarrhea medicine, although its mechanism is not yet fully understood.
There are also several non-OTC medicines that you’ll want a supply of that require a doctor’s prescription to purchase. The most important prescription medicines that can save your life in the event of a catastrophe are antibiotics. Their healing properties are outstanding, and no true prepper should be left without antibiotics in their stockpile. You might be asking, “How do I obtain antibiotics for my collection without a prescription?” and the answer might be swimming in the aquarium right next to you.
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When your little goldfish gets sick, you put antibiotics in its water to make it well. The same type of antibiotic that can help your fish can help you too. Legally, acquiring antibiotics made for human consumption requires a prescription from a medical doctor, but what’s a prepper to do if you cannot get a prescription but need to stock antibiotics? Simply let your fingers do the walking and check out the many stores that sell fish antibiotics on the Internet.
Regular consumers can purchase antibiotics for all types of different animals without a prescription. If taking a drug made for a different species from yourself has you concerned, you needn’t worry. You’ll be glad to know that several companies that make human antibiotics also manufacture pet antibiotics. Some of the human and animal pills even look identical to one another with the same numbering on each pill. This evidence is not 100 percent conclusive that both of these antibiotics are the same, but you can make your own educated judgment on this one when prepping for SHTF events. As always, do your research before attempting to take any medications you are unfamiliar with.Because of the large numbers of bacteria species, a single type of antibiotic will not be sufficient to kill them all. It is important to select several different types of antibiotics that cover the gamut of bacteria, and these selections need to overlap to ensure you have the widest coverage possible. We’ve even included a handy table to serve as a guide. You can thank us later.
Dare to Say No
Antibiotics are intended as a last line of defense in treating infections and should not be taken liberally. If the situation calls for antibiotics and you do not have access to a doctor, you must make the best guess at which type of infection you have based on the symptoms.
Using the wrong antibiotic on a misdiagnosis can backfire by possibly killing off nonthreatening strains of bacteria while allowing the lethal strains to thrive. Because of the overuse of antibiotics, potentially deadly strains of antibiotic- resistant bacteria have developed throughout the world. Pay close attention to the dosage and length of each antibiotic treatment needed. Make a list or write the dosage on a sticker and place it on your stockpile.
Before you start buying all the available OTC drugs and raid the pet stores for their antibiotics, it is crucial to make sure you are not allergic to any of these drugs. You might want to consult a physician to test you and your family’s drug allergies before you invest any more money on your stockpile. Take note that most drug allergies will not manifest themselves until the second time you take the drugs.
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Understanding your body and the particular ailments that it tends to react badly to can help you select the correct type and amount of medicine you will need to maintain in your inventory. When properly used, medicines can restore the balance in your body to keep you alert and ready to face whatever Mother Nature throws at you – or the horde of Beliebers gathered at your front door.
Disclaimer: The information and imagery contained in this article is for reference only. Over-the-counter and alternatives to prescription drugs should be discussed with a licensed medical professional before administration. Consult your doctor before taking any alternatives to prescription medicines.
This article was originally published in BALLISTIC™ Summer 2015 magazine. Print Subscriptions are available here.