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Next to food, water, and shelter, nothing is more important in a survival situation than medical supplies. Without the right supplies, diseases and injuries that would normally be completely treatable could be a death sentence. Unfortunately, many first aid supplies such as medication and bandages are not reusable, meaning you will want to have ample stocks of these crucial items.
In preparing for the worst, here are the top 11 first aid supplies you should have in abundance.
1. Adhesive Bandages in Assorted Sizes
The quickest way to stop the bleeding on a minor injury is with an adhesive bandage, and chances are in a disaster situation you will go through them fast. While an adhesive bandage isn’t going to be enough to keep you from bleeding out if you have sustained a major injury, they are enough to help keep minor injuries from getting infected, which can be a lifesaver in its own right. Stock up on assorted sizes of adhesive bandages so you’ll be covered for a wide range of cuts, scrapes, and other open wounds.
Aspirin is one of several non-drowsy pain relievers that will work well enough to relieve pain while still letting you keep your wits about you. The reason that aspirin gets the nod over other pain relievers such as ibuprofen is the fact that it can also buy you some time in the event of a heart attack. Stock up on bulk aspirin as your go-to pain reliever in disaster scenarios.
3. Rolls of Gauze
For more serious injuries, you will want to use a roll of gauze rather than an adhesive bandage. Rolls of gauze are great for stopping bleeding and can be unspooled and applied to wounds most anywhere on the body. They’re a versatile way to keep bleeding at a minimum and can be used or any number of wounds, meaning you will likely go through them fast.
4. Rubber Gloves
In a post-disaster world, you may have to play the role of doctor for your loved ones, and this is a role that requires precaution. To reduce the risk of you yourself contracting whatever illness the person you are treating has, you will want to have an ample supply of rubber gloves available.
5. Allergy Medicine
When you think of the diseases and injuries most likely to trip you up in a post-disaster situation, allergies probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Nevertheless, severe allergies can be a debilitating distraction that at best will make your life miserable and at worst end up causing you to make a mistake that costs you your life. This is compounded by the fact that you will likely be spending more time outdoors and in the elements when the SHTF than you normally would, and therefore allergies may become much more of a problem than they were before. Better to stock up on allergy pills and prevent the misery.
Feminine hygiene is still going to be important post-apocalypse. Yet beyond this, tampons have a number of other life-saving uses. They will make a great barter item, they can be used on minor cuts and nosebleeds, and they keep even be used to prevent bleeding out if you have suffered a gunshot wound—something that becomes a lot more likely once the SHTF. However, tampons should only be used for serious bleeding if there’s absolutely no other alternative as they can only absorb such much. Still, tampons are worth stocking up on, especially if there are women in your group or family.
7. Antibiotic Cream
Without medical attention, infections can be life threatening. People used to die all the time from the smallest cuts and scrapes just because they got infected, and in a post-disaster world this could very easily become the case again. To keep the threat of infection to a minimum and soothe the pain from the many small cuts and scrapes you will likely have to put up with when fighting for your life, stock up on antibiotic cream.
We hope you’re not squeamish because a disaster scenario may require you to perform a few minor (or not so minor) surgeries on yourself and the people whose lives are entrusted to you. To do this, though, you will need to thoroughly disinfect your instruments beforehand. Disinfectants such as rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are both relatively affordable and work great as disinfectants. They can also be poured directly onto a wound that is too large to disinfect with antibiotic cream, but, again, we hope you’re not squeamish.
9. Anti-Diarrheal Medication
What people in first-world countries consider an inconvenience is one of the leading causes of death in undeveloped countries. Without treatment and an ample supply of fresh water, diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration and death. Avoid dying in a post-disaster world in one of the most embarrassing ways possible and stock up on anti-diarrheal medication.
10. Natural and Over-the-Counter Alternatives for Prescription Medications
Stocking up on prescription medications is a challenge (read: illegal). Yet if you are dependent on them it can be a real concern when preparing for a time when you might no longer have access to them. At this point, robbing a drug store may be your only hope, but that’s a risky proposal at best. A better alternative is to research natural and over-the-counter substitutions for your prescription meds and stock up on those. Depending on your condition and the medication you are taking for it, there may be alternatives that you could get by on if your life depended on it. At least until you hatch a good plan for robbing that drug store.
Also known as a pandemic mask, respirators could be a lifesaver should the disaster that strikes be of the plague variety. Even if you aren’t faced with a situation where a virus or biological weapon is killing off people in droves, respirators, much like rubber gloves, are great to have if you are forced to play the role of doctor for those who have come down with an illness. These masks are nothing if not affordable, so better to stock up on plenty and not have to worry about running out.