Large-scale disasters present a lot of big and scary dangers that get plenty of attention in the survival community: riots, gangs of looters, mass starvation, collapsing buildings, and so forth. However, the number one killer that comes with almost every type of disaster is something so small you need a microscope to see it. I’m talking about infections.
For most of human history, bacterial infections and diseases were the number one killer year after year, regardless of whether there was a major disaster in progress. Then along came the invention of antibiotics, and the lethality of infections across the board was all but eliminated.
Today, most everyone in the hospital is on some form of antibiotics. Many diseases are treated with antibiotics, and even minor cuts are sterilized with antibiotic cream.
In a scenario where antibiotics are no longer available, the situation will take a turn for the worse very quickly. Suddenly, diseases and injuries that were once a minor inconvenience will become life-threatening, and infection will once again be one of the primary killers in the world.
The Catch-22 of Fighting Infections in a Post-Disaster World
In an SHTF scenario, the lack of antibiotics presents a major dilemma. With enough time and money, the number of things you can stock up on to survive a disaster is almost limitless. Should you feel the need, you can build a nuclear bunker outfitted with enough food to feed an army and enough guns to arm one. However, even with all the money in the world, you can’t legally stock up on prescription antibiotics.
To make this dilemma even more challenging, the need for antibiotics after a disaster will become even more apparent. Without antibiotics, more people will get sick, and more people who are sick means more carriers for serious diseases.
Add to this all the other disaster-related problems such as lack sanitation, lack of clean drinking water, and increased likelihood of minor injuries, and you’ve got a world where avoiding an infection becomes just as difficult as treating one.
All of this is to warn you that if you don’t have a plan for dealing with infections should the day come when prescription antibiotics are no longer available, a disease that once could have been cured with a few pills may end up taking your life.
How to Deal with Infections Without Prescription Antibiotics
Surviving in a world where infections are increasingly common and treating them with prescription antibiotics is no longer an option will be a constant uphill battle. However, there are things you can do survive this dilemma. Here are a few strategies to help you prepare for a world without prescription antibiotics.
Find a Doctor who is Also a Prepper
If you can find a doctor who understands the importance of prepping for a disaster, he or she may be willing to write you a prescription for certain antibiotics. However, you would need to store them properly, make sure you understand when and how to use them, only use them in an emergency, and throw them out when they expire.
Here’s a list of survival antibiotics you may want to ask for.
Stock up on Herbal and Over-the-Counter Remedies
Prescription antibiotics may be the most effective way to deal with infections, but there are many herbal remedies that make for a close second. These herbal alternatives to antibiotics can be very effective, and you can stockpile as much as you want.
Over-the-counter medications such as antibiotic cream fall into the same category since they too can be purchased in bulk. In short, if there’s a treatment for infections that you can legally buy in bulk, whether it be a natural remedy or an over-the-counter remedy, you should start stockpiling it.
Treat Minor Injuries and Illnesses Seriously
In the modern age, we aren’t used to treating minor injuries and illnesses with the precaution that they once demanded. After all, if a small cut becomes infected or a minor illness turns into a serious one, prescription antibiotics to cure the problem are just a doctor visit away.
In a scenario where these antibiotics are no longer available, every injury and illness should be treated seriously. If you suffer a cut or puncture wound, no matter how small it is, wash it, disinfect it, treat it with antibiotic cream, and bandage it.
Likewise, do your best to stay away from people who may be contagious, no matter how minor their illness may seem. And if you come down with an illness yourself, starting treating it any way you can right away.
Without antibiotics, every injury and every illness has the potential to be life-threatening and should therefore be treated with the utmost precaution.
Understand the Importance of Sanitation
Throughout history, poor sanitation has been one of the primary drivers of disease and infection. Today, in our sterile world of indoor plumbing and water treatment plants, proper sanitation is something we take for granted.
Without all of these conveniences, though, it’s important to carefully mind your sanitation practices. Stock up on hygiene products and sanitation supplies such as bleach, antibacterial wipes, and antibacterial soap, and use these products liberally to keep yourself and the environment you live in as sanitized as possible.
If you no longer have running water, come up with a system for disposing of your waste in a sanitary manner. As for the water you drink, invest some water purification methods and/or boil your water beforehand.
All of these sanitation practices can help you prevent disease and infection, and in a world without antibiotics, prevention is much better than treatment.
Infection is the unseen killer that goes along with any disaster serious enough to stop the production and/or distribution of prescription antibiotics. While fighting infections in a world without antibiotics is certainly a dangerous challenge, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.
With the right precautions, you may be able to avoid most diseases and infections altogether. In the event that you do come down with an infection, herbal remedies and over-the-counter treatments may be able to keep it from becoming life-threatening.
It’s important, though, to realize the threat that infections present and begin preparing now to deal with them should the SHTF. If you wait until after a major disaster to worry about the threat of infections, it may be too late.