(Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones says: We support the efforts of aspiring writers in survival medicine, and you’ll occasionally see a guest post on our website. This time, our guest author is Cory Thomas, editor at survivethewild.net. His article relates to preppers’ options with regards to their meds in a survival setting. Guest posts are the opinions of their authors and not necessarily that of Doom and Bloom.)
When preparing for an emergency, you immediately think to store food and water. You may consider different routes to a bug-out location or whether you should carry a weapon. But what about the things you depend on someone else to give you, like prescription drugs? If your doctor is unavailable, if you’re in an unusual location, if your town and its pharmacies are flooded, or if the economy has tanked and money doesn’t mean what it used to, having a supply of prescription drugs or drug alternatives will be paramount. It won’t matter if you have three months’ food supply if you don’t have necessary insulin or heart medication to keep you alive along enough to eat it. Here are some ways to avoid trouble in the event of an emergency or event:
Go Off Your Meds
Not possible in all scenarios, stopping medication is sometimes a viable option. While medications may sustain life, others make life easier. One person may be able to go without anti-anxiety medication and still make it through while another needs the medication for survival. Some pain medications may fall into this category as well. If you choose to stop using any medication, know the procedure in advance. Some medications can cause your condition to worsen if stopped suddenly.
Use Your Three-Month Plan
Many insurance companies offer a mail-order plan allowing you to get three months’ worth of prescriptions at once. Of course, as you near the end of those three months, your stockpile will dwindle, but it’s an easy way to get started.
Ask Your Doctor
Depending on your doctor’s attitude towards prepping, timing can be everything here. It may be best to ask your doctor if she has samples so you aren’t without medication immediately prior to hurricane season or if you may get snowed in over the winter. There’s no need to mislead your doctor, but it is good to have a specific concern. Let her know that you are stocking your emergency supplies and would like to include necessary prescriptions. If samples are unavailable, consider asking for an extra month’s prescription. You may not be able to bill it through insurance, but you’ll know you have it. Over time, you’ll be able to build up a decent supply of medicine.
Maintenance and Storage
If you’re sheltering in place, you’ll have your medicines with you, but should take extra care in storing them. Most tablets and capsules should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place, and if you’re without your usual heating and cooling system, you’ll need to ensure they’re safe. A dry basement or root cellar may be an ideal location, but an interior closet can be utilized as well.
Some medications require refrigeration, so make sure you have a generator or other power source available to keep these medications cool. A dorm-sized refrigerator takes less power to run than your normal fridge, so consider getting one to store your stockpile as well as for use during an outage.
If you have to leave your home, be prepared to take your medication with you. Maintain all of your medication with its proper labeling in the event you are stopped or questioned. You should also have copies of recent medical records which will provide evidence that you’re not doing something nefarious with the drugs. Keep shelf-stable medications in the coolest space available in your vehicle while traveling, and take care to store them properly once you are at your destination.
If you must travel with refrigerated medications, have an appropriately-sized cooler prepared and necessary ice packs ready at all times. It is best not to keep your medication and food in the same cooler if possible, to avoid cross-contamination in case of breakage or leaks. Consider a cooler that will plug into your vehicle’s charger, particularly for longer journeys, and ensure that your destination has available refrigeration. Transfer medications to standard refrigeration as soon as possible.
Rotate Your Stock
This is vital for prescription medications, which may not show their age like food does. The tablet may look the same, but if it’s out of date it could have unexpected results. If you’ve gotten samples, go ahead and take them, allowing your regular prescription to become your stockpile. Every time you refill the prescription, take the medicine from your stockpile and replace it with the new stock.
Know Your Options
Plants Are Your Friends
Find a naturalist or herbalist to help you find ways to treat your condition without prescriptions. Not all conditions can be resolved naturally, but knowing what you can do before emergency strikes is important. Essential oils of bergamot and cinnamon may help to lower blood sugar, allowing some diabetics to reduce the amount of insulin needed. Hibiscus tea can be used to treat moderate cases of high blood pressure. Aromatherapy and meditation can do wonders for anxiety and depression. Work with these things while you have prescriptions available and can do the proper testing so you are never over-medicated or without a back-up while you figure out what works. Remember that when you don’t have a steady supply of medication, using natural methods to simply decrease your dose may be as helpful as having a greater supply.
Alternative treatments beyond herbs or oils may also be helpful. Talk to a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other alternative therapist for suggestions. Research therapies online or at the library. Learn to do what you can on your own, whether that means taking some online classes or just figuring out how to use a manual blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometer). Again, this is best accomplished ahead of time when you have more options available.
Prepping with prescriptions doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can take time and attention to detail. Planning now may save your life, or just make it a little easier if disaster strikes.