(Here’s an article we wrote that was recently posted by our friends at Ready Nutrition, but is making its first appearance here)
As a retired physician and nurse team whose entire focus is figuring out strategies for survival situations, we are often asked what medical issues are the most likely to be encountered in times of trouble. The answer depends, somewhat, on what event you expect to throw society into disarray. Knowing what situations to prepare for and making provision for them will make you a more effective medical resource. You may even save a life or two.
Collapse Scenarios: Be Prepared
Are you expecting:
Economic Collapse? If some event causes us to collapse financially, it stands to reason that food from farm areas will cease to be delivered to supermarkets (who’s paying the truckers?). As such, you’ll be dealing with malnutrition among your people. Besides food storage, you should be stockpiling multivitamins (either commercial or natural) to prevent deficiencies that cause disease, such as Scurvy (lack of vitamin C), Beri-Beri (lack of vitamin B1) or Rickets (lack of Vitamin D in children).
Civil Unrest? Many collapse events will be fraught with episodes of civil unrest, so you should be well acquainted with how to deal with traumatic injuries such as fractures and hemorrhagic wounds. Supplies here will be lots and lots of gauze bandages (keep old sheets, they can be used to improvise), antiseptic solutions such as betadine, and some method of closing wounds (butterfly closures, Steri-strips, surgical or super glue, staples, and/or sutures) when appropriate.
You can expect that many wounds will be contaminated with dirt and debris, and therefore bacteria or other microorganisms. It is essential to know when to close a wound and when to leave it open; this is much more important to understand than how to throw a stitch or place a staple. The young Georgia woman in the news who had a laceration from a zipline injury had her wound closed with 22 staples. Doctors unwittingly sequestered bacteria deep in the injury that caused a serious infection called “necrotizing fasciitis”, costing her a leg and threatening her life.
Pandemics? If your area is invaded by a superflu, you will need plenty of extra masks (both N95 and standard) and gloves (nitrile is less allergenic than latex). You will have to know how to plan out a sick room protocol that will isolate the ill members of your group and you might consider antivirals like Tamiflu. Tamiflu is helpful in decreasing sick time if taken early, and may actually has a preventive effect. Be sure to ask your doctor for a prescription for each member of your family each flu season.
Radiation events? Meltdowns, dirty bombs, nuclear apocalypse, EMPs, Coronal Mass Ejections, whew! If this is something you’re concerned about, learn how to make a shelter in your home that will block radiation effects. Learn about “halving-thicknesses”, the thickness of a material that will decrease your exposure by half. These multiply as you add additional thicknesses of a substance (1/2 x ½ x ½ x ½ = 1/16 total exposure, for example). Here are the halving-thicknesses of various materials:
Lead: 0.4 inches or 1 centimeter
Steel: 1.0 inch or 2.5 centimeters
Concrete: 2.4 inches or 6 centimeters
Soil (packed): 3.6 inches or 9 centimeters
Water: 7.2 inches or 18 centimeters
Wood: 11.0 inches or 30 centimeters
Also, consider the accumulation of Potassium Iodide (KIO4) tablets. These will help prevent certain thyroid cancers which can be a long-term complication of radiation exposure.
You may ask, “How can I know what medical issues I’ll have to deal with if the you-know-what hasn’t hit the fan yet?”. Well, many physicians have found themselves in this circumstance and learned the hard way. Responders to the Haitian Earthquake, Peace Corps caregivers and Doctors Without Borders are just some of the medical personnel that have compiled this information for us. In no particular order, here is a top ten list from one physician that spent 15 months as the sole medical resource in a remote and austere location:
Minor Musculoskeletal injuries (sprains and strains)
Minor trauma (cuts, scrapes)
Minor infections (cellulitis, “pinkeye”, urinary infections)
Allergic reactions (some severe)
Respiratory infections (pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza, common colds)
Diarrheal disease (minor and major)
Dental issues (toothache, loose crowns and lost fillings)
Major traumatic injury (fractures, occasional knife and/or gunshot wounds)
Burn injuries (all degrees)
Pregnancy (!) and Birth Control
You may have thought of the top nine, but have you given some thought to number 10, pregnancy and birth control? Pregnancy is a natural process and usually ends with a healthy mother and baby, but not so long ago the announcement that someone was pregnant was met with concern as well as joy. Complications such as miscarriage, bleeding, and infection are easily dealt with in most cases today, but were a common cause of maternal deaths in the past. If modern medical care is unavailable, you may find yourself thrown back to that era. Consider birth control strategies such as the Rhythm Method and learn the basics of how to deliver a baby.
You’ll benefit from storing as many medical supplies as you can. How much is too much? You can NEVER have too many medical items in your preps; any “extras” you are willing to let go of will be extraordinarily valuable barter items in a collapse situation.
Accumulate stockpiles of antibiotics as well; these will deal with many of the listed issues above if they are used judiciously. My research shows that some aquarium antibiotics may be identical in dosage, action, appearance and even numbering as those stocked in human pharmacies, and may be purchased in quantity without a medical license from a number of online sources.
All of the above topics are discussed in detail for free on our website at www.doomandbloom.net and more so in our recent #1 Amazon Bestseller (Survival Skills Category) “The Survival Medicine Handbook”. It’s not your everyday first aid book, as its main assumption is that there are no longer hospitals, clinics or doctors, and that YOU are the end of the line when it comes to the medical well-being of your loved ones in times of trouble. You can find it at www.doomandbloom.net, and Amazon.
Remember, as you learn how to treat medical problems in hard times, you are learning a skill, not a trade. The practice of medicine or dentistry without a license is illegal and punishable by law. If modern medical care IS available, seek it out.