Day 22 – National Preparedness Month Challenge- Medical Supplies and Home Health Preparedness
By Tyra Baird (many thanks to Susanne T. for her wisdom and experience)
So I’m not a nurse, but I play one in real life. As a mom I’m the first responder for every puke, cold, headache, and boo boos. What I know and how I react can make a big difference to my little trusting patients. (We’ll cover medical know how in October.) It also can save their lives. It’s important to know what you’re doing and how to treat a medical problem when it arises. It’s also important to know when to let it ride and when to get help. However, even the world’s greatest doctor is useless if they don’t have the correct supplies. So today we are going to stock your medicine cabinet for home health and medical emergencies, big and small. This is more long term storage and is geared more towards pandemics and shelter in place situations instead of the more average portable variety discussed in Day 5 – First Aid Kit Inventory.
Time to see how well you’re doing and what you still need.
More people will die from infection than from wounds after a disaster. Most of us keep rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide in our cabinets, but few of us know that there are better cleansers available.
- Chlorhexidine gluconate 4% – antiseptic OTC hibiclens
These over the counter cleansers (found at most pharmacy) are used by medical professionals regularly and should be given a rightful place in our cabinets. They are for mainly for cleaning wounds and kill the bacteria that often mutates along with the ones that cause the worst infections. Include cotton balls and q-tips with your cleansers. Be sure they’re kept in air tight containers or bags to keep them as sterile as possible.
Epsom salt is another must for you cabinet. This is a soaking agent that can help with infections and sprains.
Last fall my daughter had a really bad cold, and like any well meaning mother I gave her the usual cold medicine. Then I realized she had a fever – of 103’! I had given her a combination cold medicine, with Tylenol in it, which isn’t enough to reduce a fever. And I couldn’t give her any more Tylenol with out putting her at serious risk. What did the doctor at ER tell me when I couldn’t break her fever – NEVER use medicine for multiple symptoms. ALWAYS treat each symptom individually. This also prevents giving your body medicine that it doesn’t really need, which isn’t good for it anyhow. So what are the essential medicines for your cabinet. Be sure to have both adult, children, and infant varieties as needed for your family (or neighborhood). Remember proper dosing is just as important as what you take!
- Ibuprofen (motrin) – Anti-inflammatory – best for pain and swelling.
- Tylenol (acetaminophen)– best for fever
- These two work best together, especially for fevers as a fever involves both swelling and ___. Alternating doses between the two will have the maximum benefit.
- Benadryl (Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride) – the go to for allergic reactions of all kind, from hay fever to stings and food. It can also be used to help with headaches and migraines. As an anti histamine it also helps to dry out mucus when used for colds.
- Psuedoephedrine Hydrochloride (Sudafed) – (Phenylephrine HCI in states where the original is only available by prescription) Nose and sinus issues. Dust and debris from a disaster will increase risk of sinus problems, so have some on hand
- Vicks Vapor Rub – its best to avoid medication if you can help it and this will give the best relief possible for a cold while your body fights it off.
- Imodium A-D – diarrhea is a common symptom of trauma and stress. Also a buddy of unclean water and food which will be more likely after a disaster
- Tums/Rolaids – these are good for stomach and heartburn issues, and the calcium in Tums can replace milk consumption, and the magnesium can help with muscle cramps
- Miralax – laxative for constipation (stomach issues are a part of stress and trauma, and a common side effect when you’re uncomfortable using “primitive” bathroom facilities)
- Guaifenesin (Mucinex) – Expectorant – for coughs and mucus – this is the best in preventing pneumonia.
- Old meds and prescriptions – keep on hand for emergencies, even if they lose their potency something is better than nothing. Especially for antibiotics and those medications that can be life sustaining for certain conditions. Even if you don’t use them someone else may need them. Check prescriptions for expirations and special instructions, keep them with the bottle.
- Over the counter pink-eye and ear infection drops – these are often linked to sinus issues so you should treat for both. As long as the infected are isn’t touched the medicine is still good.
- Antifungal – Tinactin (Tolnaftate) – a good multiuse antifungal (if prone to yeast infections keep Monistat on hand)
- Alka Seltzer – good for stomach issues and colds
- Hydrocortisone cream 1% – great for pretty much everything
A good rule of thumb for any medicines that you add to your cabinet is how many uses it has. The more you can use it to treat different ailments the better. It saves space and money. Since its cold and flu season coming, keep a tally of how much medicine you go through so you know how much you need to have on hand for an emergency.
Keep Your Supplies Well Stocked
We’re all hopefully pretty good at keeping the band aids well stocked (unless you have kids). But there are still plenty of other medical supplies that you need outside of the good old band aid.
- Oral gel
- Lidocaine spray (best)
- Duct tape – when used with cotton balls it’s an instant band aid
- Super glue/liquid band aid – good for deep cuts and heaving bleeding in an emergency
- Bacitracin – now preferred over Neosporin by most doctors
- Vitamin E oil – great for burns and stings (use like hydrocortisone cream)
- Pedialyte and Gatorade – dehydration due to stomach issues or heat issues are the biggest ailments in ER and after disasters. These are the most important tools for rehydration.
- Clean water – even if you have some stored for drinking and such have some that stays with your first aid supplies so you know its clean and available.
- Bag balm – use for re-hydrating skin and sealing cracks to prevent infection
- Cough drops and throat lozenges – my favorite is the fisher man’s friend, its strong but works great. But keep some halls on hand too.
- Airborne/Emergen-C – these do help keep colds and sickness to a minimal in duration, frequency and severity.
- Band aids– regular no ointment added, be sure latex sensitivities are taken into account
- Ace bandage
- Masks – N95 (best for air quality issues) – be sure the mask fits
- Test masks by having someone spray perfume close by, if you can taste or smell it than the mask is not fitting properly and the particles are still getting in.
- Non-latex gloves
- Lots of gauze
- Needle and thread – and a strong stomach if you have to do stitches yourself
- Butterfly bandages – best for cuts that should or could be stitched. When used with superglue they can substitute for stitches.
- Candy – sooth patients, help for diabetics, peppermint for upset stomach, chocolate for minor headaches
- Vinegar – for sunburns, and vaginitis (use in for sitz baths)
- Stickers – for kids to help calm them, just like the doctor’s office
- Popsicle sticks – splints, tongue depressors, etc.
- Saline solution – (contacts works) for flushing sinus’s and eyes
- Sinus flushing kits – hospitals give these to their employees!
- Scrap fabric – making extra bandages, slings, etc
- Scissors – sharp! Think fabric scissors, these can be fore cutting bandages to doubling as a knife
- Lighter or matches – sterilizing equipment
- Small flashlight – for looking in throats and eyes (pay attention the next time to go in for a doctor’s visit and pick their brain for what to look for)
- Aloe – keep a plant growing in your home for ready use
Please feel free to comment on any home remedies that have become a permanent part of your medicine cabinet.
- Garlic oil capsule – a natural antibiotic, I use this for ear infections as soon as there’s any discomfort and our family has rarely had to use antibiotics to treat an ear infection
- Cranberry pills – if prone to urinary tract and yeast infections
- Herbal teas
- Black tea – brew and use tea to draw out heat form sunburns (not as a drink)
- Chamomile tea – cold and flu
- Lemon tea – sore throats, if used with honey is helps coat the throat for greater comfort
- Peppermint or ginger tea – for stomach issues
Not everything will fit in one cabinet, but everything should be in your house and accessible. Remember child safety is important when putting things away. Put as many barriers as possible between curious hands and your medicines as possible. Lastly keep your medical reference folder close to your medical supplies.
Today’s Challenge: Stock your medicine cabinet
Good: Print off the charts and information for a handy reference folder. Make a list of your family’s medical tendencies and conditions so you can stock accordingly.
Better: inventory your cabinet of supplies and figure out what you need to improve your mini hospital. Ask your doctor or advice nurse what you can keep on hand for those issues your family is more prone to. Add these to your list of supplies and your cabinet.
Best: Get everything together and in order for a fully stock medicine cabinet that is ready for any emergency.