First aid kits can be small enough to fit into your purse, or large enough to fill a big toolbox. When deciding what you should have in your first aid kit, you should include over the counter (OTC) medicines that will cover most ailments. These medicines will also be the first to disappear from the store shelves. Here are 10 OTC medicines that everyone should have in their emergency supplies, everyday carry, and bug out bags.
First and foremost, there should be both adult and children’s (think chewable!) aspirin in your bag. The pain relief aside, this is excellent for fever reduction, muscle aches, toothaches, common cold, headaches, and thinning the blood. Aspirin (NOT acetaminophen) helping someone recover from a heart attack or prevent future ones! Acetaminophen is inexpensive and is considered the most successful non-prescription medication in history.
Also good for pain relief and reducing inflammation and swelling due to menstrual cycles, arthritis or other pain caused by inflammation. It is a fever reducer much like acetaminophen but some can tolerate ibuprofen better. Ibuprofen also helps headaches and pain due to the flu and cold. Since aspirin is not recommended for children under 12 (unless instructed by a doctor), acetaminophen should be included with pain relievers. Dosage is based on the child’s weight. This article provides in-depth information about the types of painkillers to include in your emergency kits and prepping supplies.
In a SHTF situation, people will still get gassy tummies or a lot of acid build-up due to stress and lack of food. Antacids will help with the discomfort and slow damage done to the stomach and the esophagus. Ulcers are sure to form and for those who already have them, they will quickly run out of their prescriptions. Examples for stocking up are Tums, Alka-Seltzer, and Rolaids.
4. Antihistamines and Anti-allergens
Allergies will be even worse after SHTF. People will have to be outside more, if for no other reason than to gather, hunt, and grow food. Without electricity, staying inside may become unbearable in hot weather. For those in rural areas, once the prescriptions run out, all that will be left are things like Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec. Antihistamines help with the reduction of swelling in the sinuses and assist with overall allergens by blocking the histamines that cause the symptoms. If someone has a severe allergy, remember to include an epi-pen.
5. Bismuth Subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
Also known as pink bismuth, this time-tested medicine covers many digestive system issues. Indigestion, nausea, heartburn, gas symptoms and diarrhea are just some of the symptoms this medicine helps relieve. Diarrhea can kill if not taken care of, and one of the most important reasons for having something on hand is to keep yourself hydrated to make up for what you lose. Thankfully, this now comes in a convenient chewable pill form and is easy to carry with you.
6. Cough/Mucus Control
Sinus infections, influenza, allergies, damp conditions, and exposure can lead to being stuffed up, unable to breathe or get the gunk out. Coming in both pill and liquid forms, this medicine has saved many people from a doctor visit (and bill). Other than providing relief for the ones who are ill, it can also help protect those who are not. If those who are sick are coughing a lot, the sickness has a better chance to spread. There are 2 different OTC cough medicines- antitussives and expectorants. Antitussives are a cough suppressant. They block the cough reflex. Some of these are – Triaminic Cold and Cough, Vicks 44 Cold and Cough and Robitussin Cough. The expectorant thins the mucus and helps makes it easier to clear when you cough. Some of these are – Mucinex and Robitussin Chest Congestion.
No one wants to think about this, but you will be eternally grateful for the little pill or chew that will relieve discomfort. When in an emergency situation occurs, what kinds of foods and how much or how often can result in constipation. If left untreated, constipation can kill. There are 2 types of laxatives- one draws liquid into the colon and makes it easier to pass waste. These would be Milk of Magnesia, Miralax, Metamucil, Benefiber, and any stool softener. The other type of laxative causes intestinal muscles to contract and help with elimination. These medicines are sold as Dulcolax and Senokot. They can also be taken as a suppository.
8. Sleep Aides
In any major upset in your life, sleepless nights are often a side effect of the stress. Many people have trouble with, “turning their brain off,” so they can sleep. I would imagine that cases of insomnia will rise exponentially and in a post-disaster scenario, sleep will be more important than ever before. Your ability to make decisions and good judgments will be hindered by a prolonged lack of sleep. A sedating antihistamine is what you see in most OTC medicine. The name brand of these is Benadryl, Aleve PM and Unisom Sleep Tabs. Also consider natural remedies, such as Melatonin, Valerian or lavender essential oil lavender.
9. Saline Spray/Solution
Saline solution is another wonderful thing to have with you. Even a small bottle could save someone from infections or aid in another way. They are sold as a decongestant, saltwater solution or steroid. I am all for having versatile resources that have more than one use. Saline solution can help with wound irrigation, eye and sinus flushing, and of course cleaning your contact lenses. Some studies show that saline restores moisture to dry nasal passages and sinuses, and curbs inflammation of mucous membranes.
SO MANY people overlook simple vitamins when talking about medicinal items to store and carry for emergencies. In my opinion, vitamins are more important than any of the other things listed here. In a post-disaster scenario, everyone who did not prepare will be suffering from a ‘lack.’ A lack of food, perhaps clean water, sanitation, and assuredly a vitamin deficiency will be all too common.
Your body needs vitamins and minerals to function normally. Your immune system will be fighting off bacteria and viruses at a higher rate, particularly in urban settings, and will need extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help with the process. When it finds none, it will attack the muscles or other organs to get what it needs.
All of the above are easily bought over the counter without a prescription. Before you go out on a buying spree, though, take a look at your medicine cabinet and pull out all of the stuff stashed in there. Check expiration dates and keep them rotated. Here are a few more handy OTC meds/remedies to have on hand.
- Mineral Oil
- Epsom’s Salts
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Witch Hazel
- Contact Lens Solution
- Nasal Spray, Afrin,
- Primatene Mist
- Fiber like Metamucil & Benefiber
- A hoard of organic-natural (i.e. never “Centrum”!) multi/B-vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Mag Citrate
Also, consider those who may be coming to you for help and if you are able to, buy a little extra for trade or barter. A bottle of 500 ibuprofen pills is small and easy to pack, not to mention worth a small fortune in a post-disaster situation. NOW is the time to get this checked off your preparedness list when you can consider things in a calm and logical manner.
LeAnn in Alaska
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