A Prescription for Disaster

Stocking up on prescription meds can be lifesaving.

If there’s anything I don’t want to be out of during an emergency situation, it would be my prescriptions.  First of all, I would have an extremely difficult time getting to the store for a last ditch run on groceries, batteries and all that stuff that empties off the shelves in a red hot flash during an impending disaster.  Finding time to stand in line at the prescription counter would be unlikely.  Since my 72 hour kit is in place with the recommended supplies of food, water, heat, light, shelter, etc., the next logical thing would be the items that would prolong my life – my prescription medications.  I once went for a couple of days without them to see what would happen.  I was feeling very ill by the middle of the first day.  I can’t imagine what it might be like for someone with diabetes or other immediate life threatening condition.

What I had to do was stock up on the meds so I would have enough to last until I could get more no matter what the emergency may bring.  Some people explain this plan to their doctor and ask for an additional month of medication to squirrel away.  My doctor declined claiming he didn’t feel comfortable doing that.  At the time, I was working and had insurance that covered a percentage of my meds.  I ran my plan by the pharmacist and he said I could either pay cash for my medications and get more than a month’s worth at a time, or I could call up to five days ahead of the refill date and each month set aside the five pills.  I chose the second option.  Six months later, I had 30 days worth saved up.  If you use this method, be sure to rotate your stash and use the oldest first so they stay fresh and potent and don’t expire.  I now keep five days worth in my 72 hour kit, five in my comprehensive medical kit, five in my emergency car kit, five in my purse and five in my extended two week emergency bag.  I should have medications available for any contingency.  The meds need to be stored in the original prescription bottles so they remain legal to carry around.  I also keep a couple of sets of prescription receipts in my wallet and kit in case I am able to get refills during a difficult time.  Once, when I went to the emergency room, my family found the receipts and told the doctors what medications I was taking.  This helped speed up my treatment.

Sometimes the emergency situation is economic.  I always ask my doctor to prescribe generic medications which are cheaper.  When I retired with a disability, my income stopped abruptly and I didn’t know when I was going to get another check from disability or some other source.  I was glad for the few months of medications I had stocked up.  The doctor’s helped by giving me samples, but they would only do it for a couple of months.  After doing a little research, I also found that many of the pharmaceutical companies have an indigent program for free medications.  I used this method until my disability checks kicked in.

Other stuff I like to keep plenty of in stock are over the counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofin, tylenol, antidiahrreal medicine, allergy meds, cold and cough medicines, vitamins and a variety of stuff for stomach ailment.   I use coupons and buy them on sale.  Whenever friends or family make a trip to Mexico, I ask them to pick up antibiotics so I have a nice variety in stock in case I get ill and a doctor isn’t available to prescribe them for me and my family.  You don’t need a prescription in Mexico and they are way cheaper.  Before I was able to get antibiotics from Mexico, I ordered a small selection from a veterinary website.  Animals take the same medications we do, but I bought a Physicians Desk Reference, a book called Where There Is No Doctor and some others that help with dosage.  Pain killers are also a handy item in an emergency.  I don’t like keeping a ton of them around because they can be dangerous for children or a target for theft.  But, if my dentist or doctor prescribes them, I don’t throw away the leftovers and if they will give me refills, I will get them.  I keep them in the original presciption bottles and put some in my emergency and medical kits.  Again, I rotate them as often as I can, but have thrown away expired pain killers as they would be useless without the potency.

Where There Is No Doctor - a handy reference.

Disease tends to run rampant after every major disaster.  Some people consider immunizations to be more dangerous than helpful, or they don’t trust the pharmaceutical companies or government to make them safe.  My opinion is that if I didn’t get any other immunization, I would at least get a tetanus vaccination.  It will probably save my life someday.  Everyone in my family is current on all available immunizations for their age and needs.

I do not advocate taking any medication without a doctor’s advice, self-medicating or treating your family members without a doctor’s prescription, nor do I ever intend to share antibiotics or medications with others.  The prescription medications and antibiotics that I have stockpiled in case of emergency are just that.  To be used ONLY in case of an emergency situation when a doctor cannot be available.  Misuse of these items would be a prescription for disaster.  I sincerely hope that my time and efforts are a complete waste of time and money and I never have the opportunity to use them.

The Big One

What pushes your buttons?  What makes you take action?  What gets you thinking ahead – preparing for a possibility.  For some, it’s a simple worry like – my little boy has a new skateboard.  I better buy some extra bandaids.  Hope he doesn’t break a bone.  Will our insurance cover it?  For some, this is about as far as they can stretch the possibilities of imagination.  For others, like Jules Verne, imagination seems to break the barriers of time and space.  As it turns out, it seems that whatever you can imagine, can come true.  For others, a stretch of the imagination is as natural as a stretch of the muscles before exercise.  I am one of these.  I believe that anything can happen.  Not necessarily when somebody says it will, but eventually.  The fact of the matter is, we never know.  People have been preparing for the unknown since the beginning of mankind.  What if it rains?  We’ll find a cave or shelter.  What if the winter is long and cold?  We’ll store some extra wood.  What if?

Current economic numbers show that unemployment now stands at a whopping 9.2%  How long will the government extend benefits?  When will jobs be returning to our cities?   And, whatever the cause, the climate is changing.  As of July 1, 2011, The National Climatic Data Center, released the new normals for U.S. temperatures and precipitation.  Until now, they have remained the same since the 1930’s.  Are you ready for chronic extreme weather?  Although, the USGS maintains that earthquakes are not more frequent or larger than usual, there is more potential for damage and disaster due to more and larger population centers in earthquake prone areas such as, Japan, Haiti, Christchurch, Indonesia and Chili. Imagine, if you will what would happen to the American machine if one of these mega-quakes hit California or the New Madrid area which may have the potential of dividing the U.S. and literally stopping the flow of supplies to the city in which you reside.  Like Katrina, the Gulf Oil Spill, and more recently the tornado in Joplin, MO, any large disaster affects everyone even if it only means a rise in fuel prices in your area.

Tornado damage in Joplin, MO
What constitutes THE BIG ONE for you?  Whether it’s the possibility of a skinned knee, unemployment and foreclosure, a natural disaster wiping out your farm, a nuclear WWIII, or Planet X pulling earth out of orbit or causing a major pole shift and killing off 2/3 of the Earth’s population, what will get you to think ahead and make the appropriate plans and preparations for you, your family, friends or neighbors?