Top Five Medical Priorities for Survival, by Dr. Bob

I’d like to describe the top five survival priorities, from a medical standpoint.  If you order any survival products, you should do it with some conviction after setting up your top five priorities.  If you order a survival package from us here at survivinghealthy without paying attention to priority #1, you are doing it wrong!  There are not a lot of sites that will discourage you from purchasing from them, but this is not one of those!  Please, prioritize your purchases for survival based on need.  Let’s review the top five medical list.
#1:  Water.  You will live 5-7 days without water, but function effectively for only about 48 to 72 hours without it.  Water has to be your first thought when it comes to survival.  Water is not simple though either, there may not be a tap to just turn on and drink safely after TSHTF.  Optimal water is your own natural spring…but how many of us have that available?  Not many.  Next, well water.  But, you have to have set up a hand-powered way to get at it and as water tables get polluted with poor sanitation, that well water may not be safe to drink anymore.  There are testing kits available, but so many and at such a huge cost difference it is beyond my capacity to advise you in this area.  Next, rainwater.  That is my plan for our family, and we have the setup done.  Lastly, is natural open sources like lakes, rivers, ponds.  After TEOTWAWKI, all these water sources could be contaminated from surrounding runoff or poor neighbor sanitation.  Best policy is going to be:  the cleanest source possible, heating to boil, then filter.  You do not have to boil water for 10 minutes, and it actually doesn’t have to truly boil, but has to get close.  There are lots of different filters available, and of course most people are familiar with Big Berkey filters, but we got ours from AquaRain.  We can’t tell you if it is any better, but it certainly is comparable, and is made here in the USA, in Missouri.  It came quickly, was well packaged and seems to function just fine.  Sure, there is probably a firestorm of comments coming about which is better and why, but basically buy one and make sure the capacity will meet the needs of your group.  Plan on two gallons per person per day (drinking, cooking, tooth brushing)  and check the output of your filter, making sure it exceeds that limit.  Do not make the mistake of using unfiltered water for you tooth brushing and then end up sick, it only takes a couple ounces a day.
#2:  Food.  Food is essential for survival, but is far less important than water for short-term survival.  It takes months to years to starve to death, and days to weeks before you function sub-optimally due to lack of calories.  Being hungry does not kill you, but it does make you very grumpy and after a few days your thinking does get messed up from lack of fats in the bloodstream.  The human body is an amazing thing, and can live for long periods of time without food, especially if there is adequate water intake.  In fact, when faced with a lack of food, an increase in your water consumption is always a good idea.  Not only does it fill up your stomach and help with hunger, but proper hydration helps the body process remaining stored sugars, fats, and proteins for survival.  A balanced diet will be history for 99% of folk WTSHTF, but for a good prepper there can be proper nutrition for years if approached correctly.  Do that now.  Depending on your geographic area, there will be different needs and capabilities for food.  Gardening in the Northland is limited, and storage in the Southland is hampered by humidity and heat.  There is no one perfect plan out there, talk to your trusted sources and make your plan for your group or family.
#3:  Safety.  If you have food and water, you are in danger after 3 days post grid.  There are two major safety concerns, “pre” and “post”.  Pre-crash, keep your profile low and make sure that you don’t make it well-known that you are “one of those nuts”.  As soon as the crash starts, those that know you are one of those nuts who is \suddenly deemed to have “been right all along” will be at your door, often without flowers.  So, pre-crash safety involves quiet and calm, make your plans and talk only to those you trust, preferably those you plan to actually feed.  Post-crash safety is all about digging in and firepower.  The less you need to go out, the less exposure to health dangers such as disease, damaged infrastructure, weather threats and unfriendly humans.  A word about firepower:   You need to have it, know how to use it, and have plenty to load in it.  There are thousands of recommendations for safety and weapons, way beyond my scope and medically unimportant.  But, safety is medically important, so make sure you can protect yourself and yours from others that may mean you harm.  It will get progressively worse as the days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months.  There will be unpleasant situations and you need to be ready to defend your homestead.
#4:   Shelter.    Shelter seems like it would fall under prevention, and certainly shelter seems like an obvious preparedness issue, but it comes after items 1-through-3 on the list.  If you have water, food, safety, and then some prevention covered; you are already likely to be at the shelter you plan to stay in.  Let’s just say for the sake of argument, that you need to get to your shelter/bugout location.  You need to have 1-through-3 covered to make it.  Without any grid, there is unlikely to be power or fuel, and your trip may take much longer and be much harder than you planned for.  The other issue that makes shelter its own topic is the issue of longevity.  Do you have some plan for heating in the cold and cooler in the heat?  If you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line times will be hard in the winter without a grid unless you have planned ahead.  Turn off your power during the next cold snap for about 3 days and see what the temperature gets to in the house (make sure it doesn’t freeze as that is really bad for your house!).  Even if it doesn’t get to freezing, walking around in a 45 degree house is not fun after a day and you may find that you need a lot more cold weather supplies.  South of the Mason-Dixon Line, your summers may be brutal if there is no cooling plan and you have never tested your shelter in the summer to see just how hot it gets, you may be unpleasantly surprised.
#5:   Prevention.  Lots of folks may criticize this list and its order, but prevention is important only after surviving a few days.  Your teeth will not crumble and your strength will not suddenly fail the day after TEOTWAWKI.  Prevention covers a wide variety of topics and is therefore lower on the list.  Prevention of medical problems starts with a good first aid kit.  Prevention of dental problems with good preventive care now and continued tooth brushing and flossing then.   Prevention of likely medical problems such as starvation and dehydration by planning for #1 and #2.  Prevention of death by planning for #3 and #4. 

Now that you are hydrated, fed, alive, and you have a cover over your head; you can make sure your first aid kit is up to par and your teeth will make it.  Many of my prior topics discuss prevention for fitness planning, vitamins, OTC meds, among other topics.  Please make sure your checklist is done numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 before you start to focus on #5.  Included in this group would be medication planning and prevention.  Make sure you have your chronic meds, and antibiotics for infections that will come up over the next weeks, months, and maybe years.  Remember my ad campaign slogan:  “Water…check, food…check, ammo…check, strep…now what?”  Prevention as a topic can go on and on, but do your best and again only after the first four checklist items.  In all seriousness:  do not buy an antibiotic kit without preparing for the other survival checklist items first.  Do not buy a gun before getting a good water filter.  Don’t get ammo before food.  You get the idea.  Prep smart, or don’t prep at all.  Stay strong people, – Dr. Bob

JWR Adds: Dr. Bob is is one of the few consulting physicians in the U.S. who dispenses antibiotics for disaster preparedness as part of his normal scope of practice. His web site is: