Bring Your Own Bandaids- Part 2, by A.&J. R.

Let’s now focus on the supplies we will require to be able to address the medical issues we are most likely to experience. This goes way beyond the first aid kit. At the end of each section, we’ll also note essential oils that may be helpful.

Essential Oils

The specific usage of essential oils, the amounts, carrier oils, and contraindications are beyond the scope of this article. The essential oils are included here so that you can see what you may wish to acquire to treat conditions you and your family are more likely to experience. Just as you’ll want medical references to guide you in any care you administer in a collapse situation, you’ll want to have an essential oils reference to guide you in their use. Remember, we are not licensed medical providers; we just want to be prepared with necessary supplies for caring for our families.

Pre-Existing Conditions

First, we’ll begin with some pre-existing conditions, the problems we already know that we have, and which quite a number of people feel will be a death sentence at TEOTWAWKI.


Most of the type 1 diabetics we have encountered who have even given a thought to life post-collapse just plan on dying. Therefore, they don’t plan at all, and they will die. But collapse doesn’t have to mean a death sentence for diabetics. Insulin was first isolated and prepared in the 1920s using equipment found in a modern high school chemistry lab. The detailed instructions are given in this online. Eva Saxl and her husband saved Eva and about 400 other diabetics in Shanghai during World War II by making their own insulin. If they did it then, we can do it now. (Some say it’s not any more difficult than making meth.) Of course, most diabetics are going to be a little wary of DIY insulin. I know I am, and I’ll be the one making it. Getting production going will take some effort and coordination.

A Supply of Insulin and Everything That Goes Along With It

Now’s the time to build up a very good supply of insulin, as well as everything else that goes along with it. You’ll want glass syringes that can be sterilized and needles that can be sharpened. If you don’t know someone who works in a hospital and can help you with the glass syringes that are becoming increasingly hard to find, Shop Med Vet. It is your new best friend. Of course, you’ve already stockpiled your lancets and meters and strips. But if the meters get EMP’d (hopefully, the back-up meter(s) you have stored in a Faraday cage will be safe) or when the strips run out, you need a Plan B.

Plan B for Diabetic Testing

Plan B for diabetic testing involves ***veterinary urinalysis strips*** that are visually read. (This is what diabetics did 40+ years ago.) Those strips can be cut in half, or even thirds if your eyes are really good, to make them last longer. But those strips may eventually run out as well.

Plan C

What’s Plan C? Well, the kidneys start spilling sugar when you reach 180-200 mg/dl. Dip a cotton ball in your urine, put it outside, and then see if ants are attracted. If they are, your blood sugar levels exceed 200 mg/dl. If no ants are available, dip your finger in your urine and see if it tastes sweet. Sugars are high if it does. Is your urine sterile? Right when it comes out, yes. Is it safe to test this way? Yes. Is it gross? Double yes. Don’t like doing it this way? Then stock more checking supplies, at least for when ants aren’t available. (I’ll definitely be stocking more here.)

Type 2 Diabetics

Type 2 diabetics, you already know you need to exercise, eat right, and lose weight to reduce or eliminate the need for medications. In the meantime, make sure you have an adequate supply of your medications. If you’re on insulin, imagine how happy you will be to be injecting the DIY brown stuff. (Yes, DIY insulin is a dirty brown.) Personally, I would find the thought of having to taste test my urine motivating enough to lose weight and get off meds altogether. (Alas, I am Type 1, so there’s no hope of getting off insulin.) Also, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics should consider prepping for a low- to no-carbohydrate diet to extend the insulin supply much longer. Essential oils: geranium, ginger, cypress, eucalyptus, and lavender.


Generic substitutions for Synthroid for hypothyroidism are available extremely inexpensively from All Day Chemist. Currently, a year’s supply of the maximum dose is less than $35. If you use less than the maximum dose, you can buy the larger dose pills and use a pill splitter to reduce your cost to half or less. Dr. Cynthia Koelker has written a self-study course for preppers to treat their thyroid conditions post-apocalypse. It is available at Thyroxine can also be obtained from sheep, pig, and cow thyroids and doesn’t require any processing. However, it does require those animals.


Of course, acquire as much of a stockpile as possible of your asthma medications and keep your environment as clean as possible. Theophylline, salbutamol, and inhalers are available through overseas pharmacies. Epinephrine inhalers and capsules are available without a prescription from at least one company in the U.S.– Dr Natural Healing.

Caffeine is from the same family as theophylline and has shown some efficacy in treating asthma. So, very strong coffee may help, or as an alternative, stock caffeine pills.

Before our society collapses entirely, try natural remedies to see whether any of them will work for you. Teas reported to be helpful include ginger, garlic, ephedra, nettle, chamomile, and rosemary. Herbal supplements reported to have therapeutic effects include turmeric, licorice, ginger, black pepper, gingko biloba, lobelia. Other items of possible aid include coffee, honey, and vitamin D. Essential oils to consider are eucalyptus, mustard, camphor, lavender, geranium, frankincense, and cypress.

Life-Threatening Allergies/Anaphylaxis

Those Epi-pens are pretty expensive and don’t have a long shelf life, so the only people purchasing them for a collapse situation are going to be those most likely to need them. Epi-pens contain about five doses of epinephrine, information not generally shared by the manufacturer. It’s just a bit difficult to access. Numerous YouTube videos demonstrate how to do this safely. Epinephrine decreases in potency over time, but even at five years out of date, physicians say that epinephrine still has about 60% of its original potency. That may still save a life.[4]

Common Injuries

Now, let’s look at the most common injuries and the means for caring for them. We’ll also consider what supplies would be useful to have on hand.

Minor lacerations

Over 90% of the lacerations physicians see today fall into the minor category where only the skin and subcutaneous tissue are involved, and not the muscles or tendons. Often the cause for a trip to urgent care or the emergency room today, the facilities for treating these injuries may not be available tomorrow. Decisions on how and whether to close a laceration are best made by a medical professional, who will have to make that decision based on the mode of injury and what supplies are available. You need to make sure that you can supply whatever the caregiver deems best in the situation at hand.

Derma-Bond and Steri-Strips

Derma-Bond is only available through a physician. Vet-Bond, the veterinary equivalent of Derma-Bond, can still be purchased without restriction. Both are chemically similar to superglue, but they’re less likely than the latter to cause a chemical burn. Vet-bond is desirable for closing smaller wounds on children and facial wounds on daughters and other women when minimizing scarring is really a priority. Steri-Strips, adhesive strips of tape 3-4” long and 1/10-1/2” wide, can also be used for closing some wounds. They are especially valuable for children on body parts that don’t move a lot, and for the elderly with paper-thin skin.

Skin Staples

Skin staples are best for the scalp, abdomen, and back, but they are not used over joints (too much movement) or the face (scarring). (Regarding scalp wounds, if the hair is long enough, the hair can also be braided across the laceration to close it.)


Ideally, you will have sutures in a variety of sizes to accommodate a variety of purposes. Unfortunately, sutures for human use are only available through a licensed healthcare provider. Veterinary sutures “for training” available through Amazon are not necessarily of the quality one may desire, i.e., the needles may not be as sharp, making the procedure more painful for the patient. Sutures for “veterinary use” available through ShopMedVet are sterile and available in a wide variety of materials and sizes. Lacking the above, you may find yourself being stitched up with a common sewing needle, which is going to hurt a lot more, and silk or nylon thread (available at most fabric stores). Natural remedies: cayenne pepper powder, cinnamon powder, activated charcoal. Essential oils: lavender, thyme, geranium, cypress, myrrh, eucalyptus.

More Serious Lacerations and Serious Bleeding

For more serious lacerations and serious bleeding issues, you’ll want to have on hand some cotton gauze for stopping bleeding (combined with direct pressure, of course). Tampons have long been touted as great for stopping hemorrhaging, but keep in mind that they are for absorbing blood. They do absolutely nothing for clotting. And you might also wish to know that a University of La Plata study in 2015 showed that 85% of the sanitary napkins and pads they tested were positive for glyphosate (also known as Roundup). That’s not something you necessarily want to put into a wound. Cayenne pepper has been shown to help stop mild to moderate bleeding (and yes, it burns). QuikClot and Celox, available as crystals, powders, solutions, and in gauzes and sponges, are a little pricey, but they can be invaluable in stopping serious bleeding.


If none of these treatments works, you’ll need a tourniquet. Strips of cloth and bandanas aren’t nearly as effective as a real tourniquet. The SOF Tactical Tourniquet is one option favored by the military, which consists largely of people with pretty well developed arm and leg muscles. The SWAT-T tourniquet can be used on limbs of any size, including children and the elderly. It has the advantage of being able to be used as a compression bandage or sling as well. Also in your kit should be a black permanent marker for writing on the tourniquet or on the patient the exact time the tourniquet was applied. The next caregiver (assuming there is one) needs to know how long the tourniquet has been on to render the most appropriate treatment for the situation.


Absorbable sutures as well as non-absorbable will be desired, or else you will have to resort to a sewing needle and thread, unless you have a supply of agave cactus needles (and the attached fiber) or combat army ants. (Have those ants bite you where you need the suture to go, then detach the head from your body.) So, at the very least, get silk, nylon, and sewing needles, right?


Nosebleeds affect most people at some point in their lives. The vast majority are stopped by direct pressure. For persistent bleeders, Afrin is helpful. For true gushers, there is Quikclot for nosebleeds. It’s favored over other hemostat/gauze preparations because after the bleeding has stopped, it can be completely removed and leaves nothing behind. A little Vaseline smeared inside the nose can help reduce the frequency of nosebleeds. A little bit of gauze soaked in epinephrine is also effective. Essential oils: geranium.


Abrasions, even large ones, generally don’t cause much concern among the population as a whole because they aren’t deep. Most people equate deep with “serious,” not deep means “not serious.” However, that’s not quite the case. Abrasions by their nature are filled with debris, and it all has to be removed. A perineal bottle works very well for irrigating and cleaning wounds because it’s easier to control than a syringe and you can achieve pretty nice pressure with it. Tweezers and Q-tips are good for removing debris that irrigation alone can’t dislodge. You’ll also want a little topical antibiotic ointment and a bandage of the appropriate size. Essential oils: lavender, frankincense, myrrh, tea tree.

Fractures and Sprains

Fractures and sprains can be difficult to differentiate, and because the supplies needed for both are essentially the same, they will be addressed together. In a collapse situation, you probably don’t want to put a plaster cast on. After all, without power tools, how are you going to get it off safely? Ideally you will have on hand a cervical collar, finger, ankle, knee, and back braces. SAM splints are moldable splints that can be cut with ordinary scissors and are reusable. They can splint every bone in the body. Substitutions for a splint would be sticks or bark and strips of cloth, Popsicle sticks, or pillows, and duct tape. Ace bandages in a wide variety of sizes will also come in handy. Instant cold packs will help decrease swelling and pain. Essential oils for fractures: ginger, thyme, lavender, geranium, chamomile. Essential oils for sprains: ginger, nutmeg, cloves.

Muscle Strains

We’ve all experienced muscle strains to some extent. All of the usual aids we appreciate now will be appreciated later—OTC pain relievers, pain rubs, pain patches, and some essential oils. Ice may be hard to come by, so having a few instant cold packs will be a good idea. Essential oils: ginger, thyme, lavender, chamomile.


Most of us have some experience with first and second degree burns, just from being outdoors and cooking. Beyond putting the burned area under cool running water for several minutes, burn gel is used for first degree (non-blistering) burns as well as second degree (blistering) burns. Over-the-counter burn gels come with various strengths of lidocaine, with 1-2% lidocaine being the most common, but you can find it in strengths up to 4% lidocaine (brand name Alocane). And of course, aloe vera is also very beneficial. Essential oils: lavender.

Third Degree Burns

Third degree burns involve charred skin and are an entirely different matter. You’ll want to have a perineal bottle or gentle baby hair brush for removing debris like charred bits of clothing, aloe vera and/or burn gels for pain management, and topical antibiotics for infection control. For dressing the burned area, Vaseline-gauze dressings are pretty pricey. You can make your own by bringing Vaseline to a boil to sterilize it and then spreading it on a sterile piece of gauze. You can also use plastic food wrap. (The colored wrap is thicker and easier to manage.) A person with burns covering even 10% of the body is at risk of shock and dehydration. Oral rehydration salts and an enema kit may be needed, as the patient may need to be sedated and therefore unable to drink.[5]



[5]See article by Dr. Cynthia Koelker.

See also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part two of a six part entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

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Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. A really great and helpful article. I am going to order quite a few of the items you’ve suggested. We are also starting to acquire and learn about essential oils.

    1. Yes, the article you cited goes into great detail of how to suture. Numerous Youtubes also provide demonstrations. We felt it best to leave the instruction to the professionals.

      Thank you for your thoughts!

  2. This is common sense Medical information and skills that every single red-blooded American should acquire. If the only reason one is preparing it’s for the end of the world then one is doing it wrong. Life is filled with thousands of days and each of those days could bring any number of unforeseen events. Plan accordingly.

  3. Nicely done. I’ll add that various sized suture needles with eyes are available on eBay and through Amazon. Ultralight fishing uses very light tackle. The monofilament line is typically 2 or 4 pound test and may also be used as suture. Wiping it with alcohol or bleach and letting it dry first might be a good plan.

    As a retired ER RN I’ve given a lot of thought to this subject. As a nurse working with other nurses I always believed that I could teach something to every nurse and could also learn something from every nurse I ever worked with.

    I’m learning from you.


    1. You’re very kind.

      Amazon does have a pretty good variety of sutures. However, it is our understanding that these are for “vet use” and “practice” only (at least in the US), and as such, at least one physician said they hurt more than sutures for people. No one in this house was willing to be a guinea pig to verify. Shop Met Vet has a greater variety of sutures at better prices. Our son heated and bent a sewing needle into a curve for us to practice while awaiting the arrival of real suture needles. A curved sewing needle is much more difficult to use than a real suture.

      Thank you for your thoughts. It’s so good to learn from you and others in the Survivalblog community commenting on this article.

  4. Thank you for the article today with instructions on Insulin making! I have downloaded and printed it off to save in what I hope will be a never used folder! Also on Survival blog there are quiet a few articles on diabetics in a SHTF situation. The ones I found helpful in our situation are the ones on alternate refrigeration for insulin that you already have. ; ; . These are articles that I have found helpful in my peace of mind after our son was diagnosed with Type 1 six years ago. Also a carefully worded question to your doctor about the availability of the supply chain of insulin supplies can sometimes result in that understanding Dr. writing you a slightly larger prescription so that you can then build up a supply of needed medicine… and if you then get your refills as regular as clockwork as much as your insurance will allow… you can build up a “cushion” of supplies so that you then have time to figure something out if indeed it does become a SHTF situation.

    In that regard having extra coolers and frozen ice packs ready to use would be a first line of defense to keep that precious medicine cool… then moving on to a “camping fridge” that can run off a car battery and having several batteries that are kept only for this purpose gives you a more stable cooling option. If you then have a solar panel option for recharging those batteries you now have an indefinite ability to keep your insulin cool and available. Another option would be a small R.V. fridge that can run off a propane tank… but propane does eventually run out as well…. Don’t forget to test out your cooling options at least once a year to make sure everything still works, the charges have held and no critters have chewed through your cords. Also remember to use your insulin FIFO… Hope this helps others to realize that a SHTF situation is not necessarily a death sentence for Type 1 Diabetics.

    1. Yes, to everything. We’ve got several ways to keep the insulin cool ourselves. And so glad to hear that at least one other diabetic (and family) doesn’t see TEOTWAWKI as a death sentence for diabetics!

  5. A member of my family was hospitalized recently for surgery and I picked up quite a few supplies. Every hospital meal came with a plastic bowl of condiments: salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, sugar; all in tiny little sealed packets. I saved every one for my bugout bag or for barter. When the patient was ready to come home, he had an incision that needed to be covered. The nurses practically drowned us in sealed, sterile gauze and tape. I used what was needed and stored the rest. Best of all, I got a suture removal kit. I’m not sure how to use it (I didn’t take his stitches out), but I have it for future use or barter. The experience taught me to be aware that great supplies can come from unexpected sources and events.

  6. Keep in mind that sealed suture kits will still be sterile and usable long after the expiration date if the seal is intact. It would be preferable to boiled fishing line and sewing needles.

    1. After suturing with real sutures and then with sewing needles, we’re quite convinced that sewing needles will be a much more painful experience for the patient. The sewing needles do not go through skin (well, banana peels, practice suture kit, or chicken skin) anywhere near as easily or quickly as suture needles do. We’d use an “expired” suture long before a sewing needle, at least on ourselves. Just a thought.

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