When confronting sanitation issues, the basics are still the most important. Practicing good personal hygiene, such as bathing regularly and washing hands before handling food, eating, and after using the toilet, will prevent the spread of pathogens. However, sanitation can be over done. All these antimicrobial soaps and hand sanitizers are probably contributing to the emergence of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus) and other resistant bacteria that are so prevalent in the news now days.
I don’t think the importance of waste elimination can be overemphasized, despite it not being a very palatable subject (no pun intended). In addition to treatment of drinking water, proper waste disposal is vital for maintenance of health in a grid down scenario. Assuming TEOTWAWKI will eliminate indoor plumbing, we may all be digging outhouses in the backyard.
So how does this translate into basic preps for the homeowner? Obviously, the answer is where will your waste disposal occur? I’m not suggesting you dig an outhouse in your back yard tomorrow, unless you already have a bug out location built and stocked. If that is the case, then you might want to consider a just-in-case alternative location for waste elimination. I’m talking about having at least a bucket with bags or sawdust that can be used indoors and having reviewed or printed off the information in the article from this website “An Essential Prep: The Outhouse, by KMH“.
I’m trying not to be redundant, but if you have at least considered where waste will occur in a scenario where you lack indoor plumbing you will be well ahead of the rest of the population. Just remember that any waste elimination should be at least 200 feet from a water source and that proper sanitation is a must for healthy living. In addition to thinking about water and sanitation from a healthcare standpoint, I suggest we all be proactive in getting our medical preps in order. There have been a number of excellent articles about first aid kits, so I would like to discuss other aspects of personal healthcare preparation.
In addition to keeping accurate records of your vaccinations and health history in your bug out bag (so you don’t have to get that extra tetanus shot), I strongly suggest that anyone that is on daily medication have at least one to three months storage of the medication.
This can be difficult if you are on a fixed budget, especially with the prohibitive cost of pharmaceuticals. However, this can be accomplished a number of ways. The easiest and most obvious is to order your medication as a 90-day supply and always try and refill when you have a month left. Unfortunately, this method is subject to the whims of your insurance company (who continues to attempt to practice medicine without a license, but again I digress). If your insurance is such that a 90-day supply is not allowed, you may need to save up and buy a months worth of medicine at the same time you fill your insurance-covered prescription. If you are on multiple medications that are essential to your health, this may take a while to save up and buy with cash so you are always a month ahead.
Your health care provider should be willing to write an extra prescription or change to the 90-day supply if you talk with them and explain that you want to be ahead just in case of future money issues, disaster, travel, or unforeseen circumstances. If you don’t have a regular health care provider, you may need to establish a relationship with one before asking them to write for extra medication. Most health care providers don’t have a problem with this, as long as there is a standing relationship with the patient. Another method to increase your emergency supply would be to obtain an extra month or two from abroad. In particular, Mexico and South America prices are significantly less expensive on most medications. However, the controls that are in place to assure safety and efficacy of medications in the United States are not the same in other countries, so buyer beware. It will be important to have a prescription to show customs if you are asked when re-entering the country.
There is still another option, but it will only work with things that are multi-dose delivery medications, such as asthma medicines. Assume you are on albuterol; when you see your physician for your yearly check up, ask him to give you 12 refills and then make sure and refill your medicines every month whether you are out of the medicine or not, or if you are on a daily inhaled steroid, such as Flovent one puff once or twice each day, ask your doctor to write the prescription for two puffs twice per day, even if you are on a lower daily dose. That way you will get multiple months out of one prescription, and as you continue to fill the prescription every month you will quickly have your month reserve. Finally, ask if your provider has any samples, again explaining that you w ould like a few extra doses in case of unforeseen issues. Most physicians are more than happy to help you if they have samples of your particular medication.
Other personal medical preparation should involve resolving issues now that you have been having or ignored for multiple years.
I understand that most people don’t have time to go to the doctor, be referred to a specialist, get that bum knee or torn rotator cuff operated on, and then spend all that time rehabbing the injury. However, imagine what might happen if you continue to ignore the warnings your body has been giving you and all of the sudden there is not the medical care available to you that we take for granted. How are you going to survive in a world of no conveniences if that injury or illness gets so bad you can’t perform your share of the load or even handle the basic activities of daily living?
If you are the person that is refusing to get that physical exam, those tests that sound less than fun, address embarrassing concerns or nagging injuries, you probably would be better off stopping all of the preparation now and enjoy spending your resources on entertainment and frivolities before disaster strikes. You most likely will struggle in a post apocalyptic world with physical restrictions and just think how upset you would be knowing you could have fixed those things. I am not saying that those with physical disabilities are doomed; I’m saying if you have a physical issue that can be fixed, now is the time to see someone about it.
Now let’s talk about dental health maintenance. Can you imagine what life would be like when a dental visit isn’t possible? What will you do with the abscessed tooth, the cavity that is keeping you awake at night, the broken tooth, the heat/cold sensitive tooth? I hate mouth pain, so a deficiency in this healthcare preparation scares me more than others. I have read accounts of what passed for dental care prior to the invention of modern techniques, and I say “no, thank you” to pulling a tooth without anesthetic. My personal preparation in this regard is that I have made friends with a number of dentists in the hope that I would have a resource in TEOTWAWKI scenario :).
However, regardless if you make friends with a dentist or invite them into your preparedness circle, everyone should have optimal oral hygiene at all times, so that if an event occurs you aren’t already in trouble from an dental point of view. Routine dental maintenance while services are available is a must. Resolve those problems now; stop procrastinating.
Do your preparedness supplies include the ability to continue routine dental care after an event? Do ?ou have toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss? Do you have the means and correct tools to extract a tooth if you have to? What about a supply of numbing agent? Do you even have instructions on how one goes about extracting a tooth if necessary? There was an episode of The Deadliest Catch where a fisherman tries to extract his own tooth with pliers and ends up breaking the tooth. What would be worse, being stuck on the Bering sea with a sore tooth or a sore broken off tooth? Dentistry is a vocation and skill and when amateurs play at it, all sorts of bad things can happen, so I would also advocate that your cache include at least some form of written information on the management of dental problems (if you are unable to cache a dentist) so that you aren’t having to make it up as you go. We have purchased the book Where There Is No Dentist, but I’ll still be trading anything to my dentist friends for their help, if I have a real problem.
If you are the average American, you are likely overweight and out of shape. You might be under the assumption that you can procrastinate getting into shape in that you will be forced to get in shape with all the manual labor you will be doing once society falls apart. This is probably true; however, if you have to bug out or run from danger before all that manual labor forces you to get in shape, it probably behooves you to do something about your fitness level now.
A nutritionist I work with outlined the most common reasons we, as a nation, are out of shape and overweight.
- We eat out entirely too much. At most we should be eating out once per month.
- Every convenience and entertainment in our life promotes a sedentary life style. Find something active that you enjoy doing, and get out and do it. Exercise for the sake of exercise is rarely sustainable over the long haul, unless you enjoy the activity.
- We take second, third, and fourth helpings at each meal, or we require a dessert after every meal. If you eat like you should be managing your money i.e. living off of 75% of your take home pay, then you should eat until you are 75% satisfied.
Below are some standard charts of where you should be for optimal weight.
Based on these charts, I should be at least 6 foot 4 inches tall; I’m not. While I think all the personal health preps are important, this one may be the one that saves your life in the first weeks after a disaster.