I’m not going to enter into a debate about whether we’ve become a nation addicted to medications or why that may be the case or not. The fact of the matter is, many preppers and members of their families require daily doses of medications to survive. Add in the common OTC (over the counter) medications many people rely on when they become ill and you’re talking about a fair amount of pills and such.
The problem with storing medications is many don’t have a very long shelf life, at least as compared to other items we stockpile for later use. On average, I’d say a year is probably the longest you could expect a medication to be at full efficacy. However, all meds are different and you’re going to want to do some research on the specific ones you and your family take.
Complicating matters is the difficulty in setting aside mass quantities of prescription medications. Script meds are often very expensive, even with insurance co-pays. There is a school of thought out there that suggests you may be able to save up a supply of meds by skipping a dose here and there. I cannot recommend this course of action at all. It is vital in many cases that you follow your physician’s directions exactly.
A perhaps more feasible option is to pay close attention to when your script is able to be refilled and try to overlap that date with when you’ll take your last dose of the current supply. For example, let’s say next Wednesday is the soonest you can get a refill but your current supply won’t run out until next Friday. This would give you an extra two days of medication on hand. Do this a few more times and you’ll build up at least a small supply.
If you are friendly with your physician, you could talk with him or her about your concern too. Explain that with all the talk in the media about getting disaster kits together, you are worried something could happen that would cut you off from a supply of your prescriptions. As long as you’re not talking about narcotics or any other controlled substances, your physician may be willing to work with you on this.
As for OTC medications, think back on the last few years. What illnesses seemed to crop up? Stomach upset? Nasty head colds? What medications did you find to work the best? Those are the things to stock up on. Again though, don’t go overboard and spend money on a large supply that will likely go bad before you truly need it.
Don’t overlook things like antacids and general pain relievers and fever reducers like aspirin and ibuprofen. If anyone in your family has allergies, be sure to have the appropriate meds on hand.
Have young children? Make sure you have age-appropriate meds available.
Just about all medicines store best in a cool, dark location. I wouldn’t necessarily toss everything into a corner of the basement as you’ll want it accessible. In most homes, a closet will serve just fine. Just be sure to rotate your supplies to keep things reasonably fresh.
Now, with all that said, I’d encourage everyone to look into natural remedies for common ailments as well as whether herbals and other options may be of use to you to replace some or all of your prescription medications. I’m not saying to quit taking your meds cold turkey. Instead, partner with a physician who is agreeable to the use of such remedies. There could be some serious side effects if you start taking a natural remedy while still taking your prescription, even if the dose is reduced.
Your assignments this week:
1) Make a list of all medications you feel your family could possibly need during an extended crisis. Begin acquiring supplies of those meds as you can.
2) While you’re at it, pick up more rubbing alcohol, bandages, and other first aid supplies.
3) Have a fun and SAFE 4th of July celebration!