Antibiotics In Your Preps?

“The first rule of antibiotics is try not to use them, and the second rule is try not to use too many of them.” – Paul Marino The ICU Book 2007

Cellulitis

Last week in Soap and Water I posted about the risk, in a collapse situation, of an infection–from minor cuts and scrapes–known as cellulitis. I linked to Dr. Bones Doom and Bloom blog post, Cellulitis: An Epidemic in a Collapse. Here’s another good article by Dr. Bones, A Doctor’s Thoughts on Antibiotics, Expiration Dates, and TEOTWAWKI. For additional perspective about antibiotics before and during a collapse I recommend comments by Dr. ‘Walker’ on TSP forum. Additional, non-prepper/collapse, antibiotic information can be found at eMedicineHealth.com.

I need to state, though I was previously certified and worked as a paramedic for almost ten years, I am currently not a medical professional of any type; thus I am not giving any professional medical advice. All the information in this post is from open internet sources. As Dr. Bones states “. . . [these] are hypothetical strategies for a post-apocalyptic setting. They are not meant to replace standard care and advice when modern medical technology and resources are available.” And always remember, the practice of medicine or dentistry without a license is illegal and punishable by law.

So with all the caveats stated:

Antibiotics refer to a substance that kills, slows or disrupts the growth of:

  • bacterial infections: caused by a pathogenic (a ‘germ’/microorganism that causes disease) bacteria
  • protozoan infections: caused by a parasitic disease, i.e. giardia which occurs through ingestion of infected fecal contaminated water or food

Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as: colds, flu, most coughs, and most sore throats (unless caused by strep).

Much of my information comes from Dr. Bones. I trust his advice. I applaud him; he is a medical doctor who is willing to say what he believes will save lives in a collapse situation. But as he clearly states, “[This] advice is contrary to standard medical practice, and is a strategy that is appropriate only in the event of societal collapse. If there are modern medical resources available to you, seek them out.”

As discussed in Soap and Water, describing a collapse situation, there are several things that will aggravate the chances of getting an infection: 1) We will be doing more ‘dirty’ jobs, 2) We will be doing a lot more manual labor and other activities that can easily lead to cuts and scrapes, and 3) Clean water and basic hygiene will not be as accessible or convenient. So a relatively minor wound that is ignored while you continue working gets more contaminated; then the wound isn’t thoroughly washed out because clean water is saved for drinking. In a short period of time that wound can develop a serious infection.

Dr. Bones states in Fish Antibiotics in a Collapse, “These injuries can begin to show infection, in the form of redness, heat and swelling, within a relatively short time. Treatment of such infections, called “cellulitis”, at an early stage improves the chance that they will heal quickly and completely.  However, many rugged individualists are most likely to “tough it out” until their condition worsens and spreads to their blood.  This causes a condition known as sepsis; fever ensues as well as other problems that could eventually be life-threatening. The availability of antibiotics would allow the possibility of dealing with the issue safely and effectively.”

Having antibiotics available in a collapse situation will be very important, even lifesaving. The question is how can we as preppers obtain a stockpile to be used if other ‘medical resources’ are no longer available?

Dr. Bones continues, “After years of using [antibiotics] on fish, I decided to evaluate these drugs for their potential use in collapse situations. A close inspection of the bottles revealed that the only ingredient was the drug itself, identical to those obtained by prescription at the local pharmacy. If the bottle says FISH-MOX, for example, the sole ingredient is Amoxicillin, which is an antibiotic commonly used in humans.  There are no additional chemicals . . .”

So it seems that fish antibiotics are the same drugs as used in human antibiotics. I believe that adding fish antibiotics to my preps is a sound strategy. They are available, without a prescription, through many fish supply websites. I have purchased, or plan to purchase, the following:

  • Fish-Mox Forte (amoxicillin 500mg): used to treat infections of the ears, nose, throat, urinary tract, skin, pneumonia, and gonorrhea
  • Fish-Flex Forte (cephalexin 500mg): used to treat infections of the bone, ear, skin, urinary tract, and pneumonia; it has very low side effects, (it is typically safe for those with penicillin allergies)
  • Fish-Flox Forte (ciprofloxacin 500mg): used to treat infections of bones and joints, sinuses, skin, urinary tract, gastroenteritis (stomach ‘flu’), typhoid, plague, and anthrax
  • Aqua-Doxy (doxycycline 100mg): used to treat infections of the sinus and respiratory tract, skin (staph), urinary tract, intestines, chlamydia, anthrax, Rickettsia, Lyme disease, plague, and cholera
  • *Fish-Zole (metronidazole (Flagyl) 250mg): as an antiprotozoal, used to treat giardia and dysentery

For any medication you choose to stock (antibiotics or otherwise) print out the entire drug card and keep that information stored with the drug; a good online source of drug information is the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Also it’s always best to store them in the original package and, like food storage, keep in a dry, dark, cool place.

If you choose to add antibiotics to your preps it is your responsibility to be thoroughly educated about their usages, contradictions, doses, and side effects. This is something you can’t just buy and figure you have it if you need it. Obtain additional medical publications such as the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) or Delmar Nurse’s Drug Handbook*. Antibiotics are drugs, taking an antibiotic is a medical treatment, do not take this lightly. When I was going through my Army medic training one of my instructors said, “Every medicine you put into the body is a toxin, be sure the benefits outweigh the risks.”

(Wednesday: Expired, or Not Expired; That Is The Question)

* There are many other good references available, these are just two examples. There is no reason to buy a current edition; older editions are much cheaper and have essentially all the information a layperson would ever need. 

What I Did This Week To Prep

Last spring, working on our energy category, I bought a used Generac 5000 generator. My goal is to test it each quarter to ensure it still works properly. I especially wanted to be sure this time of year with the cold winter months approaching. So Ryan, his best friend Chanse, and I got it out. It took us a minute, but once we got the choke properly adjusted it fired up. I need to remember next time that the garage (even with the door open) isn’t the place to test it – it’s loud! Though we haven’t used it other than testing, so far I’ve been pleased with it – but I definitely need more experience using it.

Not long after buying the generator, continuing in the energy category, I bought four slightly used AGM deep cycle batteries and a refurbished Magnum inverter/charger. It took me a while to get all the appropriate knowledge and pieces together. But with the help of a couple TSP forum friends (thanks Dan and Rick), and their electrical/alternative energy knowledge, by early summer I had everything wired together and functional. This past week, after it had quietly sat in the garage for a couple months, I finally did my first test of the system. The test was to see how long our 14 cubic foot deep freezer would run (without opening the freezer) on the batteries. The battery bank, fully charged, started at 12.60 volts. I recorded the time and battery voltage several times a day. It ran for a about 100 hours, until the batteries were at 10.71 volts. A few days after my test I realized that the breaker from the batteries to the inverter had tripped and, after looking at the manual, I determined that the batteries probably should have discharged to 10.50 volts before the inverter tripped off; so add a few more hours to the total. I need to do more testing and develop a better understanding of my backup electric system, but it was a start. Next I’ll do a ‘lights out’ test and see how the battery bank does running some electrical appliances in the house. I also need to use the generator to recharge the discharged battery bank and see how long, and how much gas, that takes.

Ryan & Brynn with our combined order

Lastly, we went to the Mormon Family Home Storage Center (cannery) and canned food to add to our LTS. I previously posted about the Mormon canneries, and included a link to a video of the process, in Long Term Storage (Food Part 2). The staff (Mormon volunteers) were super friendly and helpful. The cannery is scheduled by groups; you can form your own group (Mormon or non-Mormon), or you can be added to a smaller group (we were added to a Mormon group from the Auburn area). A friend had planned to go with me but was unable to go that week, so I offered to do his order as well. Since it was going to be a large order (combined 91 cans) I brought Ryan and Brynn along to help. In addition to us, there were about eight other people in our group. We had each previously submitted our order forms, and all the bulk storage bags we would need had been pulled from the shelves and were ready to go. Start to finish, including orientation and cleanup, took just over two hours. We were assigned a task and, assembly line style, the process started: opening bulk bags, pouring into #10 cans, sealing the metal lid on the can, adding a label, and placing the can in a box for the appropriate order. When all the work was completed, we inventoried and paid for our order. We added 55 #10 cans to our LTS.

What did you do?

(Monday: Antibiotics In Your Preps?)

(10/23/11)

Soap and Water

Minor cuts and scrapes happen from time to time. Though any open wound is a potential site for infection, we really don’t think much about the small ones other than their initial pain and the inconveniences they cause us as they heal. Most of us live in a world that is relatively safe and even minor wounds don’t happen very often. When they do, the simple steps we take to care for them plus our daily hygiene practices prevent most infections. In rare situations, when the injury becomes infected often the biggest hassle is finding the time to get to the doctor’s office for prescribed antibiotics.

But in a long-term disaster/collapse situation, a minor wound–if neglected–could become deadly. In that scenario, there are several things that will aggravate the chances of getting an infection: 1) We will be doing more ‘dirty’ jobs, i.e. working outside, building fires, handling animals; 2) We will be doing a lot more manual labor, i.e. cutting wood, cooking over a fire, building and repairing, and other activities that can easily lead to cuts and scrapes; and 3) Clean water and basic hygiene will not be as accessible or convenient, i.e. no running water in the house. So a relatively minor wound that is ignored while you continue working gets more contaminated; then the wound isn’t thoroughly washed out because clean water is saved for drinking. In a short period of time that wound can develop a serious infection.

What is the best way to clean and care for a minor wound? Common answers frequently include hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, but not only do both of these harm the healthy tissue they can also delay wound healing. I’ve even heard someone say that ‘alcohol must be the best because it burns the most when you apply it’ – it burns because you are killing the exposed healthy tissue.

The best way to clean a minor wound, and prevent infection, is to remove all debris from the wound with cool, clean running water (this could also be poured or squirted from a container) and a mild soap. Then prior to bandaging it, lightly apply (think chapstick application) petroleum jelly on the wound. This will help the healing process by keeping the wound moist and clean and stop the bandage from sticking. Using antibiotic ointments is unnecessary, they add unneeded cost and may help create more antibiotic resistant bacteria; their main benefit is the same as the petroleum jelly.

Remember there’s a fine line between tough and stupid. The only medical aid available might be from your own group. So plan ahead to minimize injury: wear protective gloves, long pants and long sleeves, and, if appropriate, a helmet and/or goggles. When you do get a minor wound (and you will), make it a priority to clean and dress it as soon as possible. Be sure to know where the nearest first aid kit is kept, have water available for washing, and keep soap in your preps.

Even if you’ve done everything right, there’s a chance infection will occur. The type of infection common in these type wounds is cellulitis. Cellulitis, if not treated by antibiotics, “can cause a life-threatening condition known as sepsis”. This is described by Dr. Bones on his Doom and Bloom blog post, Cellulitis: An Epidemic in a Collapse. I recommend reading it. Next Monday I’ll explain what I’ve learned, and recently done myself, to acquire a stockpile of ‘collapse medicine’ antibiotics.

(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)

One Man’s Tool

…could be another man’s weapon, or different kind of tool.

I was recently reading over a BOB list put together by a co-worker of Sarah’s (it was distributed for September National Preparedness Month). We preppers frequently look at others’ lists and compare them to what we have ourselves. As I read it through, I mentally checked off each item he listed thinking of the equivalent I had in my bag. At the end he mentioned that he keep all his stuff in a pack near his garage door, except his crowbar which he kept under the bed. Crowbar? I don’t have a crowbar. And under the bed? Oh, he’s keeping it there as a weapon…

The crowbar, in it’s current form, has been documented since the 1400s. Also known as a wrecking bar, pry bar, or by the British as a prisebar.

I decided a crowbar would be a good idea. So a trip to the hardware store and $15 later I had a 30 inch iron crowbar for my BOB.

Since we have to be prepared to carry our BOBs, it is helpful if the items we bring along have multiple uses. A crowbar can be used:

  • as a lever to move heavy items
  • to pry things apart
  • to open a damaged car door
  • to open a house door or window
  • to safely break glass
  • as a support anchor
  • as a leg splint
  • as a cane
  • to remove nails
  • as a hammer
  • as a pick axe
  • to break the hasp on a padlock
  • for smashing things

Or as a weapon. I’m not wanting to advocate or predict violence, but desperate times frequently bring out the very best or the very worst in people. I see the crowbar as a defensive weapon, holding it in two hands across your body with the curved portion on top in your dominate hand. It can be used to defend against other blunt weapons, punches, or to create a physical barrier. Offensively, if necessary, holding it the same way and striking with the curved portion using the straight end for a follow-up strike. I would avoid using it like a baseball bat because it’s heavy to swing around, and the momentum could throw you off-balance and out of position. Likely it’s just going to be a psychological weapon. If you’re standing there empty-handed, you look vulnerable; if you’re holding a relatively large crowbar, not so much.

Weight is it’s biggest disadvantage. Five pounds may not seem like much, until you have to carry it in hand for any distance. Strapping it to a pack is an option, but it’s not as accessible. I’d happily deal with the extra weight in an urban setting where I felt defenseless, but in a rural area–especially if I needed to walk for long–I’d likely leave it behind.

The humble crowbar, a tool of many uses – something I hadn’t thought to add to my kit, and now wouldn’t want to do without.

(Wednesday: Soap and Water)

What I Did This Week To Prep

The north side of the Olympic Peninsula near Sequim (pronounce: skwim) is the area where we hope to find our BOL. We’ve spent considerable time determining what we wanted in a BOL community before deciding on Sequim. Our goal was to find something in a rural area near a small town, with a temperate climate, that was less than three hours from our current home; a location that didn’t require us to drive through the mountains, a major metropolis, or cross a bridge to get there. We really like the resources and feeling of Sequim; now we just need to find that right piece of property.

That part is much easier said than done. We’ve been tracking available properties online for several months. We had even gone to look at a few, but hadn’t found anything that interested us. Recently I’ve been watching one online that looked promising. We researched it further and agreed it’d be worth looking at. Since Sarah had an extra couple days off we decided to head out to Sequim and look at BOL property. We spent time looking at it and walking around the acreage, and we both really liked it. The property itself is great; the structures will need some work – but it had location, location, location. I’ll keep you posted if anything comes of it.

On the way back from Sequim we stopped in Vashon Island to pick up the newest addition to our family: a seven week old female Border Collie, named Kate. We had been in contact with the breeder for several weeks and were just waiting for her to get old enough so that we could go get her and bring her home. She is a cute little thing; as Emily says, she’s “freaking adorable.” Is a dog a prepper topic? Of course it is! Not only does a dog add to the home security with it’s heightened senses and awareness, it also adds comfort and a sense of normalcy in a stressful situation. Remember, you dog needs to be included in planning your preps: storing extra dog food, and including it in your evacuation plan.

Since we needed dog food for Kate, we made our monthly trip to Costco early. (Early in the sense that their monthly coupons weren’t available for another week.) They had a good price on Duracell Daylite LED D cell flashlights, so we picked up a couple of those. We have several flashlights, but they are already distributed throughout the house; we wanted to get a couple of quality ones to put in a central location. We bough puppy food (including plenty of extra), the Kirkland brand has good ingredients at a good price. We got some extra peanut butter and plan to get more before peanut butter prices go up soon – ounce for ounce peanut butter is one of the cheapest sources of protein available. Also wool socks were on sale so we got a few extra to add to our BOBs.

What did you do?

(Monday: One Man’s Tool)

(10/16/11)

A List

The room goes dark and quiet. Power outage. Why really doesn’t matter right now; right now you’re sitting in a dark house. Time to start putting some of your preps to use. Duration of the blackout and appropriate level of concern, will be determined as things progress. But for now, you feel good about your families’ situation; your five basic needs are met pretty well.

But what about your daily wants and activities? We are creatures of habit; our routines give us comfort. To establish some type of normalcy will be important. Once we are warm, fed, and safe; the next complaint will be lack of everyday activity and boredom.

So what now? It’s hard to address these issues if you haven’t thought about them before. So as a family we tried to brainstorm all the things we do–at the house–on a regular basis. (No particular order, we just went around the group and each of us named something until we couldn’t think of anything else.) We didn’t try to solve any problems, or develop any ideas. I just wanted a list of things we regularly do, and to create an awareness of our normal activities.

Eventually, I want to look at each item on the list and determine it’s relative importance in an emergency situation. Do we need a back-up, a substitute, or possibly an alternate way of achieving the same end?

But for now, it’s just a list:

  1. Going to the bathroom
  2. Internet
  3. Cooking
  4. Drinking water
  5. Brushing teeth
  6. Reading
  7. Watching TV shows
  8. Putting on make up
  9. Sleeping
  10. Studying and learning
  11. Laundry
  12. Shaving
  13. Music
  14. Hanging with friends
  15. Washing hair
  16. Dishes
  17. Getting dressed
  18. Drawing
  19. Keeping food cold
  20. Wake up with alarm
  21. Crafts
  22. Drinking alcohol
  23. Using computers (non Internet)
  24. Taking medicine
  25. Texting
  26. Games
  27. Playing with and caring for pets
  28. Staying warm
  29. Watching movies
  30. Taking out trash
  31. Vacuuming
  32. Taking pictures
  33. Using microwave
  34. Dealing with menstrual cycles
  35. Sweeping
  36. Fixing stuff
  37. Video games
  38. Preparing food
  39. Changing batteries
  40. Telling time
  41. Washing hands and face
  42. Opening doors
  43. Showering
  44. Talking
  45. Building things
  46. Drinking coffee
  47. Relaxing
  48. Baking
  49. Cleaning
  50. Putting on lotion
  51. Locking doors
(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)

Buying Stuff Is Easy

“Mental and physical preparation. People die with all of the things they need to survive because they don’t maintain the will to survive. . . . the most important thing is the person using the technology.” This was recently emailed to me by one of my oldest and closest friends. In the military they taught us: improvise, adapt, and overcome. Knowledge and ability, once gained, are yours forever; stuff can be lost, broken, or taken away.

Though few of us can buy everything we’d like, the actual concept of saving up the money, going to the store, selecting, paying, and bringing it home is easy. It’s easy and we feel good because we now have this item; we believed we needed it for our preps, we saved for it, and now own it. But this is only a start, now we have to mentally and physically develop the skill set to use it. New items typically fall into one of two categories: it is something we are already familiar with and just need to figure out the new one, or it’s something we’ve never used before and need to learn a brand new skill (which take time and effort).

Mental preparation: developing a survival/can-do attitude and learning useful skill sets. Physical preparation: keeping yourself physically capable of surviving and accomplishing those skill sets.

We all have stuff sitting around our homes that we’ve bought but really don’t know how to use. We understand the basic concept and we’re fairly confident that if we needed to we could “figure it out”, but we haven’t taken the time to – yet. This can be a precarious position. Now that we’ve bought said item we feel we have checked off that box; there are other new and interesting things, to buy. Figuring it out “one of these days” frequently never quite happens.

It is imperative that we do “figure it out”. Take the time to learn the skill, then get your hands dirty and practice it – watching a video isn’t good enough. For example, It’s easy to buy a few 2x4s, some dirt, and a few seed packets; that is most everything needed to build and plant a raised bed garden. But how many more steps are there between buying and harvesting healthy vegetables?

What about the generator we’ve been told we need? Home generators are relatively simple to operate: add fuel, open fuel lines, choke, turn on, pull starter, and it should fire up. But, doing this for the first time in the dark is not simple nor stress-free. (That is not the time to realize you never stored any fuel.) What are you going to power with it, why, and for how long? Take the time to figure it out before the power fails. Consider developing your skill set further–and here I need to take my own advice–and learn some basic maintenance.

Or, one of the common prepper flaws: owning lots of guns, lots of ammo, and never having taking a defensive firearms course. “I know how to shoot” many will say, but how about shooting effectively in a high stress, low light, fatigue filled situation, where people might be hurt? Sure you can shoot the center out of the paper targets every time. Sure you assume that if the SHTF you’ll be just fine. But have you ever practiced for failure? What have you really done to mentally and physically prepare the skill set that could protect your family?

The list continues. You have the great BOB; can you carry it? Sure it’s in a quality backpack, but have you put it on, cinched it up and walked any distance? What about good footwear? You bought good boots; but finding out they needed breaking in when you are a mile into your ten-mile trek, is too late.

It was easy to buy it, but investing the time to learn new things, with our busy schedules and hectic lives, is tough – really tough. Especially when it all has to be self-motivated, there’s no ‘financial’ return, and you’re learning it for something that might happen, someday, maybe. So how do we self motivate? ‘Because we should’ isn’t (usually) good enough. Everyone knows they should exercise, eat right, etc. but you need to be able to articulate your own reason and goal.

I don’t have any brilliant insights to give you. You have to find that motivation; start with your plan. Set short-term achievable goals, working toward a reachable long-term goal; continue to eat that elephant “one bite at a time.” Begin with the Five Basic Needs and build from there. Yes, there are certain things you have to ‘get’, but, more importantly, you have to develop the skills to utilize those things and prepare yourself mentally and physically for the tasks that may be ahead.

(Wednesday: A List)