Bug Out Bag Essentials | Have You Thought Of This?
The MOST Essential Items For Your Bug Out Bag: Your Medications
By Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, ABIHM – April 22, 2017
People are increasingly aware that prepping is not just a paranoid activity for those who are concerned about apocalyptic events. For example, unanticipated and usual weather disasters have proven to be devastating to humans and animals alike: from cattle-killing blizzards in South Dakota, to earth-scorching fires in Oklahoma, to mudslides and sinkholes in California, to flash floods in Ohio. The importance of food and water storage is a given for most preppers. But don’t forget the most essential items for your bug out bag: your medications.
Most people taking daily prescription medications order their drugs through a 3-month mail-order program, usually covered by their insurance. When they are about to run out, they submit for a refill.
But what if you cannot refill your medication? What if the mail is shut down? What if there is a supply-chain issue due to electrical storms, a factory fire or a labor strike prohibited its manufacture? What if you suddenly lost your job or the place where you work goes out of business and you lose your healthcare coverage? Would you have your daily meds in your bug out bag?
The missing medications may cost you your life.
But Out Bag Essentials | Medication Essentials
First aid kits can be assembled with sporadically used items such as bandages, antibiotic ointment, and over-the-counter pain medications. But researchers at the Mayo Clinic reported that nearly 70% of Americans are on at least one daily prescription medication. Shockingly, they also discovered that 20% of people in the U.S. were taking five or more prescriptions every day. The most common drugs identified for daily use were antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioid pain killers.
And that was in 2013.
The number of those on 5 or more daily drugs is probably higher than that now.
While it’s never good to just stop a prescription drug, especially if you have been taking it for an extended period of time, running out due to an event outside your control can cause very serious complications.
One such medication is clonidine, a medicine with many trade names including Catapres, Kapvay, Nexiclone and others. Sudden stoppage of clonidine can result in rebound hypertension, where the heart races and the blood pressure soars to dangerous levels. If this condition is not quickly controlled, rebound hypertension can lead to organ damage, or even a heart attack or a stroke.
Other blood pressure medications that can cause rebound high blood pressure include α-methyldopa (Aldomet), and a long list of medicines called beta-blockers. This grouping of generic medications ends in the letters lol – propranolol (ex: Inderal), labetalol (ex: Trandate), metoprolol (ex: Lopressor, Toprol XL), and others.
Clonidine and beta-blockers are also used for conditions other than high blood pressure. For example, clonidine is prescribed for attention deficit disorders (ADHD), menopausal hot flashes, certain types of tics and to ease the symptoms of narcotic withdrawal. Beta-blockers are used for many different cardiovascular conditions including atrial fibrillation. But both of these drugs are recommended for migraines, anxiety and POTS syndrome. So, if you must be on one of these pills, don’t run out!
Bug Out Bag | Medications That Are Necessary For Life
While missing doses of blood pressure medication may lead to serious complications, there are a few classes of drugs that could literally lead to your demise if war, civic unrest or complex weather patterns disrupt your ability to obtain them.
Insulin: Insulin is a hormone that is essential for life. For those who have insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1), going for as little as 24 hours without insulin can lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. When insulin and fluids are available, this condition is medical treatable. But without access to insulin, the acidosis can worsen to the point of death, usually caused by dehydration or cardiac arrest.
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Thyroid medicine: Your thyroid, a gland located in front of your throat and above your sternum, produces thyroid hormone at varying dosages all day long. When your thyroid becomes dysfunctional, a discussion far beyond the scope of this article, your doctor will usually prescribe a thyroid hormone medication, such as Armorthyroid, Synthroid, Tirosint, Cytomel or one of several other options. In a catastrophe, if you are hypothyroid, you would likely live without your thyroid medication, albeit, not feel very well. But if you’ve had your thyroid gland removed due to an enlarged goiter or thyroid cancer, you must take thyroid medication to stay alive.
Seizure medications: There are many seizure medications on the market for a broad range of seizure disorders. But seizure drugs are also used for pain syndromes, such as low back pain, migraine headaches, and muscle spasms. For those who have grand mal seizures, also known as a generalized, tonic-clonic seizures, missing medications can lead to status epilepticus, a true medical emergency associated with significant morbidity and mortality. A seizure lasting more than 5 minutes, or two or more seizures occurring without a full recovery in between is also considered status epilepticus. Without treatment, many serious complications can arise, including permanent neurological damage and even death.
Asthma medications: It is true that you can live without food for 40 days, without water for four days, but only live for about four minutes without oxygen. For those who have severe asthma, “rescue inhalers” can literally be life-saving during a severe attack. Other typical asthma medications, such as inhaled or oral steroids, impact the adrenal glands. If suddenly stopped, a condition similar to Addison’s disease can result.
Transplant medications: When you get an organ transplant, your body experiences the new organ is a foreign protein and will set up an autoimmune attack to destroy it. Immunosuppressant drugs block this interface from happening. Stopping or missing one of these medications may cause your body to rejection the organ and sometimes, can lead to death. Imagine your body rejecting your heart, kidney or liver transplant. No matter what it costs, have at least a six-month supply of these medications on hand.
Protective Steps: What To Do About Your Meds
The above list of medications for your bug out bag is not meant to be all-inclusive. There are many other medications and drug classes that are critical to life in certain individuals.
But you get the drift: If you are taking a prescription medication that you literally cannot live without, you need take steps to have an extra supply on hand in the event of a household emergency, large or small.
Here are a few suggestions. If you have additional ideas, add them to the bottom of this blog:
- Build up a stash: Even if it you have to spend money out of your own pocket to purchase additional medication, save up and do it. Explain to your doctor what you want to do and Ask him/her to write a separate prescription to be filled at your local drug store. Buy as much as you can afford, and try to build up a 12-month supply. They rotate out the pills on a monthly basis, the same as you do with your food storage.
- Store in a cool, dry place. You may want to put the plastic pill bottles in an air-tight, zip-lock bag or glass jar, then store it in a cool place with a consistent temperature. Speak with your local pharmacist to determine if the pills would in anyway degrade if they were stored in the freezer.
- Expiration dates: The FDA requires the drug companies and supplement manufacturers to put an expiration date on all of their products. Expired medications have not necessarily lost their potency; the label simply guarantees the potency will remain stable until the date on the bottle.
However, far from losing potency at the expiration date, many prescription medications may retain their full potency for 10, 20, even 40 years.
Check this out:
“Eight long-expired medications with 15 different active ingredients were discovered in a retail pharmacy in their original, unopened containers. All had expired decades prior to the analysis. Three tablets or capsules of each medication were analyzed, with each sample tested 3 times for each labeled active ingredient. The researchers found that 12 of 14 compounds retained at least 90% of their potency 28 to 40 years after their expiration dates. Two compounds (aspirin and amphetamine) were present in amounts of less than 90% of labeled content. (source)
So if you miss an expiration date, especially during a catastrophic event, remember this article and don’t waste the pills.
AMAZON has a FULLY STOCKED BUG OUT BAG. But, of coures, it does not include your medications.
While you’re putting together your essentials for hunkering down during a disruptive event, take the time to consider any long term and essential medications you, or someone in your family, may be taking.
Your life, or the life of those you love, may literally depend upon it.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.