When disaster strikes, you’ve got to be ready to go. No one knows exactly what will happen or when, but one thing’s for certain: it’s coming. On doomsday, there’s nothing left to be done but grab your family and your bug out bag and execute your survival strategy.
When you’re considering your doomsday checklist, medical wellness is often overlooked. Sure, a first aid kit is a vital part of any bug out bag, but a true understanding of medical survival isn’t prioritized the same way self defense or navigation skills are. Even though you’re in less-than-ideal conditions, your body still has basic thresholds of health that need to be met. By taking a few preventative steps now, and changing the way you look at survival-based first aid, you up your chances of getting through (relatively) unscathed.
Staying On Top of Medical Care
Going to the doctor can be cumbersome, expensive, and an all-around hassle. When you feel like you’re in good health, it’s easy to neglect regular check ups. Too often, we only go to the doctor when something’s wrong, rather than staying on top of our health year over year.
In order to be well-informed about your health and to catch any potential problems early, you should be scheduling regular wellness checks based on the recommendation for your age and gender. Having regular conversations with your health provider allows you to stay on top of potential conditions before they require prescription intervention, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular risk factors, or pre-diabetes.
Part of managing your personal health also means maintaining a baseline of physical fitness. Not only will this help manage cardiovascular and muscular health, but it makes sure that you’re physically prepared for hiking and the manual labor required when you’re striking out. The first day of foot travel will be a rude awakening if you’ve been neglecting exercise for several years.
Packing a Strategic First Aid Kit
Building a first aid kit is an essential part of any prepper’s strategy. You need to be ready to deal with inevitable injuries that come from losing creature comforts to a breakdown of society. Common items included are gauze, medical tape, iodine or antiseptics, alcohol swabs, tourniquet, and pain relievers. If anyone in your party requires prescriptions, you should have a backstock of those, as well.
You also want to consider packing additional kinds of tape (electrical and duct) and some super glue; these items work well for sealing cuts that need help sticking together. You may also want to consider natural remedies for dealing with inflammation injuries such as tendinitis or minor strains. Turmeric and capsaicin are both alternatives to painkillers that are easy to pack in powder form and add to food.
Having the necessary information to treat more involved injuries such as large cuts, breaks and strains, or head injuries is also important. Taking emergency medical courses can help prepare you, but you’ll want to include a short synopsis of how to treat each injury on waterproofed notecards. Adrenaline and pain can cause the memory to cloud or compromise, and the information should be accessible to all members of the party, in case the medically trained person is the one with the injury.
Look at Food as First Aid
Food is probably one of the first things you addressed when you built your doomsday strategy. It’s necessary to survive, and it needs to be functional, lightweight, and high calorie. What people neglect, though, is looking at their food strategy as part of their first aid.
A balanced diet is a fundamental piece of any healthy lifestyle. Now, it’s not going to be possible to go to Whole Foods, select your produce, and cook a varied meal. You still need you food to function under extreme circumstances. You need to strike a balance between providing your body with what it needs while still maintaining the feasibility of your survival plan.
Making sure the body has sources of all the major macronutrients ensures that you won’t be struggling with digestion, energy, or stamina. You’ll want to educate yourself in edible plants, to supplement your primarily non-perishable diet. Hunting and gardening are also beneficial skills to have, particularly if the opportunity to be in stable environment presents itself. You’ll also want to put a multivitamin in your first aid kit to provide micronutrients as needed, and consider adding ginger or garlic tablets to help with immunity and digestion.
Comprehensive View of Health
Just as we have multiple facets of “well-being” that we take care of day-to-day, our post-disaster health and wellness needs to be multi-faceted, too. Having an effective first aid kit is an essential part of any bug out bag, but understanding how to use all the tools inside is almost more important. Make sure to educate all members of your party in basic first aid and provide cheat sheets.
Beyond responsive first aid, though, is taking care of the body. Things will invariably get rough for a while, but part of being prepared is doing the best you possibly can to keep your body strong and functional. Not only will you need an adequate caloric supply, but you’ll need to meet certain nutrient thresholds and be capable of supplementing your diet with fresh food as it becomes available.
If you’re set up to provide a baseline of preventative care to your body, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding major injuries, and you’ll heal faster when something does occur. Don’t be fooled into thinking a pack of gauze and some ibuprofen will solve all your problems. Be prepared.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.