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In an emergency, one of the first things you need to have available is a first aid kit. Food and water are crucial to have as the hours go by, but if there are injuries, treating them can be a matter of immediate life or death. Depending on the situation, if it is a major disaster, it could be days before professional medical help can reach you and your family. For even minor injuries you’ll want to be able to do whatever you can – have supplies available and know how to use them.

Experts recommend having a first aid kit and home and in your car. Some people might also want to have a kit to keep at work or school, or keep a few items in their purse or backpack. Also, you will probably want to have a larger kit to keep in your home, and a smaller kit to carry in your bug out bag, should you need to leave home.

What should a first aid kit contain? You can buy a very basic kit from a store that will be sufficient to get started, and they aren’t that expensive. As you use things up in the basic kit, like the adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, or alcohol swabs, you can buy more of the individual items to put in the kit, and you can expand your first aid kit as your budget allows. A well-stocked first aid kit could contain sterile dressings, antibiotic towelettes, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, bandages in various sizes, emergency masks, scissors, tweezers, petroleum jelly, a thermometer and various non-prescription drugs, like a pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication, laxative, and antacid.

Any non-prescription medicines for your medical kit, such as aspirin or Ibuprophen (or other pain relieving drug), an antacid, and anything else used regularly, including vitamins and other supplements, can be easily acquired.

Carefully consider how to tailor your first aid/medical kit to your family’s specific situation. Think of the needs of each person in your family. Does anyone have a special medical condition that should be planned ahead for? Or does anyone take any medicine that they would need in an emergency? For example, is there a diabetic in the family who uses test strips regularly? Maybe you can put an extra glucose monitor an some test strips in your kit. Or does anyone wear glasses? If so, have extra contact lenses and supplies, or an older pair of glasses that could be used in an emergency, in your medical kit.

Prescription drugs are more difficult to get (than non-prescription drugs) for an emergency medical kit, but they are even more important. In a disaster they would be much harder to replace or do without. So how can you get a stockpile of prescription medicines? First step would be to check with your doctor who prescribed the drug. Sometimes a doctor will give you a partial prescription, preferably enough for a 7-10 day supply. If your doctor is unwilling to give you some extra medicine for emergency purposes, there are some other things you can do.

First, you can talk to your pharmacist about the situation. Explain that you are trying to have some of the prescription ahead for an emergency, and sometimes if you are paying cash for the medicine they will sell you enough for just a week or two. If you want to have your insurance cover the costs, check with your insurance provider about any provisions they have for emergency preparedness. If they don’t have an option set up for this, you can still build up a stockpile of your prescription medicines by refilling your prescriptions as soon as they are eligible for a refill – often 3-4 days before the previous refill runs out. Those “extra” pills can be set aside and saved for an emergency.

Order a larger supply at one time – If your doctor will write you a prescription for a 3 months’ supply instead of just one month that will give you extra medicine ahead that can be put in your medical kit. Also, if the medicine is one that can be taken in various dosages, have your doctor write it for the larger amount if possible – for instance, if the drug can be taken 2 or 3 times a day, depending on pain, if your doctor will, have him write it for the largest reasonable amount. You would continue to take only take the amount you need, and the extra pills can go into your medical kit. Sometimes doctors can give patients samples of the medicine they will be taking. These are packaged and provided by the drug companies and would be great to add to your supply of emergency drugs. Remember that it’s important to always get your prescriptions refilled in a timely manner so that you aren’t caught without important medicines in an emergency.

Of course, be sure that all drugs (both prescription and non-prescription) in your kit are in their original packaging or accurately labeled, including a clear expiration date. Check your medical supplies regularly and rotate them so that your first aid/medical kit is always up-to-date. Put a kit at home, in the car, and anywhere else you spend time regularly, and if there is a medical emergency, you’ll be prepared.

Do you have any additions or questions?

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