Every home should be equipped with a survival medical kit, and that’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive supplies list. With the COVID-19 coronavirus on everyone’s mind, people are understandably growing more concerned about emergency preparedness.
While it’s true that overwhelmed healthcare systems may delay important medical treatment and lead to product shortages, these supplies aren’t just important to have during a pandemic. Rather, they can ensure that you’re always prepared to address a medical issue or emergency in your home, reducing the odds of serious complications and helping you to maintain your optimal health.
Survival First Aid Kit List
No home should be without a first aid kit. They can provide immediate assistance after a fall, injury, bee sting, burn, or other unexpected household incident. You can purchase a ready-made kit or assemble your own with the appropriate supplies.
They’re perfect for emergency preparedness because they last a long time and can help to prevent the types of infections and blood loss that necessitate clinical treatment.
The American Red Cross recommends the following supplies for a family of four:
- 25 adhesive bandages in various sizes
- 10 sterile gauze pads in multiple sizes
- 5 antiseptic wipe packets
- 5 antibiotic ointment packets
- 2 triangular bandages
- 2 large pairs of non-latex gloves
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
- 2 compress dressings
- 1 3-inch gauze roll bandage
- 1 4-inch roller bandage
- 1 10-yard roll of cloth tape
- 1 breathing barrier
- 1 emergency blanket
- 1 instant cold compress
- 1 set of tweezers
- 1 guide to emergency first aid
Check your first aid kit at least once every six months and look for any applicable expiration dates. Replace supplies as needed.
EpiPens (for Allergy Sufferers)
Over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and an EpiPen can literally be a lifesaver for someone experiencing a severe attack. The EpiPen auto-injector treats Type I allergic reactions like those resulting from insect bites, stings, drugs, and food interactions.
Because each EpiPen contains only a single 0.3mg dose of adrenaline, it can only be used once. For this reason, some medical experts recommend keeping two pens with you at all times and a third one inside the home. If you’re concerned about medical supply shortages, you can keep one or two extra in the home (4 to 5 total).
Just note that these pens have expiration dates of 2 to 3 years, so if you stockpile them for the sake of emergency preparedness, many of them will likely go to waste.
Inhalers & Nebulizers (for Asthma Sufferers)
If you suffer from only occasional asthma attacks and require short-term symptom relief, a single rescue inhaler may be sufficient even for several months. However, if you require an inhaler multiple times per week, you’ll need a longer-lasting daily control inhaler to sustain you for an extended period.
A typical inhaler is good for 120 to 200 puffs of salbutamol, and a typical use requires one to two puffs. A daily control inhaler can often sustain you for 6 months or more. But depending on the severity of your asthma and what your doctor prescribes, this type of inhaler may need to be refilled in as little as 60 days. If this is the case, you can ask your doctor to increase the controller medication so that you don’t have to refill as often. Be mindful of expiration dates.
In some cases, your doctor may also recommend a nebulizer. A nebulizer provides the same types of medication as an inhaler, but it can often be easier to use for individuals with severe asthma and small children who can’t properly use an inhaler yet.
If someone in the home falls victim to cardiac arrest, an automated external defibrillator (AED) can help save their life. It can take an average of eight minutes for emergency services to arrive after a 911 call (and possibly much longer when healthcare services are exhausted), but without a heartbeat, the victim’s chances of survival decline by 10 percent per minute. That’s not a great prognosis.
CPR can help keep blood pumping to vital organs while you wait for medics, but research shows that a combination of CPR and defibrillation greatly increases a victim’s odds of survival. That’s because CPR only slows down the degradation of the organs, but an AED—when used properly—can actually restart the heart.
The device scans the heart for a shockable rhythm and delivers electric shocks to restore normal function. Most AEDs are equipped with audible and visual coaching so that an untrained user can take action in an emergency. You can get the most value by purchasing a full AED package, which includes the defibrillator and numerous accessories for just a few dollars more.
Anyone at an elevated risk of cardiac arrest should have an AED in the home. This includes:
- Senior citizens
- People living with heart disease
- People with a history of heart arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation
- People who have previously experienced cardiac arrest
A CPAP Machine (for Sleep Apnea Sufferers)
Anyone suffering from obstructive sleep apnea should have a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine at the ready. This machine includes a hose connected to a mask or nosepiece, and it’s designed to maintain steady air pressure to the airway during sleep.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition. If left untreated, it can lead to elevated blood pressure, depression, and even life-threatening conditions like heart disease and stroke. By having a CPAP machine, you can help reduce the likelihood that you’ll need medical intervention for one of these conditions when hospitals are overwhelmed.
Keep all of your prescription medications filled, and don’t wait until the last minute to refill them if you don’t have to.
Pharmacies often won’t allow you to refill your prescriptions early, but if you have concerns about a supply shortage or you fear you won’t be able to leave your home as much, talk to your doctor and your pharmacist. They may be able to provide you with what’s known as an emergency exemption.
In addition, you’ll want to keep a variety of everyday medicines on hand for emergencies. These include:
- Acetaminophen medications like Tylenol
- Ibuprofen medications like Advil
- Cough medicines
- Electrolyte powders
- Antihistamines (for allergy sufferers)
- Hydrocortisone creams for rashes
Some of these medicines can have wider-reaching implications than just allergy relief. For example, acetaminophen can be useful for stopping or reducing the severity of a heart attack. As noted by Mayo Clinic and WebMD, it can be beneficial to take a baby aspirin if you feel a heart attack coming on. For best results, chew it rather than swallowing it whole.
Medical Monitoring Supplies
When medical services are in high demand, you may need to be more diligent about monitoring your own conditions at home. When you have a better idea of your own health, you can make more informed decisions about whether you really need to schedule that next check-up right away. The following medical monitoring supplies are among the essentials:
- An oral thermometer (non-mercury) for every home
- A blood pressure monitor for anyone living with hypertension
- A blood glucose monitor and test strips for diabetes sufferers
- A home EKG monitor may be recommended for people with severe cardiovascular disease
- An infant heart rate and oxygen monitor like the Owlet or Baby Vida may be recommended for premature babies or for those with breathing or heart conditions
Make sure to keep whatever monitoring supplies you need to assess your condition(s). Also, though it’s not a medical monitoring supply in the traditional sense, we recommend ensuring that your home has carbon monoxide detectors installed. CO poisoning claims over 400 American lives every year and leads to about 50,000 annual emergency room visits.
A Medical Alert System
For seniors and anyone with limited mobility or severe medical issues, a medical alert system is vital. It may be something as simple as a watch, a wristband, or a necklace with a medical alert button. Just press the button to connect with emergency services. There are even GPS-equipped versions that can track your exact location.
Some devices feature a two-way speaker and microphone that allow you to communicate with emergency services, and most are connected to popular cellular networks like AT&T or Verizon. This ensures that you can use the device anywhere without the need for a phone or Wi-Fi signal.
Preparedness Saves Lives
Whether you live with a chronic condition or you just want to ensure that your family is prepared for the next pandemic, it all starts with having the right survival medical supplies. Take inventory of what you already have, and then consider the supplies that you still need. Consider the unique medical needs of your family, and develop an emergency preparedness plan.
You may never need to press the emergency button on your medical alert bracelet or attach the AED pads to a loved one’s chest. But by simply having the survival medical supplies you need to respond in an emergency, you’ll sleep much better at night. Start preparing today, and make your health and well-being a top priority.