Monday, September 17, 2012

Personal Medication Bag

Another National Preparedness Month task is to address two related but different items.  Your First Aid Kit (FAK) is not the vehicle for your day-to-day medicines in case of an emergency.  Your Personal Med Bag (PMB) is. Your preparedness provisions should contain both, and be constructed in consideration of the likely emergencies in your area.

Don't take any daily prescription meds?  Read this anyway, as it may apply to your use of over-the-counter meds or to a family member's preparedness.

My advice for your PMB is to go a little beyond the 72 hours suggested by FEMA. Food or water can be managed to stretch if needed.  Do you want to do the same for blood pressure meds? Insulin? Pain management meds? Maybe not. A situation may be bad enough that the '72 hours' is just to get you to a shelter but not enough to have your pharmacy's or MD's records available. That may take long enough for a disastrous spike in blood sugar or pressure. Not good. If you have chronic pain or have a family member suffering the pain of terminal cancer, do you want them in the same line as the drug-seeking addicts in hopes some bureaucrat can determine the difference?

I keep at least 2 weeks of my daily meds and one week of my 'as needed' meds in my PMB. If you have a physician who will entertain providing you a prescription for this contingency, that's great.  The next hurdle is whether your insurance will pay for it or you must take it out of pocket. If you're as forgetful as I am, it may not be a problem.  I usually have a few synthroid or clarinex left over at  the end of the month. Sometimes I call in the prescription a couple days early to save myself an extra trip to town. Having that little cushion can also be helpful if you have extended travel plans and you don't use a big chain pharmacy.

Are you prone to cold sores or other herpes infections? Ever had chicken pox? Emergencies are stressful, so you will probably have an outbreak or possibly a case of shingles.  A course of that as-needed Valtrex will save you a lot of discomfort!  For your own protection and to reduce the potential for confiscation, your meds in your PMB should be in bottles with the original prescription, and the labels should reflect a date within the last year. This is why I go through mine each September, if not more often.

You may want a few over-the-counter favorites in your PMB, too. I keep a few Advil, mucinex, cough suppressant and decongestant in case of catching a cold. There is a little bottle of allergy eye drops and one with just artificial tears.  I have tums, pepto tablets, lomotil, gas-ex, acidophillus and an acid blocker in case of gastrointestinal distress. You may have other ideas, but those are the most likely discomforts for me.

For most of my OTC meds and eye items, I've just taken a few individual use items and put them into another small container. Buying the 'travel' size of most of these is frightfully expensive. See if your favorite pharmacy has a free pill container -- the divided kind. If not, get a cheap one and stash your OTC meds in that.

I also a have a few 'favorite' first-aid items. I keep a few curad latex-free adhesive bandages, a small bottle of campho-phenique and a tube of triple antibiotic plus pain reliever ointment as well. I know they will work for me on cuts and scrapes.  Having the latex-free is important for me, as regular band-aids leave an itchy contact-dermatitis welt on me.

Your FAK is another animal altogether. I'll address that in my next posting.

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