14 March 2011

Home Medical Cabinet

Dear Lissy,
We've started another week of school, and excitement is running high.  We are covering Athens, Sparta, and the Persian Wars, which have been eagerly anticipated topics for your brothers.  Matt is busy making himself a paper mache helmet, greaves, and a shield; while Nate is developing a board game based on the battle of Thermopylae.  Since Spartan girls were active in athletics, I'm hoping to go for walks together and teach you HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) this week.

With all the emphasis on sports and battles, I decided it was high time to help you put together your household medical supplies.  I like to keep my supplies separated by category in labeled shoe boxes stored on a high shelf.  I keep a list of supplies for each category tucked right into the appropriate box.

I prefer being well-stocked on medical supplies in advance so there's a minimum of fuss and expenditure when a need arises.  You may choose to keep just a few basics or a pre-made kit when you're first starting your home, and add "as needed". To try to stock all of these items at once would be very expensive!  This looks like a lot typed out, but in reality it only takes up one shelf of a cabinet.  In my mind, the more emergencies you can anticipate, the fewer true emergencies you'll have.

Bandaging:  I also keep just a tin of assorted band-aids and a tube of antibiotic ointment in the downstairs bathroom medicine cabinet for normal cuts and scrapes.  A facecloth with soap and water work just fine to clean out the wound.

  • Assorted Bandages  Consider adding waterproof, fingertip & knuckle, and the extra tough varieties if you have boys!
  • Butterfly bandages or Steri-strips  You won't need these often, but when you do you'll be VERY glad to have them on hand.  They hold the edges of wounds closed until you can get to the ER or Dr.'s office for stitching.
  • Liquid Bandage
  • Blister treatment patches 
  • Bactine, not Peroxide!
  • Alcohol to sterilize tweezers, scissors, etc.
  • Gloves (in case you're treating someone who is not a family member or dealing with an infection)
  • Triple anti-biotic ointment (honey or fresh EV Olive Oil can be used in a pinch)
  • Tweezers and pin
  • Pack of sterile razor blades
  • Standard gauze pads in 2 x 2 sizes for use with Bactine or alcohol
  • Sterile non-stick Gauze pads in 2 x 2 and 4 x 4 sizes  Pantyliners or thin feminine napkins cut with alcohol-sterilized scissors will do in a pinch.
  • First aid tape
  • First aid scissors
  • Roller bandage
  • ACE elastic bandage
  • craft sticks for splinting
  • 2-3 tampons  The cotton inside makes excellent packing for nosebleeds or deep wounds.  The tubes can be used as splints in a pinch.
  • 2-3 heavy flow feminine pads  These are commonly used to put pressure on badly bleeding injuries
  • Small disposable cup (for covering puncture wounds without removing the object)
  • Controversial!  Keep the end (or entirety) of a narcotic pain killer prescription in a locked location.  If you have a major incident (broken tooth, etc) ask the doctor if you can take it without affecting further treatment.
Asthma, Allergies, and Skin
  • Benadryl, both adult & child strength  Consider keeping this on hand even if no one in your home has allergies...it can save a life!
  • Eyedrops for allergy relief  I also keep a plain eye drop solution in the washroom medicine cabinet for everyday use.
  • Gel or rice mask to warm for sinus relief
  • Saline spray,drops, or neti pot labeled for each family member
  • Hydrocortisone cream for reactive/allergic skin rashes and insect bites
  • Grapefruit SEED extract  (GSE) and a printout describing how to use it
  • Lamisil or GSE for athletes foot, jock itch, and yeast rashes under breasts or around pantylines on legs.  A thick, shaggy build-up of heel skin is often caused by yeast, and can be smoothed by using athlete's foot cream as well.
  • Medicated powder
  • Salicylic acid patches for wart removal (or use duct tape in a pinch)
  • Aloe with Lidocaine for 1st degree burns or sunburns ONLY
  • Prid (drawing salve for boils)
  • Sunburn relief:  1 oz of 1% hydrocortisone cream in 1 bottle of witch hazel, shake well, and place into a spray bottle.  This allows an even coating of medication without having to touch the victim.  Check with your pediatrician to ensure any small children are old enough for hydrocortisone.
  • Spare inhaler for anyone in your home that uses one.  If a friend's child is regularly at your home, ask if she would be willing to leave an inhaler with you. 
  • 911 meds for anyone in your home that requires them.  Epi-pen, Prednisone, etc.
Tummy Relief
  • Antacid, chewable (also mint tea sachets)
  • Gas-X 
  • Pepto Bismo, chewable (also/or in washroom medicine cabinet)
  • Ginger tea sachets for nausea
  • Dramamine for motion sickness/vertigo
  • Immodium (also BRAT diet:  bananas, rice, applesauce/juice, toast; yogurt)
  • Ex-Lax (also berries, prunes, raisins, coffee)
  • UTI treatment card:   Remove all sugar and sugar substitutes from your diet for 1 week.  Drink up to a gallon of clear caffeine free liquids, including cranberry juice per day.  Make a cream of tartar "tea" with 1 tsp. of cream of tartar in a cup of warm water to relieve symptoms.  2-3 drops of GSE in a cup of green tea three times a day will cure most infections.  If symptoms are not gone after 3 days, see RN for antibiotic treatment.
  • Treatment kit for vaginal yeast infection or instructions for using GSE
  • Midol or similar
  • Hot water bottle or rice pack
  • Ear pain drops (warmed olive oil will work in a pinch)
  • Eyewash cup
  • Cotton balls and sterile swabs
  • Abreva, if a family member gets cold sores (or GSE diluted in green tea)
  • Cankersore medication (or GSE diluted in green tea)
  • Dental emergency kit  I cannot stress how important this is to have ON HAND.  If you break a tooth or lose a filling the pain is almost unbearable. 
  • Chloraseptic, lozenges or spray (alternately or in addition gargle GSE/green tea)
  • Cough suppressant (liquid and lozenges)
Colds,Flu, and other nasties
  • Thermometer
  • Notepad  It is very easy to lose track of who took what medications at what time as well as temperatures.  Write it down!
  • Nasal aspirator if infant or small child lives in home
  • Multi-symptom relief, day and night formulations, enough to treat every adult in your household simultaneously  I choose one without acetaminophen or ibuprofen so I can dose that separately.
  • Infant and/or child's multi-symptom medication, enough to treat every child in the home simultaneously   I choose one without acetaminophen or ibuprofen so I can dose those separately.
  • Acetaminophen for every age in household (also/or in washroom medicine cabinet)
  • Ibuprofen for every age in household (also/or in washroom medicine cabinet)  There is a danger inherent to using ibuprofen or aspirin during influenza with children.  Talk to your pediatrician
  • Large packet of herbal or glycerine throat lozenges such as Ricola or Breezers  These help alleviate discomfort from post-nasal drip.  Give small children a half-frozen sippy cup of juice.
  • Cough expectorant/suppressant combo for each age in your home  I also keep JUST suppressant in the ENT box. 
  • Vicks Vaporub
  • Emesis bags  We use empty wastebins or buckets for vomiting, but if you have to make a car ride, the disposable emesis bags from either airlines or your doctor are nice to have on hand.
  • Pantry/freezer supplies:  Cans of ginger ale and Coca-cola, apple and orange juice concentrates, popsicles or sherbet, plain crackers, canned or frozen soup assortment (I prefer barley to rice or noodles in soup because it stabilizes blood sugar), 3-5 complete meals in freezer in case Mom is sick.  I try to have these items stocked by Oct. 1st.
  • Instructions from doctor on how to treat common complications.  If you have a child or spouse that regularly develops conditions related to a common flu or cold, write down how to treat it as well as symptoms that signal it's time for a trip to the clinic.  Matt gets hyperemesis with vomiting and reactive airway disorder with chest congestion, for example
Emergency Preparedness:  This is gravy...we're still working on this for our family.  We would have to be in a world of hurt to actually need these items.  However, in the case of a massive disaster like an earthquake, large hurricane, or warfare, we would be exceedingly glad to have these extra items.
  • 30 day supply of all prescription meds
  • Where There Is No Doctor, currently the definitive book on medicine in places where hospitals are unavailable or overwhelmed.
  • Water filter or treatment tablets
  • Spare bottle of GSE  GSE is both a powerful antibiotic and antiviral preparation.  It can be taken in water or used topically in many, many ways.  
  • Woundclot or similar dressings  These dressings have saved many military personnel during the last 5 years.  Most are capable of controlling arterial bleeding for several hours.  They can be very pricey, but 1 or 2 in an emergency kit are a nice bonus.
  • Suture/syringe kit, either multi person or 1 small kit per family member  Because sterile supplies (or any supplies at all) are at a premium during times of national duress, these kits provide the basic tools needed for EMT level medical care on your family...suturing, drawing blood, starting an IV, etc.  They aren't intended for you to use yourself (unless you're trained), but for use on you or a family member by a trained medical provider. Look for kits with scissors and a hemostat since both are almost a must for suturing.  
  • Filled prescription of a basic antibiotic
  • Face masks, gloves, and heavyweight garbage bags
For all of our other first aid needs -- car, camping, and hiking -- we buy the appropriate pre-packed kit.  I keep a fairly substantial kit in the car we purchased when Daddy was a scout troop leader.  I've used it multiple times and have been very glad to have the larger assortment to work from.  There are a couple of sources online for replacing the individual packets of medication, creams, and wipes that are used to stock the kits.

Hoping you and your family will never need even half of these items!

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