Prepper Medical Myths That Drive Me Nuts!

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Editorโ€™s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Huples. In this article, Huples address some medical myths that he believe is being advanced through some of the information on prepper sites and his perspective on steps you might need to take after a disaster.


First off please do not take this as encouragement or advice. This article is strictly theoretical so stay safe and legal!

My background is a couple of decades in trauma intensive care nursing and recently the excellent article on this site Ultralight Get Home Bag List prompted me to make a long-winded critique comment in which I said “One N95? Carry ten. Pandemic one is worse than none. Hum. Maybe an article about that is needed!” and so this is that. I also have a few things to say about wound care, hand washing, dealing with the dead, euthanasia, and suturing based on reading and viewing a few prepper articles.

Supplies below are obtainable from a Pharmacist or a friendly nurse but the suggestions to obtain prescription medications and equipment is, as I said, theoretical, and do not do so as it is likely to be both illegal and dangerous.

I look forward to the comments and I expect you all to be rough on me ๐Ÿ™‚

N95 Masks

These are seen as the gold standard for pandemics and gas/smoke situations.

For gas/smoke they might help a bit but frankly a wet bandanna or a specific smoke hood/gas mask is the prep.

In pandemics they reduce but never eliminate the chance of droplet infection. The 95 means 95% of suspend particulate in the air won’t be inhaled IF you are using it right. So avoid heavy breathing and looking into people’s mouths!

In a pandemic you will need these. I’d suggest 100 per individual for urban preppers. More if you can get them as their cash value will soar.

In my get home bag I have four not one. They last about 20 minutes to one hour depending on your activity level. You breath out moisture. They rapidly fail when damp. They won’t be of much use beyond that except as a reminder to never, ever touch your face/hair. In rain, especially heavy rain keep 6-12 feet away from people and you will be fine without a mask. In dry conditions stay 12-20 feet away.

3M 8511 Particulate N95 Respirator with Valve

Shave your mustache and beard if you feel the need to use one.

Put it on with the bottom strap under your ears/on your neck. Then pull the top strap over your ears and touch only the nose bridge area (it should be metal) and tighten it by pressing. After this do not touch it except to discard. Wash your hands, remove the bottom strap pulling it over your head, and then pull it swiftly off using the top strap. Never, ever treat the discarded mask as anything but a germ laden death trap. Into a plastic bucket by dropping it in and then close it tightly. Then wash your hands.

They cannot be reused and they should never be dangling under your chin and then reused. Do not draw lips on them either. It looks cute but puts you at risk. They are ideal to put on if fleeing a train or stadium. They are required to deal with new people or the ill.

Wound care

Some people seem to believe that antibiotic ointments are antibiotics and seem determined to use them for all wound care. The amount of antibiotic is minimal.

suture-259662_640

There are two types of wounds – superficial and deep. Clean both with sterile normal saline [0.9%]. The deeper ones really need flushing. The superficial wounds dab away with sterile gauze. Remove all foreign objects using your tick forceps (you have these right?). Use antibiotic ointment to cover superficial wounds and burns. Lightly apply it not thickly. Cover lightly if large and leave open if small. Reapply three times a day.

Deep wounds should never have antibiotic ointment put in them. It is not sterile and is really hard to remove when doing three times a day cleaning. Nor should you shove tampons, etc in unless you can easily remove them and the bits of cotton wool that flake off. Use saline and squirt it in.

Remember blood is dramatic and always looks much more than it is. In survival if the patient is talking to you it is not the time to panic and if they are unconscious should you be using supplies on them at all?

Loosely pack all deep wound fully with sterile dressing gauze or those quick blood stop sterile packages. Around deep wounds and burns the antibiotic ointment is awesome to promote healing. Yes use tampons if you have no real gear but I’d not count on survival as likely. If you have real antibiotics use them on people with deep wounds day one.

For deep and superficial wounds I use 3% hydrogen peroxide for the first cleaning. Bubbles and does not hurt. Great to push out debris but then flush well with saline as it will retard healing. However debris left inside the body will cause sepsis and death.

Hand Washing

Few prepper videos ever show hand washing but it is the single most important medical prep there is.

In most scenarios a simple bottle of hand sanitizer will work but plain old soap and water works better, is cheaper, and can be made long after Costco closes. Sure you can make alcohol and use it but I’d rather drink my post SHTF alcohol and sell it. Basic hand washing before eating and drinking seems forgotten by many yet hand to mouth spread of germs is one of the most common way people die in many less developed parts of the world. Boil your water but wash your hands first every time!

For medical stuff have all rings, watches, paracord bracelets off, and wash for two minutes with soap under running water starting at the finger tips and going up to both your elbows. Do this if a radiological or biological event has occurred before entering your retreat and do it again after changing your clothes.

Dealing with the Dead

BurialAfterDisaster

The problem is likely not germs or disposal as is often thought. It is the post STHF Coroner!

Avoid them wherever possible especially if they are moldy or wormy. If a loved one dies during a pandemic photograph their illness, take dated notes, and then use trash bags with duct tape to make a body bag. Remove them and bury them 3 feet (6 to 10 feet is ideal) underground away from water sources. Cover this with heavy wood and rocks. Photograph everything in case a post SHTF Coroner shows up. You do not routinely need an N95 mask or gloves for the freshly dead unless it is a pandemic. The dead will expel gas and body fluids. That will freak you out until you get used to it. If you leave them a few hours they will go rigid and are much easier to move but beware as they will be dead weight!

Euthanasia

This remains illegal so I am in no way suggesting it as a solution.

Theoretically I would have an ample stock of rapid acting insulin {Humulin R} and a syringe. Injecting 1-2 ml of the 5ml stock into a vein will likely cause overwhelming glucose movement and rapid death. Expect a seizure but they won’t feel anything and death will be rapid. 1ml is 100 units. A lot of nonsense is said about storing insulin but it is fine at temperatures below 20C so use a root cellar in hot climes. As with everything it will expire gradually so just up the dosage.

The newly dead by this method are also edible so a theoretical solution to pet concerns in a really bad SHTF scenario. Again photograph them (humans not Fido!) and then after they are dead. Do not mention euthanasia or insulin ever to anyone. As I said this is theoretical but if you have to kill only a bullet is nicer than this. Lots of aspirin and Tylenol works but they cause a hideous death that is prolonged. Massive narcotics would be ideal if available but insulin will be much faster.

Suturing

This seems to becoming a growth area in prepping yet steri-strips work better and are less invasive for smaller wounds. The October 2015 Apocabox had some cheap ones (sorry Creek!) but most nurses can grab much better ones.

Practice and use sterile sutures. Do not pull them tight as you want the edges of the wound to be touching but not rammed hard together. Remove them Day 7 or 14 and take alternate ones out the first days. Stop if obviously infected. Treat as fresh wound and consider opening it up and flushing with saline again and restarting the suturing. If you use normal sewing thread please, please boil it and needle for at least 30 minutes before using it and avoid touching it afterwards. Sterile is the goal not merely clean for anything you insert into the human body in a medical situation.

Take a course in wilderness medicine but really you need to talk an ED or ICU nurse into joining your group. MDs and Vets are great but many of us nurses are the ones who actually deal with the stuff and figure out how to treat rather than just ordering treatment.

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23 Comments on "Prepper Medical Myths That Drive Me Nuts!"

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TheMountainRN
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Ironic to find many myth in an article on mythbusting. First, N95 only require in closed environment not in open area. Cotton mask have show some efficiency in the disaster literature. Also, on my last fitting i ask how long they can last. If no structural damage to them and they stay on the whole time up to 8 hour. The 20 min is associated to surgical mask. Also they cannot be used in an hypoxic environment. The seal they do would put someone unconscious in matter of min if the seal is proper. Wound care does not need any… Read more »
tman
Guest

I’m not game for euthanasia.

Huples
Guest

It is illegal and many consider it unethical. I am in no way suggesting it. However if I am burned over most of my body I’d like a way out of the pain in SHTF. It is something we should consider even if the answer is never.

Huples
Guest
Thanks for the reply MountainRN and I love your stuff. Sorry about the long winded reply and please understand i am talking both to you and the general audience. I get it that you get it! 8 hours is pushing it if you are doing anything other than sitting at a desk writing. They get damp quickly from breathing. Does your hospital use 8 hour shifts? That might explain the figure in these $ strapped days! I am sure in reality the maximum safe zone is between 1 hour and 8 hours but the risk of fatigue causing hand touching… Read more »
lfhpueblo
Guest
I agree about the mask in an outside situation. I don’t think most people realize how far, wide, strong and fast a big sneeze can travel. So if you can see people, they likely can see you as well. If they then had a big sneeze and you didn’t have a mask on, I don’t think you’d likely have enough time to get one on, especially if mother nature helps it on its’ way towards you with a good breeze. I say better safe than sorry. I also agree on the moisture breathed out compromising the effectiveness of any mask… Read more »
Arcangel911
Guest
I guess I should have been more specific with my idea of antibiotic cream in earlier reply to another post as limiting it’s use. Although, used sparingly, if your going to be treking, hiking and running home… the best defense is a good offense. A superficial wound can be just cleaned with soap and water and bandaged. But if the pus starts to set in, a little extra I think would help. No sense in losing your health on your way home. The last thing I would want is anyone showing up at home after bugging out for the last… Read more »
Huples
Guest

Very true Arcangel911. For superficial grazes and minor cuts clean it out and apply cream (antibiotic cream works well) in a thin layer. Clean it off three times a day and reapply. Keep it covered. The antibiotic part really does nothing much but as a skin lubricating agent it is good. My concern came from some bug out videos showing people carrying sachets of it and I was worried they’d squirt it into deep wounds and trap dirty foreign objects inside.

AtomicMetroid
Guest

This just isn’t realistic.
Most people aren’t gonna have access to stuff like this. Especially months after a SHTF scenario.
It would be better to show people how to use items that are common(depending where you are). Like using fishing line to sew a cut or natural antibiotics that can be found or made. Or how to use tree sap to close wound if you have nothing else. You all are gonna be screwed if SHTF. But for me, that will be fine because I need your stuff.

Huples
Guest

It is very realistic if you are a Prepper to have some or all of this stuff before shtf.
Long term you might be right about going natural but if you read the article’s introduction you will see why I did not write the article you wanted.
I did not address mental health issues so I won’t bite to your closing odd remarks

Jay_Sherman
Guest
Best way to prevent infection is to let the wound bleed a little- rather than stopping the bleeding immediately (unless we’re talking massive wound)- The flowing blood pumps out all the crud. I see people who get a cut and stop the bleeding immediately; they are always the ones who end up with infections. And man! If articles like this were the winners, I’d hate to see the losers! All this crap is just totally unrealistic. In a true SHTF scenario, there is going to be NO WAY to carry all the crap that these various articles recommend; and likely,… Read more »
Huples
Guest
Hi Jay, Thanks for the feedback. I can only assume Lemmy’s untimely death is making everyone irritated! “You win some, lose some, all the same to me, The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say,” ๐Ÿ˜‰ You are very wrong in saying letting it bleed a bit is the best response. It is a good response but for deep wounds caused by none sterile penetration you have to ensure there is nothing external and dirty remaining inside the wound or you will die. Leaches work but they need help ๐Ÿ™‚ The article is not about first aid,… Read more »
Jay_Sherman
Guest
Hello Huples! Awww, no, the article didn’t upset me- and I didn’t mean to criticize YOU personally- as you said, for someone in your particular position, and with your background, I’m sure what you say is very appropriate- and it is very kind of you to be prepared to help others. It’s just that, to the average person, such an article likely has little relevance- I tend to think that many prepper types are just “dreamers”- caught up in a little subculture ; thinking that they are prepared to hop in the SUV at a moment’s notice with a “bug-out… Read more »
Huples
Guest
Thanks Jay, Appreciated. A fair number of none health care trained Preppers seem (by videos) to have a possibly unrealistic goals and some have equipment for advanced trauma. I just wanted to reach out a bit as frankly the obsession with antibiotic ointment and Israeli trauma bandages annoys me. Clean your hands a lot and really clean wounds by bleeding and powerful flushing before shoving stuff in is the take home I guess:-) The other stuff is just food for thought. I’m preparing for the end of everything and hoping it won’t be that bad. I cannot drive as I… Read more »
Jay_Sherman
Guest
Thanks, Huples- and a happy New Year to you too! I really do appreicate what you are trying to do- I clicked on the article (Linked on either Lewrockwell or Rense.com- I forget which) because I liked the idea of you addressing the (medical) myths. And I’m certainly no eggspurt- but I do agree with you 100% about people relying on antibiotic ointment as a cure-all- when in-fact, it can indeed do more harm than good- as you pointed out. I remember, as a child, my mother used to treat every minor wound of mine with a litany of stuff-… Read more »
Chuck Findlay
Guest
(I’m beginning to think that “preppers” will be the least prepared, because they will be weighed down by tons of crap) Only if they bug-out with a backpack and a rifle. But most of us will stay home and likely have a basement full of supplies to draw from so it is realistic to expect people to have a supply of medical items. PS” Another name for bugging-out is a refugee, and history shows us that refugees are at the absolute bottom of the list as far as survival goes. It’s sad that TV, Prepper fiction books, numerous U-Tube videos,… Read more »
Huples
Guest
Hi Chuck, Good points. Tactically my home is safer than the two retreats, at least initially. I think the country farm and the cottage will get hit by locals very early on but the house is solid and a good local community here. I have supplies buried at all three places in areas that I can safely get to if the place is unsafe. It depends on the situation but I know I like having my preps at hand and enjoy looking them over. That’s the hobby bit! For 2016 I intend to get this bad habit fixed and bury… Read more »
Defiant
Guest

This was a terribly written article.

Huples
Guest

Sorry

NewDadPrepper
Guest

Great article! Definitely takes dealing with these post SHTF events to a whole new, and more real, level.

Huples
Guest

Thanks. Appreciated. I’m hoping those with current skills in wood working, hunting, metal work, food preserving, etc might consider doing something similar to help me learn and think about the issues in actually doing their work in a bad shtf scenario. Books and videos are okay but skilled people must look at many of them and choke! Maybe not

Kifflette
Guest

Do NOT use tampons. They are a strong soaker and will pull blood out instead of holding it in place to clot and seal the vessels. The aim is not to ‘hide’ the bleeding, the aim is to STOP the bleeding.

Huples
Guest

Thanks. I’d not planned on using them but now you mention it that is very true.

Kyle Kelly
Guest

Some good information but was turned off by the condescending tone which sadly is typical of nurses, doctors and paramedics so I’m not really surprised.

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