If there’s one thing we get asked in email, it’s where to buy the medical supplies we talk about in some of our articles. A lot of is available at your local Walgreens, but a lot of it isn’t. So where can you find some of the stuff you need? Let’s take a look.
We’ve mentioned this before, but you can go to this site and buy “fish antibiotics,” which are literally the exact same thing you’d be prescribed in a doctor’s office. People like to discount “fish mox” because it’s just basic amoxicillin which isn’t very strong, but there are plenty of others there too, including:
- Sulfameth/Trimethoprim and MANY more
Now, before you run off and order one of everything, please understand that all antibiotics are not the same. Certain ones are used for certain things, at certain times. You need to be very clear about what is used for what, when, and how much. That means learning what each of these are, and what/how they are to be used. Cephalexin, for instance, is in a class of medication called cephalosporin antibiotics. These aren’t used for colds, flu, or other viral infections; if you use them improperly all you’ll do is make it easier to get an infection later that is antibiotic-resistant.
Medline is an excellent resource, as is the Physician’s Desk Reference.
IV Kits and Supplies
Depending on where you buy these things from, you may need a prescription (or be a doctor) to order them. There are, however, still places you can get them over the counter, to include everything you’d need to start an IV, saline bags, Lactated Ringer’s Solution, and more. Mountainside Medical, a company owned and operated by disabled American veterans, offers all of these supplies and much more, at a fairly reasonable price. You’ll want to spend a fair amount of time looking over all that they offer, including diabetic supplies, wound care, and everything else you could possibly need.
Pre-Made Medical Kits
Personally, I prefer to make my own kits for different purposes and locations (car, home, etc.) based on what I know I’ll need in them and what could happen in the area I’m in at the time. What I carry in my car isn’t going to be the same as what I carry in my everyday pack or purse, and that won’t be the same as what I have on hand on the farm. You’ll see a lot of kits out there that have a lot of stuff you won’t need, and not enough of what you DO need — and a lot of folks buy a big medical kit and call it good.
Keep in mind that you could get the biggest and best medical pack on earth, but your fancy kit is pointless unless you:
- Can actually get to it. It does no good in the back of your garage, your attic, or in with your “preps” in some underground bunker thing.
- Know exactly where every single item is. If you or someone you’re trying to help is bleeding, you don’t have time to fiddle around with a game of “which pocket did I put that in?”
- Be able to get out what you need quickly and with minimal effort. I’ve seen “medical bags” where everything was literally thrown into the main compartment of a backpack. Good luck finding something in that mess, especially when your adrenaline is running high, you’re injured, or you have someone dying next to you.
When it comes to having every possible thing in it, you’ll need to be realistic about your own level of knowledge/training, and what you would feasibly use. Suture kits are nice and all, but you’ll need knowledge and supplies to go with those. If you make your own packs, stick to your own level of knowledge and training and get supplies for things that could realistically happen in your day-to-day life. Don’t buy a bag with everything under the sun in it and then throw it in your garage, to be used someday when the proverbial feces fly into the air moving device, when you still haven’t learned where everything is and couldn’t use it properly if you did manage to find what you need. If you DO want to have the Ultimate Awesomeness Kit(tm), then get the training to go with it, and engage in activities that will require you to keep your knowledge fresh, practical, and usable.
You might have to look around a bit to find the right type of pre-made kit if you have your heart set on that. I wouldn’t necessarily buy it off the internet; I’d go somewhere that I can physically look at the supplies and their quantity/quality. If you live in the PNW, for instance, at certain gun shows there was an older couple who sold medical supplies both “a la carte,” and already put into packs. They had various sizes and levels of things available, so if all you needed was the ability to stop bleeding and get some vitals, you could do that. They also had packs that were extensive enough to pretty much do minor surgery, if you were so inclined. They carried a wide variety of books as well, that could help you get started understanding what all that stuff was. Other places you can look are prepper expos (more common in some regions than others), farm and garden shows, etc.
Co-Flex (Self-Adhering Bandages)
Co-Flex is nifty stuff that sticks to itself but nothing else, which makes it great for wrapping limbs, securing bandages, compression, etc. There’s just one problem; it’s pretty expensive under the Andover brand called “Co-Flex” — roughly $30 for about 5 yards worth.
Hop on over to your local livestock/ranch/farm store, however, and you’ll see a whole new ball game. The comparable 3M product is called Vetrap, and it’s literally $2-$4 for the same 5-yard length.
Speaking of farm and ranch stores, whether you own animals or not, you should get really familiar with both your local store and companies that sell livestock supplies online, such as the Jeffers Livestock site I linked above. You can get everything from latex or nitrile gloves to syringes, needles in various gauges, and all sorts of other consumable things you might need. They’re cheaper, less hassle to get, and at least out here in the country, no one bats an eye if you pick up a box of 50 lancets and pay cash. Hamby Dairy Supply is another good source for all sorts of things, including books and supplies for making cheese, soap, and beer along with bandages, Epsom salt poultices, and more.
Five years ago, I discovered couponing. I don’t mean the piddly kind of coupon that gives you ten cents off $10 of toilet paper, I mean real couponing. To demonstrate what I’m talking about, I’ll share a short experience I had. After learning how Walgreens runs their sales, what their coupon policy is, and how to maximize that for my advantage, I spent an hour planning a shopping trip for shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toothpaste. I spent less than $100, and I walked out with so much stuff that I didn’t buy any of those things again for the next 3 years. I still have a few things from that one shopping trip, five years later, and that’s after donating a few bags of stuff to firefighters working a wildfire in my area and letting a friend who needed help go “shopping” in my storage. And I wasn’t buying some generic stuff, either. This is the brand-name stuff you’re probably already buying.
The same goes for things like band-aids, gauze, tape, rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, hydrogen peroxide, Epsom salts, hand sanitizer, and many other things you might want to keep around, as well as regular canned goods, storable food, and other items you might need. If you aren’t couponing, you’re wasting your money. It’s that simple. If you’re looking to build up some storage fast, whether it be medical supplies or food, there is no better way than couponing for it.
Hopefully this helps a bit to get you started. If you have other sources for good medical supplies that are legal and open to the public, let us know.