How to Store Your Emergency Meds

A few years ago I had food poisoning with severe diarrhea.  After a couple of days, I found myself home alone, collapsed on the floor, unable to pull myself to standing.  I knew I needed fluid and electrolytes.  I even had made up oral hydration salts, proud of my cost-savings venture.  But they were high in my medicine closet and I wasn’t able to pull myself to standing to get them or the faucet or a container to mix them up in. There were no sodas or juices, since I don’t use them.  Now I keep a bottle of Pedialyte in drinkable form on the floor of my pantry.  If I can crawl, I can get to it.

We have all heard that we should keep medicine locked in a medicine chest, if not in the humid bathroom, then somewhere out of reach. (For those of us who have both conventional and herbal medications, the sufficiently large medicine chest hasn’t been built! )  That is fine for infrequently used toxic  prescriptions.  But don’t do that with emergency medicines.  Keep those where you are most likely to use them.

Plantago major Image taken by me on 20 March 2...
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That means that if you are deathly allergic to bee stings, you might want to carry an epi-pen in your gardening apron (and make sure you have lots of plantain around.)  Or your emergency asthma inhaler if Spring pollens leave you gasping.  If asthma strikes at night, keep the inhaler near your bed. Wear a nitroglycerine pendant for cardiac emergencies. If arthritis is worse in the morning, keep your turmeric honey and a spoon in the bedroom.  Get extra prescriptions so you can keep emergency medicine where you need it.

Bandages and disinfectant should be located near your power tools and in your kitchen.  They don’t all have to be in one spot, and you can have them in the bathroom too.  Arnica gel or a die de jiao (trauma liniment) is well-located near the bathtub or stairs, if slipping is an issue.

If you are diabetic, carry glucose with you.  I don’t recommend carrying insulin unless you have to (if you must use it.)  If you do, label it in obvious letters:  Not for emergency use, administer sugar instead.  I recently role-played a diabetic slipping into a coma for a first aid class of medical professionals, and nearly everyone reflexively wanted to inject me with insulin instead of giving glucose, which could have killed me.  This actually happened to the brother of a Facebook friend, and he was in a long term coma because well-meaning friends didn’t understand that glucose is for emergencies, while insulin is designed for long term problems.  Indeed when I was training as an EMT, we were taught that all diabetic comas should be treated with glucose- even if the person had ketoacidosis, lowering sugar was a long term strategy, whereas withholding glucose could potentially kill some one.  Follow with food that has protein, fat and fiber so the diabetic won’t crash.

With atopic allergies like penicillin or latex, a medical alert bracelet is a good idea.  I might carry a tiny CPR kit with a nonlatex glove on my keyring.

Even a toddler can be taught to dial 911 and ask for help if a parent or babysitter is not responsive.  An elder who lives alone may be better off with a medical alert pendant that will automatically dial for help.

Most of my medicine is herbal.  Herbal emergency products should also be located where they will be used.  But most herbal medicine is best for long term use.  There are times when speed will be of the essence.  Make sure your emergency medicines are at hand where you will need them.


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