Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 9 and still counting

Well, yesterday's stock market dip has got our attention, yes? Things are going to be starting to get a little rough for some folks. While we were in the city, the local radio was saying that the homeless shelter has had a 121% increase in families seeking shelter in July & August.

As important as the economic current events are, I'm still focused on preparing for an event that will significantly impact us where we live. Thank you all for your suggestions for topics including: first aid, gardening, books, and security. My ideas have also included food foraging, games that teach, and old time skills.

With these things in mind, today's topic is First Aid.

Let me start by saying I have no particular expertise in first aid, I'm writing about my life experiences, what my family does to prepare and ideas I've picked up on the internet. I encourage anyone and everyone to take first aid classes and learn about herbal and back-woods alternatives. This is the stuff of volumes of books and can't be covered in a blog post.

I've found that quantity really counts for a lot in home storage of first aid. When you have a serious injury, you don't just need the contents of your first aid kid, you need boxes of stuff to see the process through. For instance DD17 was injured this summer and had 4 incisions that reached into the center of her bone. We were conservative in our use of bandages while keeping everything as clean as possible, we used 5 boxes of 3x3 gauze pads (125 pads), 2 bottles of hydrogen peroxide, and 4 ace type bandages (to keep the hand washing and line drying going). This is the amount used for one injury for one month. That's expensive and the need didn't coincide with our financial ability to buy those things. Of course we bought them anyway and scrimped elsewhere.

Mr. Greenjeans was put in charge of updating the first aid kit recently. He is the one who has been a back country guide and has had advanced first aid. He is not through packing the kit - just out of money. Notice that there are no band-aids in our kit. Building the kit on a budget he says those are just convenience items and we make our own. However last week after a day of picking, hauling, and slicing apples, I cut two fingers very deeply with a sharp knife. I wanted band-aids and didn't want to fiddle with making them. They are on the grocery list.

Mr. Greenjean's First Aid kit beginnings in a little tote box:

A basic first aid book,
waterless hand sanitizer
box of safe skin exam gloves,
bottle of spray hydrogen peroxide
bottle of spray benadryl
aloe vera jell
iodine packets
non-stick pads
gauze pads
roll bandage that sticks to itself
medical tape
Artificial tears
medicated tooth ache swabs
tooth repair kit
eye glasses repair kit
paint stir sticks (for supporting breaks or sprains)

He wants one of those portable defibrillators that are out now that anyone can buy.

What we will add to this kit:

spray sanitizer
Lysol wipes
tweezers of various lengths and shapes
instant chemical cold pack
"..." hot pack
dry electrolyte packets
pill benadryl
more alcohol or iodine prep pads
finger size splints
large size splints
clean rags
safety pins
neosporin lip ointment
aspirin, Advil, Motrin
hydrocortozone cream
butterfly closures
wound closure bandages
gauze eye patch
large trauma pad
roll gauze
sun screen
crack open bright stick
emergency blanket
dedicated fresh water jug
knuckle band aids
a Sawyer Extractor (venom removal)
suture kit
eye protection
draw string plastic bags
mouth and nose mask
plastic sheeting to set up quarantine area

Naturally there is a lot more that can be added (back boards?)

On my end of the family, I have been stocking up on aspirin and alternatives when I do food stores. Also, on occasion I've seen a Dr. and been given an Rx for antibiotics that I had no intention of taking because I (rightly) thought them unnecessary. I did fill the Rx and stored the full series. Likewise, we never use all the pain killers in an Rx so that we can save some for when we might need them when no Dr. is available. DD17's orthopedic surgeon thought that she was too nervous and flighty and wrote out an Rx for Valium without asking if we wanted it - yup it got filled and stored. I have some Rx strength salve that numbs the skin. I got this when I was in an office appointment and the rural Doctor (read only doctor in the area) was called out of the office on an emergency. On his way out, he told me the stuff was expensive, scooped some out of his big jug and put it into a little tube and sent me on my way. Medicines can get weird if stored too long or out of temperature range so they have to be managed. You have to be willing to throw them out when they get old. Note that these activities are not recommended by the experts.

I think as important as industrialized medicine is a knowledge of herbs and homeopathy. Years ago we didn't have medical insurance and I took classes in homeopathy from a local midwife. At that time I bought supplies and books and we still use the remedies. In fact DD17 has been left with nerve damage from the wound which we are home treating homeopathically.

I know very little about herbal medicine, but would love to learn. I find it hard to learn on the Internet as I'm such a hands on person, but it can be done. Edit I just noticed that Hen and Harvest has an article on growing medicinal plants. Please go there and read and I will do likewise.

I would also recommend that people learn what the indigenous remedies of the area were as well as food as medicine (limes used liberally over food help prevent food borne illness...)

Naturally, all this takes time to learn and master and there is always more to know. Books are important. I've learned some veterinary skills on the fly in a barn, at night with a lantern and a vet book and a ewe in trouble. I'm looking for first aid classes in my area as well as learning about herbal medicines.

Books on my next to order list are:
Wilderness Medicine, beyond first aid by William Forgey

Where there is no Doctor, by Jane Maxwell

Where there is no dentist
Where there is no veterinarian

OK, long post. Are you still there? What else can you think of for a first aid kit? Do you have a favorite first aid book? What's in your kit?


tansy said...

what first aid book do you have/recommend?

a lot of supplies can be purchased more cheaply at a farm supply store such as syringes & needles,self adhesive bandages, gauze, betadine, etc.

i am enjoying your 21 day series!

Christy said...

I have both of those books and they are good. You can download Where There is no doctor for free. I'll see if I can find the link. I really want to learn more about herbal medicine. I was going to take a class but had to cancel going at the last minute. I'm hoping to find one after we move.

Robj98168 said...

I took first aid in college and one item they suggested in setting up a first aid kit- femine napkins- They can be used to cover lacerations- and as far a catching blood - well that's what they are designed for

Brad K. said...

I am not sure about the shelf life, but aloe vera juice can be a real help.

Use as a wash for burns, like aloe vera gel. What I like is for poison ivy. Twice daily wash the affected area with soap (removes the poison oil re-emerfing through the skin), I pour 3-4 oz of aloe vera juice in a glass, drink most, and dab the rest on the affected area - works faster for me than calamine lotion, is a *lot* more effective at reducing discomfort.

Aloe vera juice can be helpful with ulcers at times, and for extended reflux-related heartburn.

Just be careful with aloe vera - it is a very aggressive healing component. Don't use on deep wounds - the skin heals over before the deeper healing completes, and you can have drainage and deep infection issues.

The other thing I use pretty regular. That is saline nasal mist. The bottle cannot be passed from person to person, an issue when sharing domicile with others. Twice in each side, once an hour, and blow - my family doctor claims this will clear up to a sinus infection and relieve a lot of sinus allergy symptoms. This is not a miracle cure, non-medicated and will not interfere with any other treatment or medication.

Saline nasal mist - a salt water spray - looses and dislodges clots of mucous and guck in the sinuses - relieving post nasal drip, scratchy throat, sniffles. Hint: If your kid picks his nose and claims blowing doesn't help - try this stuff.

On a more sustained note, Saline Nasal Mist is a commercial product. In a plastic applicator bottle. Inspired by the Yoga practice of the Neti Wash. Many drugstores now carry a neti pot - a goofy combination of gravy pourer and coffe cup. You mix 1 c. warm water, 1/8th tsp. non-iodized salt, 1/8th tsp. baking soda - and
pour it up your nose. Lean over the sink, head tilted to the side. With the head positioned with one ear down, tilted slightly up, the water runs in the upper nostril, down the throat, and out the open mouth. Slightly lower the head and the water runs out the lower nostril. Rotate the other ear down, repeat for both pathways.

Modern US medicine has recommended to various friends variations on this - omit the baking soda (a buffer to make the wash more comfortable on irritated sinuses), use a glass or cup to perform the 'wash' - to "cup the water in the shower in your hands, and snuffle the water up your nose". I think this last counts on the water being chlorinated city water, and overlooks the salt/baking soda balance for comfort.

I like Absorbine Mint Gel Liniment. Helps relieve muscle tension and soreness. There are likely more potent products, but this does some warming, provides a bit of skin lubrication for deep rubbing when you apply, a small dab does a little bit. Wash your hands before you rub your eyes, etc.

Bag Balm in the square green can is an old time remedy for skin irritations, for people and horses. And chapped cows.

Colleen said...

I work in the Health & Body Care {HBC}Department of a natural foods supermarket where I order the books.
I recommend Susun Weed's 'Healing Wise' as a great book for those who want to start learning more about herbs and healing. The 1st part of the book explains the different healing traditions-'wise woman', 'heroic' and 'scientific'. The 2nd part of the book is devoted to 6 common herbs. The final section is the herbal pharmacy; here she covers making herbal medicines.

Then I would add-
-a good field guide
-'Botany in a Day' by Thomas J. Elpel
-'the Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine' by Brigette Mars
-'Herbal Medicine' by David Hoffman (This is a tome and retails for about $60.)

Some other good herb books include-
-'The Male Herbal' by James Green
-'New Menopausal Years' by Susun Weed (She covers her "six steps of healing".)
-'How to be Your Own Herbal Pharmacist' by Linda Page
-Any book by Susun Weed
-Any book by James Duke

For info on general alternative healing-
-'Healthy Healing' by Linda Page
-'Prescription for Nutritional Healing' by Phyllis A. Balch
( I used these two books to a lot when I first started working in HBC a dozen years ago. They are still the most used reference books in our HBC department; both by customers and staff.)

Here is a link for the Hesperian Foundation. They offer 'Where There is no Doctor' and 'A Community Guide to Environmental Health' as downloads.


Michelle Ellis said...

I have some hemostats and scissors in my kit as well as a hot waterbottle, muscle ache balm, vic's type vapo rub, q tips and cotton balls, alcohol (drinking and otherwise), burn cream, barf bags, otoscope, candy bars, energy bars, water bottles.....

tansy said...

i forgot to mention another great item to have on hand is a couple suture kits. you can get them on ebay.

colleen - thanks for that link! i've just printed both out. :)

d. moll, l.ac. said...

I recommend a Chinese patent medicine called Yu Nan Bai Yao (Spelling may vary). It is fantastic to externally to stop bleeding and internally for any trauma (sprain, broken limb, car accident). Homeopathic Arnica for sprains and strains is good too. Essential oil of Lavender is good for burns. Those are my favs. Oh and Bach Flower Rescue Remedy for shock and stress.

Chile said...

In the past few weeks, I've taken CPR and First Aid class, and Pet First Aid. My sweetie took Wilderness First Aid. Next week, I'll be blogging about these classes and what we learned, followed up by an extensive First Aid kit list. (We spent all day today assembling several 1st aid kits based on what we've learned.)

I'd highly recommend everyone take a basic First Aid class as well as CPR. Red Cross teaches them in many areas for a reasonable fee.

Verde said...

Tansy: I just have the basic red cross first aid books, so far

Rob: I have heard that before, good point

BradK: good points. I've never gotten the hang of the nasel wash - probably should in this dry climate.

Coleen: Thank you for those book reccomendations. It really saves a lot of expensive trial and error to know what people who use these books use.

Michelle: good additions

d. moll.: yes, I forgot to mentions the bach flower rescue remidy

chile: WTG! I'll look forward to reading about your first aid kit.

Anonymous said...

I picked up a pretty good general first aid kit at Sam's club for $20. I'll need to add some things to it as well as beef it up. I found sutures and scalpels at BePreppared.com AKA Emergency essentials. I had a whole shopping cart filled online and when it totaled over $300 I had to consult DH and have not completed the order. I'm a nurse and have not worked for almost 8 years, but I really want to bone up on first aid skills.
Thanks for the download links to No doctor.

My friend who studies herbal medicine reccommends a book called "Opening Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs" By Gail Faith Edwards. Amazon has it for $13.95. She studied with Susun Weed. I ordered it.

Cindy in FL

Anonymous said...

As a country family doc, who has used "where this is no doctor" in Chicago as well as Chiapas, I know that most of medicine comes down to first aid and clean water.

If you aspire to being a useful healer in troubled times, I would recommend:

1. a birthing kit: you could save two lives by having a good light source, clean hands (better yet, gloves), a sharp razor blade, clean string and a large clean towel for the little one. Have a bulb syringe (for getting mucus out of the nose). Get Ina Mae Kelar's book on midwifery

2. learn "invalid cookery"; learn how to feed and water a sick person; learn to make barley water, egg gelatin and other concentrated nutrition for recovering folks; you can find reproductions of old-time "invalid cookery" recipes on the web

3. learn how to treat pain and comfort the dying; learn to properly store and administer those narcotics leftover from the dentist; learn guided imagery and even a little hypnosis, if you can; talk to a native american elder or other herbalist who knows the sedative and pain remedies in your area; get your head right about suffering and death

4. Learn about foodborne illnesses and how to treat them (some help in "where there is no doctor"

5. Have a poison kit that contains charcoal and something to induce vomiting

6. don't waste your money on a defibrillator unless you will also be administering all the drugs needed to keep the resuscitation going, AND you are willing to accept the responsibility for a potentially disabled revivee

thanks for your useful site

Chile said...

Brown PAC - thank you for comment #6. My sweetie and I actually talked about exactly that after our recent first aid classes. Got some additional good ideas from your list.