The Provident Prepper: Top 5 Antibiotics to Stock for Emergency Use

Shawn Rowland, M.D., at The Provident Prepper talks about the Top 5 Antibiotics to Stock for Emergency Use

As a family medicine physician, I treat infections of all kinds regularly. I depend on modern medicine to effectively treat a host of infectious causes, from bacterial, fungal, to viral. Even as a physician, I sometimes take for granted the incredible fact that just 100 years ago, the top five causes of death in America were all associated with infections.

Bacterial diseases were the most common cause of death from infection. Through the advent of medications like antibiotics and vaccines, we rarely worry that a cut finger will result in tetanus or a septic infection.

A urinary tract infection is effectively treated with a few days of antibiotics. Not long ago, such an infection would often end in severe kidney damage and even death. Indeed, in other less developed countries worldwide, the threat of bacterial infections is real, and things like diarrheal illnesses or cases of pneumonia are still top killers.

Below are some common questions I get from people concerned about being prepared for times when they might find themselves cut off from modern medical care.

What are the possible infections that may require antibiotics during a disaster?

The list of infections that may arise during a disaster is long. A few likely bacterial infections include:

  • Infected cuts
  • Animal or human bites
  • Various diarrheal illnesses
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Ear infections
  • Sinusitis

During a disaster, lack of adequate rest and poor nutrition will lead to a weakened immune system and an increase in bacterial infections.

Some disasters will present specific challenges. In a bio-terror scenario, there are specific diseases and medications that the CDC has studied. The top threats identified are anthrax, plague, and tularemia. A pneumonia infection caused by these agents is nearly 100% fatal if left untreated. If possible, any individual suspected of anthrax, plague, or tularemia infection or exposure should seek treatment in a hospital.  Ideally, patients should be treated with a combination of IV and oral medications.

In a disaster scenario where individuals cannot receive prompt care, the second-best option is to start oral therapies immediately—specifically, oral ciprofloxacin or oral doxycycline. For more detailed dosing recommendations, you can download this free e-book.

What are the best antibiotics to stockpile for an emergency or disaster scenario?

Top Five Antibiotics to Stockpile for Emergencies

When considering safety and efficacy while using limited options, the following are my top five choices:

  1. Amoxicillin-clavulanate
  2. Azithromycin
  3. Ciprofloxacin
  4. Doxycycline
  5. Metronidazole

These are the antibiotics included in the emergency antibiotic case, The Jase Case, sold by Jase Medical. The ideal antibiotics to have on hand would be a selection that covers a variety of bacteria and even amoebas/protozoa. Unfortunately, there is not a perfect list, and each medication has its pros and cons. It is typically better to use a narrow-spectrum antibiotic that is targeted to treat a specific bacteria.

Other times, in medicine, we combine different antibiotics to ensure that we cover a variety of bacteria. Unfortunately, we likely won’t have access to an entire pharmaceutical collection of antibiotics in a disaster.

Which scenarios could prevent me from getting a prescription from my family physician and getting it filled when I need it?

Some reasons you may not be able to get a prescription from your doctor in time include being confined to your home due to a global pandemic, medication not being available due to a supply chain disruption, or a natural disaster causing a significant strain on your local health system.

If you are suffering from a bacterial infection and need antibiotics, any delay can mean serious consequences for your health. The above reasons represent only a few of the many potential scenarios where you may not be able to get timely medical attention.

Often, I will have a patient who is leaving for a trip come and ask about getting antibiotics “just in case.” Whether on vacation in Disneyland or overseas in a developing country, having access to medication to help with a severe case of diarrhea or a urinary tract infection can save your trip (and your health).

How do I know which antibiotics to use for an infection in an emergency?

Recent advancements in the availability and capability of telemedicine allow patients to consult with a health care provider and receive guidance about what kind of medication may or may not be appropriate for an infection.  Jase Medical includes such a service when patients buy their emergency antibiotic case.

When contacting a medical professional is not possible, it is important to be familiar with the medications you have on hand and the kinds of infections they can treat.

NOT ALL INFECTIONS ARE CAUSED BY BACTERIA. Therefore, not all infections should be treated with antibiotics. A trained professional can help you distinguish a viral or fungal infection from a bacterial infection. There are also medical books that can guide you.

A good medical book should explain which signs and symptoms to look for that may point to a bacterial cause of an infection and which medications to use. This free e-book is written to help people distinguish whether an infection is bacterial and which medications to use, and proper dosages.

What is the shelf-life of antibiotics?

This is a great question! The federal government has been stockpiling medications, including antibiotics, for many years and studies show that medications may be good for over 15 years.

The need to throw out unused expired medications caused them to look at the feasibility of keeping them beyond their regular expiration dates. Thus, the Shelf-Life Extension Program was born. What they learned through this program was very interesting. It turns out that many antibiotics, when kept in cool, dry, conditions retained 90% plus of their potency for more than 15 years!

Although the exact times depended on the specific antibiotic, all of them maintained sufficient strength for a minimum of 5 years. Some antibiotics degrade into toxic substances and can become lethal poisons. The antibiotics in the Emergency Antibiotic Case from Jase Medical were specifically selected due to their long shelf-life. None of them will degrade to toxic compounds.

You may have seen ads in your local newspaper or neighborhood pharmacy encouraging you to dispose of your expired medications through a drug “take-back” program. These are great community service programs to aid people in the safe disposal of expired or unneeded medications.

Many drugs like those containing opioids are hazardous and should not be kept around “just in case.” Antibiotics, however, can be given special consideration.

What are the ideal storage conditions for antibiotics?

All medications, including antibiotics, should be kept in a cool, dry environment. If possible, store medications in a water and airtight sealed container. Do not freeze! Heat causes the active ingredients to degrade more quickly, as does the humidity. For particularly humid environments, a water-absorbing pack can be used…(article continues)

Get your free Antibiotic Emergency Guide here.

The Provident Prepper: Long Term Food Storage

This article from The Provident Prepper talks about calories and nutrition in your long term form storage and what sort of effects deprivation can cause. Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset

Long term food storage is a vital tool to help you conquer challenges that come your way in everyday life, as well as for emergency preparedness. This stockpile of life-sustaining long term storage foods should be built once you have a 3 month supply of foods that you eat everyday stashed in your pantry.

How do I build the perfect long term food storage plan for my family?

  1. Develop a plan that includes the number of people, unique dietary preferences, and takes into consideration minimum caloric needs.
  2. Prepare a cool, dry location to store your food supply.
  3. Search for reputable suppliers where you can purchase foods specifically packaged for long term storage at reasonable prices.
  4. Begin to implement your plan and consistently stock up on long term food supplies until you reach your goal.

We are going to begin by investigating important basic principles, looking at what the experts are recommending, and then taking a peek at how real people are using a bit of creativity to develop a long term food storage program that works for them.

Basic Caloric Requirements

USDA average caloric recommendations are 2000-2500 calories per day which is between 15-26 servings of food each day. We have been programmed to think that calories are bad. Calories are critical for energy and to maintain health. Let’s use the example of a 150 pound man. We have calculated to include physical activity and dietary thermogenesis. Generally the caloric requirements for a man to maintain a 150 pound weight is:

  • Inactive Male Adult – 2,360 calories
  • Average Male Adult – 2,722 calories
  • Active Male Adult – 3,176 calories

Depending on the scenario, a disaster may result in a normally inactive man having to significantly increase activity level resulting in a higher caloric requirement. When planning your basic longer term food storage, be sure to include enough supplies to meet the caloric requirements of each member of your family.

Minnesota Semi-Starvation Experiment

During World War II thousands of people died daily of starvation. The University of Minnesota conducted a clinical study to determine the physiological and psychological effects of severe and prolonged dietary restriction. They wanted to simulate a severe famine in a controlled laboratory environment and be able to assist famine victims.

36 Civilian Public Service male volunteers were selected to enable a detailed study of the physical and psychological effects of prolonged, famine-like semi-starvation on healthy men and their ability to recover from the experience. During the 24 week semi-starvation period, the caloric intake was cut to 1,560 calories a day consisting of a diet including; potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, bread and macaroni. The diet was rich in carbohydrates and poor in proteins. Subjects were required to walk 22 miles per week.

The results of the study clearly demonstrate that a male adult that consumes only 1,560 calories a day will have significant physical and psychological difficulties. They consistently found the following symptoms in test subjects;

  • Increased depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis
  • Severe emotional distress
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Social withdrawal
  • Decline in concentration, comprehension and judgement capabilities
  • Reduction in body temperature, respiration and heart rate
  • Edema in extremities
  • No energy
  • Always cold

One interesting thing noted is that all food was reported to be delicious with no evidence of diet fatigue. Many of the subjects would add water to the food to make it more like a soup to help make them feel full.

Calorie Calculations

One of the take home messages from this study is to make sure you factor basic caloric requirements into your basic food storage plan. Not all grains are equal when it comes to calculating calories. Wheat at 1520 calories per pound has less calories than white rice at 1650 calories per pound. It doesn’t look like a big deal until you multiply it out and see the difference

  • 300 lbs wheat = 456,000 calories = 1,249 calories a day for 1 year
  • 300 lbs white rice = 495,000 calories = 2,007 calories a day for 1 year
  • 300 lbs black beans = 461,400 calories = 1,264 calories a day for 1 year

Boxes of #10 cans can easily fit under a twin bed. We have found that 12 cases of 6 cans will fit nicely. That 72 cans of dry goods will come close but will probably not have quite enough calories to feed one person for an entire year without supplementation.  However, if it is used to supplement a 3 month supply of everyday foods stored in a pantry, or garden fresh fruits and vegetables, it would be perfect and bring the total caloric intake in line with basic requirements.

Continue reading “The Provident Prepper: Long Term Food Storage”

Detroit News: How to Get Prepared

The Detroit News interviewed the couple who run The Provident Prepper website and asked them about preparedness in COVID-19 caught us off guard. Here’s what disaster preppers say we needed to do all along

For three months, Jonathan and Kylene Jones didn’t step foot inside a grocery store. They relied on their Utah home’s built-in storage room supply: flour, rice, beans, a freezer full of food.

That was last summer.

The couple, founders of the “The Provident Prepper” website and YouTube channel, wanted to do a 90-day trial of surviving solely on their food storage and garden. Bartering and trading was allowed — their kids hauled hay for a nearby farmer one day in return for a Subway sandwich — but they couldn’t go to the grocery store. Those were the rules.

So when the coronavirus erupted in March, emptying grocery stores and turning others into hoarders overnight, Kylene and Jonathan Jones relaxed.

“When this pandemic struck, we’d already been through it,” said Kylene Jones, 55. “There was this great sense of peace that taught us that we’re just fine, we can do this.”

The Joneses acknowledge that very few people have the patience or time to do an experiment like theirs.

But a variety of people who prioritize preparedness say that most people can and should have supplies and plans to get them through several days. It’s doable without entertaining conspiracy theories or spending a fortune on special tools and supplies.

Here’s how to start.

Think it through 

Yes, it might feel weird or unnerving to imagine worst-case scenarios. But thinking through possible disasters — especially now that we can envision one — is key to preparation and peace of mind, said Ontario’s fire administrative director Jordan Villwock.

“While it’s not fun to think about, it’s always better when an incident happens that you’re prepared,” Villwock said. “Hope is not a good contingency plan.”

Florida gets hurricanes. In the Midwest, tornadoes. California is blessed with earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides. Get to know your area’s specific vulnerabilities. Do you live on a fault line? Is your beachfront property susceptible to a tsunami? Look up your local jurisdiction’s hazard mitigation plan, which should detail threats unique to your area, Villwock recommends.

While you’re at it, look up evacuation routes for your neighborhood — include routes with the blue “evacuation” signs as well as little-known streets that might come in handy if the larger thoroughfares get blocked. Find routes that don’t use bridges or roads crossed by bridges. Know how to get out, in case of an emergency.

Plan for communication 

Sit down with your family, roommates or neighbors and discuss. Decide on a meeting place in your neighborhood and one farther away, if it’s not safe to stay close to home. Agree on an out-of-state contact who can serve as an intermediary to help relay information. Memorize and write down that person’s contact information.

“Some people hesitate to feed their children information that’s scary, but I think it can be done in a non-threatening way,” said Jonathan Jones, 60. “It truly empowers them to look at a situation and say, ‘OK, here’s what we’ve already done and we can think this through.’”

Also write down your medical insurance, doctors’ contact information and any other health conditions (including allergies).

Many jurisdictions now have the capability to send messages through Amber alerts _ remember your cellphone blaring the various curfew alerts? Individual cities and counties often have their own emergency alert systems. Sign up for them on your city’s website. You should also follow your local government, police and fire departments’ social media, which are often the first to sound the alarm about an emergency near you.

Get ready to go 

Practiced preppers often have a couple different stores of supplies. Call it whatever you want — a go-bag, bugout bag, 72-hour supplies, or basic preparedness kit — it should be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Think of the 2018 Camp Fire, a deadly wildfire that tore through the Northern California town of Paradise in minutes.

Ready.gov, the federal preparedness website, advises that you fill your bag with the basic supplies we’re now all accustomed to — hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves — and some we’re not — an AM/FM crank radio, a flashlight, cellphone charger, extra batteries, a whistle, a utility tool, a blanket, a personal hygiene kit, bottles of water and at least three days of non-perishable food.

Villwock recommends also keeping cash in small bills in your bag, along with paper maps of your city.

“Think what life would be like if you’re finding places and you don’t have Google Maps anymore,” he said. “How would you get around?”

Don’t forget a first aid kit, which should contain supplies to treat an immediate injury and help you last a few hours if you can’t get medical help quickly. Villwock recommends bandages, ointment, antiseptic towelettes, an ice pack, tweezers and tape.

Once you have the basics down, customize. If you have children, add enough supplies for them too. If you live in a cold climate, pack a sweater, hat or boots. Perhaps you need medication for anxiety.

“Address stuff based on what’s going to kill you or cause you the largest problems the quickest,” said Dan Baird, founder and head instructor of the California Survival School. “Take care of your first aid needs and basic health and safety needs first.”

Keep your bag in a readily accessible place, like your car, a coat closet or garage. “You don’t want it buried deep in the closet in the middle of the house,” Baird said. If you keep the bag in your car, maybe add glow sticks so people can see you if you’re stranded one night on the side of the road.

Some experienced survivalists include other tools, ranging from eating utensils to things like the “doomsday axe.” But Villwock cautioned against getting caught up in all the advanced supplies.

“Having all those tools and blankets … is going to make it more comfortable during the disaster,” Villwock said. “When you have reusable plates and can openers and duct tape and Q-tips, yeah that’s going to all come in handy, if necessary. But 72 hours, I could go without a Q-tip most likely, you know.”

Prepare the home 

By now, we’re probably all accustomed to having a couple extras boxes of pasta or cans of beans in our pantry. But what do we really need in a home supply?

Preppers recommend plenty of non-perishable food and at least one gallon of water per person, per day. You’ll also need a backup of your medications and basic home tools. Frozen food is good too, but it may spoil quickly during a power outage.

How long should supplies last? Three weeks, three months or a year, depending on which prepper you ask. You’ll have to decide what length of time makes sense to you.

Once you do, they advise that you buy a little extra of your regular grocery list every week until you’re stocked up. Don’t waste money on items you never use, Baird said. Rotate through the items, keeping your supply’s shelf life fresh.

“Have your spaghetti, have your macaroni and cheese, have your oatmeal,” Baird said. “Have whatever it is you already like to eat.”

The Joneses agreed. During their 90-day survival trial, they learned they had packed too much tuna for their liking, but not enough cat food. They fed the tuna to the cats and adjusted their shopping list going forward. Also, Kylene Jones realized, they needed more chocolate.

Where to keep it all? Don’t be afraid to do a spring cleaning to maximize your pantry or closet space. Then get creative. In addition to a storage room on their 1.5 acres, the Joneses use empty space under their bed.

“We recognize that a lot of people can’t have that, or it’s not practicable, but whatever space you have, you can make it usable,” Jonathan Jones said.

Don’t get overwhelmed 

If you’re stressed imagining the next disaster and the prospect of preparing for it seems too much, stop and take a breath. Think of prepping as the opposite of hoarding — get ready while you’re in a calm state of mind so you don’t have to panic later.

Preparing is also a form of community care, the Joneses said. Planning ahead means no last-minute runs to the store to stock up, taking away from other people in need.

“A lot of the reason people don’t prepare is because it seems overwhelming until you break it down,” Jonathan Jones said. “When you break it down into small, manageable pieces, then it’s doable, then you can make some real progress. And then what comes with that is a lot of peace of mind.”

So think ahead. Keep it simple. And don’t hoard toilet paper.