Your Friendly Health Advisor

With the pandemic COVID-19 / Corona virus a part of everyone lives now, this prioritized guide covers the medical supplies you should keep in your home for situations ranging from daily-life mishaps to lockdown “we’re on our own” emergencies.

Having the right stockpiles (and knowledge) can save you serious money by avoiding unnecessary trips to professional care. We see people every day who spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a problem our grandparents would’ve correctly handled in 10 minutes at home with $5 in supplies. You’ll also worry less about the “what ifs” and have more confidence when medical problems inevitably pop up.

You should start with the smaller individual first aid kit checklist before adding these “sits on a shelf” home supplies.

The small kit is for the portable gear many people keep in their emergency go-bags. Even though beginner preppers should focus on the home before focusing on evacuation scenarios, the small kit is a great place to start for medical supplies because:

  • it should always be kept in your home anyway (waiting to evacuate) and thus is nearby when you need it around the house,
  • it focuses on the most critical and common problems,
  • it’s already packed in a convenient “grab it and take it to the patient” pouch,
  • many supplies are bought in bulk, so you can take out what you need for the small kit (eg. 12 Band-Aids) and leave the rest for your home supplies.

Your home supplies have a huge advantage over the portable kits because you aren’t nearly as constrained by the space and weight of what can be carried on foot.

That flexibility comes with a risk, however, because it’s easy to get disorganized or go overboard. You still want to buy the right things in the right order and avoid wasting money on products you shouldn’t get instead of turning your basement into a hoarder’s version of the local CVS Pharmacy.

Although you’re most likely going to use these supplies for daily-life problems with easy access to 911 or follow-on care, we do plan for situations where you’re on your own. Imagine a bad natural disaster, for example, where your kid’s broken leg or wife’s 35th-week pregnancy is not going to receive help for days.

This list is organized in modules. Products are prioritized within their grouping.

You can get the first few things in each bucket and cover the “80-20″, while the ends of the lists are for the most serious “I’m planning for a long-term collapse” kind of prep. As you get more advanced, you can also add more of the higher-priority items, such as going from two cold packs to three.

Notes about this guide:

  • We assume you’ve already built your small kit and that it’s kept in your home (waiting to evacuate if needed).
  • We assume you have other important preparedness items that are directly helpful in medicine, such as clean water, fire, and wool blankets.
  • Normal hygiene and preventative stuff isn’t always listed for the same reason as basic gear, but we call out some specific examples like menstrual and birth control products.
  • Critical items, such as chest seals and tourniquets, aren’t prioritized very highly in the home list because you’ve already got 1-2 nearby in the small kit.
  • We don’t dive deep on products already explained in the small kit.

Double dipping, where you use one product in daily life and assume it’s part of your preps, is normally against the sane prepper rules because a good prep is always ready and you don’t want to wonder where your tourniquet is in a crisis.

But it’s fine to be logical and cut a few corners with these medical supplies. You definitely want a headlamp and water filter for medical needs, for example, yet it’s fine to rely on the headlamp and water filter already in your go-bag for general needs. You don’t have to carry a second headlamp for medical within the same go-bag.

We organize home medical supplies in these categories:

  • General & misc
  • Diagnostics
  • Medications
  • Bone & joint
  • Cuts & soft tissue
  • Burns & blisters
  • Dental
  • Feminine & pregnancy

Examples of other preparedness items that help with medical:

  1. Clean water, either stored, filtered, or purified
  2. Hands-free light source, like a headlamp or lantern
  3. Soap
  4. Large body wet wipes
  5. Hand sanitizer
  6. Field knife or multi-tool
  7. Respirator
  8. Eye and face protection
  9. Rechargeable and disposable batteries
  10. Ability to make fire, either with a lighter, match, or ferro rod
  11. Ability to cook, or at least boil water, perhaps with a portable stove
  12. Wool blankets
  13. Space heater
  14. Flashlight that can tightly focus a beam
  15. Sunscreen
  16. Bug spray
  17. Plastic cling wrap
  18. Bleach
  19. Off-grid fridge/freezer

General & misc:

  1. Face mask
  2. PPE
  3. Z-fold gauze, 4.5″ x 4 yards (4x)
  4. Medical tape, silk (3x standard rolls)
  5. Rolled gauze (8x standard rolls)
  6. 4″ x 4″ gauze pads (30x)
  7. Cotton balls (100x)
  8. Cotton swabs (100x)
  9. Trauma shears
  10. Medical gloves (1 box)
  11. White petroleum jelly / Vaseline, 7.5 oz (2x)
  12. Isopropyl alcohol 70%, 16 oz (4x)
  13. Alcohol prep pads (1 box)
  14. General medical reference guide
  15. Medical tape, plastic (3x standard rolls)
  16. Safety pins (10x assorted sizes)
  17. Mylar emergency blankets (4x)
  18. Bag valve mask / “BVM”
  19. Nasopharyngeal airway / “NPA”, 28 fr with lube

Diagnostics:

  1. Thermometer, ideally a digital forehead model plus an analog backup
  2. Writing materials: pen, permanent marker, waterproof paper
  3. Time keeping device
  4. Stethoscope
  5. Otoscope
  6. Blood pressure monitor
  7. Pen light
  8. Blood glucose monitor and strips
  9. Pulse oximeter

Medications:

* denotes meds that commonly need a prescription in the US

  1. Any personal prescriptions or condition-specific needs
  2. Tylenol / Acetaminophen
  3. Advil / Ibuprofen
  4. Benadryl / Diphenhydramine
  5. Pepto-Bismol pills
  6. Hydrocortisone cream
  7. Calamine lotion
  8. Aspercreme / Trolamine salicylate
  9. Lidocaine cream
  10. Drug reference guide
  11. Broad-spectrum antibiotics / Doxycycline / Bactrim *
  12. Honey
  13. Aloe gel
  14. Dramamine Non-Drowsy / Meclizine
  15. Sudafed / Pseudoephedrine
  16. Mucinex / Guaifenesin
  17. Pedialyte / Electrolyte powders
  18. No-Doz / Caffeine
  19. Afrin / Oxymetazoline
  20. Saline eye wash (1 quart)
  21. Tums / Calcium carbonate
  22. Pepcid / Famotidine
  23. Gas-X / Simethicone
  24. Metamucil / Fiber
  25. Imodium / Loperamide
  26. Dulcolax / Bisacodyl
  27. Bayer Chewable / Aspirin
  28. Rhinocort / Budesonide
  29. Backup antibiotics / Keflex / Azithromycin *
  30. Aleve / Naproxen sodium
  31. Long-acting antihistamines / Zyrtec / Allegra / Claritin
  32. Zinc
  33. Vitamin C / Ascorbic acid
  34. Vitamin D
  35. Multivitamins
  36. Vicks VapoRub
  37. Lactaid / Lactase
  38. Rx pain meds *
  39. Sleep gummies

Bone & joint:

  1. Coban roll (10x standard rolls)
  2. Cravat / triangular bandage, large 45″ x 45″ x 63″ (6x)
  3. ACE wrap / elastic bandage (4x)
  4. Undercast padding, standard 3″ x 4 yards (12x)
  5. SAM Splint / aluminium splint, 36″ (2x)
  6. Reusable cold pack
  7. Instant cold pack, 6″ x 9″ (12x)
  8. Knee brace
  9. Elbow elastic brace
  10. Ankle elastic brace
  11. Wrist elastic brace
  12. Lumbar back brace
  13. Adjustable crutches (1 pair for each general height range in your home)
  14. Walker
  15. Vacuum splint kit with splints for lower and upper body
  16. Wheelchair
  17. Safety rails for toilets, showers, etc.

Cuts & soft tissue:

  1. Band-Aid 
  2. 60cc syringe with 18ga tip
  3. Tweezers
  4. Butterfly wound closures, 0.5″ x 2.75″ (100x)
  5. Steri-Strips, 1/2″ x 4″ (32x)
  6. Tincture of benzoin, single-use vials (8x)
  7. Scalpel blade and handle, either disposable or reusable (6x blades)
  8. Abdominal (“ab”) pads, 5″x9″ (10x)
  9. Dermabond / tissue glue, 0.5 oz (2x)
  10. Kelly forceps
  11. Tissue forceps
  12. Magnifying glass
  13. Toothbrush, separate from the dental kit brush
  14. Suture thread and needle, needle driver, and fine scissors
  15. Medical stapler and staple remover (2x)
  16. Tourniquet (2x)
  17. Pressure bandage (4x)
  18. Celox-A hemostatic agent with applicator
  19. Chest seals (2 pairs)

Burns & blisters:

  1. Burn Jel
  2. Moleskin
  3. Straight needle and thread
  4. Leukotape

Dental kit:

  1. Disinfectant mouthwash
  2. Dental wax
  3. Orajel
  4. Dental mirror
  5. Where There Is No Dentist reference guide
  6. Clove oil
  7. Dental explorer / sickle probe / No. 23 explorer / shepherd’s hook
  8. Michigan O probe
  9. Naber’s probe
  10. Paper clips
  11. Dental cement
  12. Extraction forceps

Equipment:

  1. Massage gun

Feminine hygiene, menstruation, and pregnancy:

  1. Menstrual pads and/or tampons
  2. Monistat
  3. Birth control: condoms, pills, patches, and/or diaphragms
  4. Pregnancy test (4x)
  5. Plan B / emergency contraception (2x)
  6. Midol
  7. What To Expect When You’re Expecting or similar book for parents
  8. Midwife reference guide
  9. Prenatal vitamins
  10. Suction bulb

Common items to avoid:

  • Decompression needles / “chest darts”: You don’t have the training or equipment to properly use these needles commonly found in military settings.
  • Sleeping pills: Most OTC sleeping meds are just antihistamines — literally the exact same pill as something like Benadryl, just with different packaging and pricing. Anything beyond that needs a prescription.
  • Smelling salts: Falling out of favor among pros because it delays doing a good assessment, and if a patient’s brain shut down, there’s probably a reason you don’t want to override.
  • Neosporin / triple antibiotic ointments / Neomycin / Bacitracin: Studies show these topical creams don’t actually add much value beyond using plain petroleum jelly.
  • Strong anti-constipation meds: The risk of dehydration and straining isn’t worth the value in most survival situations.
  • Cough lozenges: No clear evidence that they have any positive effect, and a recent study found that heavy use of cough drops (especially those with menthol) actually make things worse.
  • Plaster and cast-making: If you’re in a situation where you’d make your own cast, you’re also in a situation without X-rays, and there isn’t much value in making a cast for a busted bone you can’t see / fix.
  • Surgical tools, intubation kit, surgical airways (crich), etc.: We may do an article specifically on these advanced tools (let us know in the comments if you want it), but this gear is far too advanced and unlikely to ever be used by most people.