Monday, September 17, 2018

Prepping for Asthma

As any prepper knows, preparedness is key.

And as anyone with chronic health conditions knows, emergency preparedness for those conditions can be nearly impossible at times.

I have lived with chronic, severe allergies for the last 20 years plus, but they have only notably impacted my life over the last 10. The most significant day to day impact of this has been asthma, specifically allergy-induced asthma that has made interacting with the general public difficult... such as when I have an allergic reaction to most kinds of soap. In addition to soap, I am badly allergic to mold, such as orange mold, various plants, and dust mites.

(I am aware that there will are those of you who claim that it is impossible to be allergic to soap. Feel free to convince my allergist, and my body, of that. When the in double-blind testing I have the same reaction, I promise you that it is not “attention seeking”).

Non-Medicinal Preps
In an emergency, I don't expect frequent access to allergy medication so I can restock what I typically keep on hand. This means that for whatever emergency I am planning against, I have to keep enough on hand to last me for quite some time. To that end, I specifically look for things that will last for a long time.
  • Instead of just getting medication, I try to control the environment. Medication tends to expire much more quickly then filters for your furnace or a facemask.
  • When I do get medication, I try to keep a stock of individually foil packed pills, so that if there is an emergency, I don’t have to open an entire container of them and risk contamination or expiration.
  • When I do stock up on medication, it's easier to do it in stages. The rule that I have is one – two – five. I try to get a one month supply, and then a two month supply, and then a five month supply, and then a year's supply, and so on. If I cannot afford a month's supply at a time of whatever it may be, I start with a day or week.

Over the Counter Preps
As to the specifics of what preps I keep on hand:
  • I keep a year's supply in bottles of three different over-the-counter allergy medications. I buy mine from Costco, but it does not especially matter where you purchase yours from as long as they work and have a basic minimum level quality packaging. I use, sometimes more than one at once, generic/store brand versions of Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec
  • I also keep a two-week supply of each of these in foil-wrapped packets. I actually buy name brand for these, because in my experience the packaging tends to be more waterproof. The Claritin and Zyrtec are even available as a dissolving tablet, which means you don't need water to take them. 
  • I keep a two week supply of Mucinex on hand. I'm still working up to a full year's supply, but the supply that I do have is all foil wrapped.
  • I keep chlorpheniramine (an alternative to benadryl) on hand. I buy this in bulk, since it is cheap, and I know people who are allergic to Benadryl.
  • As far as controlling the environment, I use a good spray sanitizer when I clean, and then I use a power fan style HEPA filter.
  • To supplement that, I use a box fan with a 20” x 20”  filter on it.
  • I even use a face-mask respirator on occasion. It has excellent filtration, and on days like today (where the air smells like barbecue) it ends up being a practical method to be able to breathe outside. I tried to keep between four and six filter replacements for it on hand, because I occasionally use the respirator for work reasons.

Prescription Preps
Everything I have mentioned so far is not a controlled substance, requires no prescription, and can be purchased over-the-counter at any drugstore with no problem. Everything else on my list is still legal, but may be more difficult to obtain in case of power outages or loss of infrastructure.
  • Sudafed and other decongestant medications require identification (such as a driver's license) to purchase in the USA. Pharmacies scan your ID, and to enssure that you’re not making methamphetamine with it they monitor and restrict how much you're allowed to purchase in a given month. I try to keep a one-month supply on hand, which is thankfully not very much. I do not use it often, but when I need it, I have to have some on hand.
  • I try to keep an inhaler on hand in my backpack, in my desk, and on my person. When I am in public a lot I end up going through an inhaler every 3 to 4 months, averaged over the several that I keep on hand. I also try to keep a foil-wrapped inhaler in my bug out bag, my roadside emergency kit, my primary toolbox, and one to three in the long term food storage. I know that sounds like a lot, but inhalers are inexpensive, (less than $10 each at Walmart without insurance), will be very difficult to get a hold of in a real emergency, and are something I will quite literally die without. I feel that overkill is a far smarter way to go then underkill.
  • Finally there is the EpiPen. I've never had to use one, and I hope I never do, but if I have to it will be there. I keep one in my backpack and my first aid kit. I would like to keep one in several other places, but they are quite expensive. I hope to remedy this with an EpiPencil.

It's possible to prep for asthma. I did it, so you can do it too. I know it sounds like a lot, and in some ways it is, but it's entirely doable.

Good luck, and don’t forget to practice.

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