Human history is punctuated with episodes of civilizational collapse. The trigger for the collapse of any civilization is societal collapse, which is normally also social collapse. The modern world is plagued by conflicts, some are regional conflicts while others are international in nature.
In some nations, social collapse is at full throttle with some of these nations, hemorrhaging its populace in forms of refugee outflows. During periods of social collapse, the rule of law would have totally collapsed and with it provision of services and amenities such as clean water and medical care. That means that diseases, which were once defeated, will be back.
Matters are further complicated by the total disruption in the supply of quality food, clean water and antibiotics. During such periods, diseases that were declared eradicated in western societies would re-emerge and claim large casualties. It is therefore important for any survivalist to be prepared to survive social collapse, and this involves knowing what to do when case societal collapse occurs, and how to fight common diseases that will follow.
In this SurvivalGearArmory.com article we are going to go through the very basic things you will need for surviving societal collapse. Those include drinking water, safe food and medicine.
Clean drinking water is essential for surviving
Water is a basic human need, and a normal person can live longer without food as compared to living without water. Water is therefore given the highest priority during periods of crises. However, when society collapses, one of the initial services that ends is supply of clean water. This leaves most people with no choice but to drink whatever water is available, and this predisposes them to water-borne diseases.
Contaminated water does spread protozoan infections, for example cryptosporidiosis and giardia; viral infections including Hepatitis A and poliomyelitis, and parasitic infections (including schistosomiasis); as well as bacterial infections including dysentery, typhoid, and cholera.
The source of contamination is fecal matter which finds it way into water mainly due to poor sanitation. Even so, water collected from pristine streams in high-altitude areas is still contaminated. Therefore, during societal collapse, a prepper needs to treat water before drinking it, regardless of its source.
Generally, people think that crystal clear water is pure and clean. However, that is not always the case. It could contain a lot of toxins and bacteria. For example dirty water can be passed through a standard coffee filter and emerge on the other end as crystal clear water even though it still contains disease-causing micro-organisms. Therefore it is essential also to know what water purification methods are effective. On the other hand, boiled water can still remain cloudy, but it is generally safe to drink. For this reason, it is recommended that any water you find needs be boiled regardless of its appearance and lack of odor.
There are many ways to purify water, and ensure that it will be quite safe to drink. You can for example boil the water or distill water using solar still or purify it making own filter using natural materials you can find from wilderness. To learn more read our article about how to purify water in a survival situation.
Ready made water filters are another and very effective way to purify drinking water in all situations. Read SurvivalGearArmory.com’s review of Sawyer Mini Water-Filtration System, which is an excellent example of ready made compact water filters. It’s easy to carry and effective for purifying water. Another good alternative are water purification tabs. Those kills bacteria etc. Because water is so crucial for surviving, it’s essential to have both, water filters and purification tabs packed in your bug out bag.
Stockpile survival food
Water-borne diseases are shortly followed by food-borne diseases, including food poisoning. This is because contaminated water is used to prepare the food as well as clean the utensils. Some food-borne diseases are highly lethal, especially if it causes explosive diarrhea and excessive vomiting. This form of diarrhea and vomiting causing the body to lose lots of fluids alongside nutrients that are in the alimentary canal. This results in double jeopardy as the affected person is dehydrated as well as starved simultaneously. This is the main cause of death in such cases.
Even so, during crises and periods of mass hunger, people eat whatever food is available regardless of its quality. This means that people would eat stale food, poorly cooked meat, raw meat, and plants normally considered as unfit for humans; as well as food prepared in low hygiene conditions, including food prepared by infected cooks. Such food provide a good medium for disease transmission.
A well prepared and informed survivalists uses always purified water for food preparation, as well as properly cook the food. Likewise, the utensils and raw food must be washed using clean water. Equally, the prepper would prepare the food by itself, and avoid eating food prepared by unknown people. Moreover, the prepper would avoid eating left-over foods as well as expired canned food.
If possible, it would be good to be able to hunt or fish, to ensure food supply and that the food is not safe to eat. Creating and maintaining permaculture food forest is ideal solution for consistent food supply. Furthermore, you need to know how to make a fire in wilderness as you can then cook the food and boil the water in addition to stay warm. Using solar oven is a good alternative for fire when cooking, read our review of SunFlair Portable-Solar Oven Deluxe.
Mosquitoes are dangerous source of diseases
Mosquitoes are insect vectors that transmit disease-causing parasites and viruses, such as the plasmodium parasite which causes malaria, and the yellow fever virus which causes yellow fever, a hemorrhagic fever. In America, mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of some forms of viral encephalitis, including Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis, and Western equine encephalitis.
During societal collapse, the town authorities stop combating mosquitoes, while swimming pools fall into disuse, and this allows mosquitoes to find lots of breeding space. This results in an explosion of mosquito population, and for the surrounding people, this means an increase in the number of mosquito-transmitted diseases. This causes an upsurge in the incidence rate of yellow fever, equine encephalitis, and yellow fever; as well as emergence of tropical diseases such as dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Zika fever.
This may seem overwhelming for any prepper, but there are simple prevention strategies that can be used to avoid being infected with mosquito-transmitted diseases. This includes wearing clothes that cover the entire body, draining stagnant water, sleeping under a properly treated mosquito net, and using window screens to keep out mosquitoes; as well as applying mosquito repellents creams on exposed skin surfaces. This is important as in the SHTF situation you don’t surely want to get any further worries becoming ill.
Even minor accidental injuries could be fatal
When any society collapses, people are forced to search for clean water and edible food. This in turn causes them to perform strenuous activities such as walking, running, tugging, and shoving against other people. All these activities increase the odds of a person suffering accidental injuries.
To worsen matters, the ability of the body to repair damaged tissue, as well as mounting an effective defense against infections is greatly compromised by nutrient deficiency which causes the immune system to be weakened. Therefore, minor injuries such as surface cuts not only fail to heal properly, but also creates a torn skin surface that can serve as a conduit for infection. Once infection becomes established, the weakened immune system allows it to progress into a debilitating disease that can ultimately turn fatal.
You can avoid some accidental injuries by wearing properly protective survival clothing.
Also, proper body hygiene must be maintained with wounds being cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Likewise, you must ensure that there is a viable tetanus vaccine available. Furthermore, cleaned wounds must be treated with antibiotic ointments and bandaged well. The bandage must also be changed as required. Therefore, it is essential to have a proper first aid kit always available. You should have one in a bug out bag, bigger in a car, and another full first aid set at home.
These are diseases who main mode of transmission is person-to-person contact. They include influenza, Hepatitis A, tuberculosis, and staphylococci skin infections. You can avoid these diseases by avoiding crowds or crowded places. If this is unavoidable, being vaccinated with the current viable vaccines also prevents some of the infections from developing into diseases.
Likewise, if a group of preppers are attempting to survive a disease outbreak, quarantine areas must be set aside for those who become infected. These areas must be sealed off using plastic sheets, and the preppers must wear N-95 masks and medical gloves whenever in the vicinity of these quarantined zones. Moreover, antibiotics must be stored, and then be used prudently to manage throat infections, pneumonia, and scarlet fever.
Bedbugs and lice cause people to scratch themselves, hence causing minor breaks in the skin that pathogens can use to enter into the bloodstream. For this reason, sharing of personal items is discouraged as it allows lice to jump from one prepper to another. Moreover, having lice treatment drugs offers additional safety.
During crises, garbage accumulates and this attracts mice and rats. Rats are vectors for lethal bacterial pathogens including Yersinia pestis which causes bubonic plague. Therefore there is need to prevents rats from entering the living space, and this can be doneby placing rat traps around residence. Furthermore it’s important to try to keep living space as clean as possible.
Malnutrition afflicts the populace of collapsing or collapsed societies. The main cause of malnutrition in the setting of a collapsed society is nutrient deficiency due to inadequate food intake. This means that the victims not only eat little food, but that this food is also nutrient poor.
The result is that the body cannot derive adequate amounts of essential nutrients from the eaten food, and has to resort to breaking down food stores sequestered around the body. The body starts by breaking down fat stored in adipose tissues which are normally found around the lower section of the abdomen and in the thighs.
This causes the affected person to grow lean, but the body is saved as the adipose fat is converted into usable glucose by the liver. However, the fat stores are very limited and the body quickly breaks down all the adipose tissues. At this stage, the victim will have lost considerable weight.
Even so, the body still needs energy, and if the fat stores are exhausted, the body is forced to start breaking down muscle tissue and converting some of it into its constituent protein compounds which are then converted into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis which takes place in the liver.
Loss of muscle tissue not only causes rapid weight loss, but it also gives the victim a skeletal appearance as the bones that were previously covered by muscles tissue become prominent.
From the above explanation, it is clear that the body prefers glucose as its energy source because all non-carbohydrate compounds must first be converted into glucose before being utilized by the body. Also, the body prioritizes the breakdown of fat over proteins as sources of glucose. For this reason, nutritionists recommend that people consume a healthy diet whose composition is 40 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fats, and 30 percent proteins. Proteins are mainly used as body-building materials that allow the body to repair itself and add non-fat bulk. Fats can be stored, but they also aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E) from the alimentary canal. Therefore, when lack of fat in the diet can cause vitamin deficiency.
Generally, men consume more proteins than carbohydrates while women consume more carbohydrates than proteins. However, when food supply runs out, people are forced to search for food, and this puts physical strain on the body as people walk around looking for edible food. This increase in physical exercises increases the demand for glucose in the body, hence precipitating fat breakdown if one does not consume adequate carbohydrates. Therefore the first indicator of malnourishment is carbohydrate deficiency.
Carbohydrate deficiency occurs when the carbohydrate stores are exhausted, and it manifests as mood swings and depression. If undernourishment continues, fat deficiency occurs. Fat deficiency manifests as weakness, fatigue, dry flaky skin, and reduced brain function. Symptoms of vitamin deficiency which include poor wound healing, brittle bones, fracturing of bones, and poor healing of fractures; rarely develop as the body stores enough vitamin reserves to last for more than three weeks.
As malnourishment continues, symptoms of protein deficiency start to manifest. These symptoms are same as those of fat deficiency, but with an added feature; poor immune response as the immune system weakens. At this stage, the victim is prone to developing serious disease complications from relatively innocuous infections, for example, infections that cause sore throat can prove fatal to such a malnourished person.
Malnourishment can be avoided by preserving food, especially dessicated food. However, if this runs out, preppers can make tea from rose hips and pine needles as these provides them with vitamins. If this is not possible, wheat grass can be used to make edible juice. Also, it is advisable to start stocking on preserved food, and / or start planting food (see introduction to permaculture food forest article).
The collapse of any society is always accompanied by a surge in new infections. However, as the health-care infrastructure is broken down and unable to cope with the ever increasing disease burden, the rate of spread of infectious diseases spirals out of control as endemic diseases take a life of their own, as previously eradicated diseases re-emerge and cause havoc.
In most instances, the process of societal collapse cannot reversed, but this does not mean that you should give up hope. Preppers must strive to survive during such harsh periods, and one way to do so is by avoiding infections and managing those infections that threaten to progress into diseases. For this purpose it is essential to have proper medication available.
It is essential to maintain good personal hygiene, properly prepare food, and purify drinking water. However, accidental injuries are still possible, and such injuries require prompt medical attention because in most cases, the immune system is weakened due to poor nutrition.
Injuries cause pain, and therefore you need to stock various over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. The most versatile analgesics include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. These painkillers are regarded as versatile because they can manage pain caused by injuries and almost all non-lethal infections.
Likewise, minor headaches can be managed by chewable painkillers. These painkillers are pediatric version of common analgesics which have simply been formulated to be chewed by adding sweeteners and other binding ingredients. Normally, chewable painkillers are more expensive than their corresponding adult equivalents.
This means that chewable ibuprofen costs more than normal ibuprofen. However, chewable painkillers have another unique advantage over normal painkillers apart from tasting better and being formulated to be chewed. Generally, chewable painkillers start acting on the body much quicker than their normal counterparts, with most studies showing that chewable analgesics start reducing the intensity of pain in half the time that normal painkillers take to begin action. They can therefore come in handy when a group of preppers need to be on the move but one of them is weakened by a sharp headache.
Benadryl is a useful drug for managing allergies. It is classified as an anti-histamine medication, and this allows it to manage almost all types of allergies, as allergies are mediated by histamine release. Therefore, reducing the actions of histamines which are present in the bloodstream would definitely alleviate the symptoms of allergies. Likewise, Benadryl can be used to manage insect stings and bites. When insects sting, they inject histamine into the bloodstream of the victim, and the symptoms that develop thereafter are due to the actions of this histamine on nerve cells, blood vessels, and other sensitized tissues.
Store Unused Prescription Medicines
Generally, medical practitioners and state agencies advice people to discard unused prescriptions. However, it is recommended that you will preserve unused prescriptions that have not yet expired, and depending on the medicine, even expired medicines could be used if there is no alternatives available. Preserving unused drugs, is a ok way to stockpile medicine.
Interestingly, long-term studies indicate that drugs retain their potency and efficacy beyond their best-by date if they are properly stored in cool, dry and dark places. In most cases expiry dates are just government’s unnecessary patronage and way to boost profits of medical industry. However, in some cases expiry dates should be followed. For example tetracycline antibiotics must be promptly discarded after their best-by dates passes.
Managing Fluid Replacement
During crises, people are forced to eat low-quality food and sometimes drink unpalatable water. This diet change can cause serious stomach upsets, as well as result in serious intestinal infections including dysentery and cholera.
Peppermint tea can be used to calm stomach upsets. However, diarrhea resulting from dysentery or cholera can be life-threatening as the body losses fluids at a much higher rate than it can replace hence leading to dehydration. This fluid loss also causes loss of life-essential electrolytes, and the resulting electrolyte imbalance can cause serious physiological derangements that can result in delirium, erratic heart beats, fainting, and even coma or death. Therefore, fluid loss must be managed.
Fluid loss is managed using electrolyte replacement solutions such as pedialyte or gatorade solutions. However, you may not have these solutions at hand during crises, and you need to prepare your own solutions. You can do so by pouring a tablespoon of sugar, half-teaspoon of table salt, half-teaspoon baking soda, and a half-teaspoon of salt substitute (usually potassium salt) into a quart of water, and then mixing them thoroughly till they all dissolve. A pack of sugar-free drink flavor can be added to this mixture so to get a fellow prepper, or a child, to drink lots of fluids as possible.
It is important to have basic medical supplies available. Therefore you should have face masks and sufficient numbers of medical gloves. Likewise, you should stock the following medical supplies:
- Bandages (all sizes, and types if possible)
- Epsom salts
- Mineral oil
- Medical tapes, cotton balls, alcohol wipes
- Essential oils
- Cold/cough remedies
- Topical creams including silver nitrate, triple antibiotic, Benadryl, and hydrocortisone.
Get More Information – Read Medical Books
You should have some good medical handbook at your bug out bag with medical supplies. For example the 2017 Physicians’ Desk Reference 71st Edition (Physicians’ Desk Reference (Pdr)) and pre-1980s Medical Aid Reference at Sea are good resources. These books provide step-by-step instructions on how to handle medical emergencies using either standard pharmacy supplies or improvised medications.
Cleaning chemicals makes it easy to maintain a clean environment. However, such cleaning supplies rapidly get exhausted during societal collapse as they are used more frequently and restocking them is difficult as most pharmacies and drug stores are vandalized and rendered inoperable. To worsen matters, neither bleach nor peroxides have a long shelf-life. For this reasons, you may need to improvise cleaning chemicals.
This can be done by rubbing vinegar, soap, and alcohol. In fact, white vinegar can be used alone to disinfect hard surfaces, while true apple-cider vinegar can be used as a medicinal compound. Therefore, it advisable to store enough quantities of these chemicals.
Antibiotics for preppers
Antibiotics are critical life-saving in any post-collapse society as the populace tries to regain their health by fending off infections. However, during societal collapse, antibiotics become very rare, and it is therefore advisable to start stocking antibiotics every time when it is possible. However, federal regulations may hamper this effort as they require people to only purchase antibiotics that have been prescribed by a registered physician.
Even so, you can skirt around federal regulations by purchasing fish antibiotics. Why fish antibiotics? Because both fish and human antibiotics are made by the same manufacturers who strive to produce human-grade medications. On the downside, fish antibiotics cost more than human antibiotics.
So, what you are going to do if you can notbuy prescription antibiotics and still feel uncomfortable about using fish antibiotics? The answer is simple, you can buy human antibiotics from overseas online pharmacies. Online pharmacies sell usually drugs at a cheap price, but also allow purchase almost any type of antibiotics without requiring to show their prescriptions. Unfortunately, trustworthy and reliable online pharmacies are quite rare.
Another option is to travel to the country where you can buy antibiotics in person over the counter. Unfortunately countries where this is possible are quite rare.
This all makes it even more important to stockpile unused antibiotics and other prescription drugs. However, there’s a one way around to get a registered physician to write for you prescription for full set of antibiotics and other drugs. You can always plan a trip to Mount Everest or North Pole etc. very far away destination, and ask your doctor to write you prescription based on the fact that if you become ill there, there is no medical care anywhere nearby available. You need those for the purpose of self-diagnosis and self-treatment.
The list below includes all the main antibiotics that you should have in your first aid kit.
These antibiotics can manage respiratory infections, allergies, and skin infections, as well as alimentary tract infections. Ciprofloxacin can manage urinary tract infections. Of course you need to have also good knowledge about for what each of these drugs are effective. Some of antibiotics are very specific, and there is no idea to take tabs that does not have any effect on the illness you have.
Conclusion – have a personalized long term survival plan
As we have learned, when society collapses, things could get very hard. It is very possible that the real SHTF happens in the USA, Australia or anywhere in Europe. No one country is totally safe. It could be big scale civil unrest, EMP from the Sun, large scale terror attack or war. There are plenty of examples around the world where the real SHTF has already happened in the recent years. So, this is not just a theory, but reality in many countries.
With stockpile of drugs, including prescription medicine, your changes of surviving increases dramatically as you will be able to fight common diseases that come back after society and it’s basic services collapses. Of course you should not forget water, food, clothing etc. basic needs. But having these all in order, your changes are much better than people who do not have these essential things and skills.
As a survivalists, we know that prepping is not just a one or two things. It’s not just packing a bug out bag. Prepping in a continuous process that includes plenty of aspects from medication, clean water and food to basic survival skills such as making a fire and finding way back even without compass. Therefore, it is essential that you will have a personalized long term survival plan, and that you follow it. Take action now, do something, for example buy some essential items. Every step is a step towards surviving.