IV Fluids Synopsis: This post will teach you which IV fluids to stock including why normal saline solution (0.9% sodium chloride) or lactated ringers should be at the top of your list. This post will give you a better understanding of how much to stock given your focus medical field. This post will teach you about the fluid dynamics of IV catheters. Last, this post will discuss the problem preppers face in stocking IV fluids without a prescription.
One of the biggest headaches for medical preppers is where to purchase IV fluids for their med-kits, bug-out bags, and supply caches. In this article, The Medical Prepper will help you determine which IV fluids and supplies you should purchase.
Which IV Fluids and Supplies Should I Stock?
The first question we need to answer is, what should you stock? Well, that depends on your experience, training, and capability. If you are an EMT, nurse, doctor, medical technician, or in some other way have a medical background you will likely be more comfortable stocking a broader and deeper range of supplies than preppers without a medical background. What you stock also depends on your goals. If you lack the medical background, but one of your goals is to have a fully stocked trauma or medical kit available for anyone in your community to use (which includes friends, neighbors, etc. with medical training) during a crisis, then you will likely stock more.
What you stock should be based on your treatment goals and who you intend to treat. If you intend to care for your family only, your stockpile will be smaller than a prepper who is stocking for an entire community. For the sake of this article, I will focus on treating your family. In my family, we have eight children, then there’s my wife and myself. That’s ten people. We’re all in excellent health and don’t get sick much. Most of the time when someone is vomiting or having diarrhea, oral rehydration is the perfect fix while the virus or gut bacteria passes. Sometimes, however, as in the case of intractable migraines, moderate to severe dehydration, nausea with vomiting in pregnancy, and diabetes-caused blood sugar elevations, IV fluids are exactly what the doctor ordered.
Here is a list of what a typical family-of-four should have stocked in a fallout scenario, and what I recommend if you plan to stock for your community (a group of 50 or less; communities will likely be smaller knit groups in a fallout scenario).
|Family Med-Kit||Community Med Kit|
|IV Start Kit||20||50|
|IV Catheter (various sizes)||20 of each||50 of each|
|IV Fluids, 1 Liter 0.9% Normal Saline||30||70|
There are many types of IV fluids available. Lactated Ringer’s, 0.45% saline (or, half normal saline), 5% dextrose, 3% sodium chloride, vitamin mixtures – some of these IV fluids are complex to use and interact with intra-cellular, extra-cellular, interstitial (third space), and circulatory volumes in much broader ways than 0.9% normal saline. The 0.9% is the concentration of sodium chloride in water that makes up what we call “normal saline”. It is 0.9% because it’s tonicity, a big word for the measurement of osmotic pressure across a gradient, is the same as your blood. When giving a person 0.9% sodium chloride, “normal saline solution” (aka, NSS), the only variables you need to be concerned with are the person’s current fluid volume status (moderate to severe dehydration) and their ability to eliminate (or, get rid of) the fluid you’re adding to their system. You don’t have to worry about the effects on their cells or fluid compartments. You don’t have to factor in potential electrolyte disturbances. Unless you have a lot of training, NSS or lactated ringers solution should be the only fluids you stock.
Regarding catheter choice, the larger the diameter of the catheter, the faster fluids can be infused. The size of a catheter’s gauge (16, 18, 20, 22, etc.) is inversely related to its diameter. So, a 16g catheter has a much larger diameter than a 22g. The choice of the catheter also depends on the vein you’re trying to stick. Most adult veins can tolerate 16g and smaller (18g, 20g, 22g). However, the smaller your diameter, the slower your fluids will flow. Children, having smaller veins, usually tolerate 20g, 22g, and 24g. Here is some useful information on catheter flow rates. Note that the flow under the force of gravity is significantly lower than the flow under pressure (using a pressure bag):
|Catheter Size||Flow Rate Under Gravity||Flow Rate Under Pressure|
|16 gauge||154.7 mL/min||334.4 mL/min|
|18 gauge||98.1 mL/min||153.1 mL/min|
|20 gauge||64.4 mL/min||105.1 mL/min|
|22 gauge||35.7 mL/min||71.4 mL/min|
IV Fluids Without Prescription
As a prepper, you have already weighed the potential for catastrophe in the world and decided that the likelihood is significant. Your analysis is probably based both on international and domestic events which drive the world’s economy and direction.
As a medical prepper, this analysis has led you to the decision to stock medical supplies in the event catastrophe does occur. Your analysis has also spurred you to learn as much as you can so that you can do as much as you can when you’re called upon.
It’s easy enough to learn. Read the posts on this website. Read The Medical Prepper Guidebook. Take the Elements of Suturing course for wound repair.
It’s less easy to store up the supplies you have learned how to use. Simple items, like bandages and alcohol swabs, while the mainstay of any basic first-aid kit, cannot be the only supplies you rely on during a catastrophe. There will be greater medical needs than skinned knees and minor cuts.
Storing up really useful medical supplies – that is a challenge. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has rules in place to protect us regarding medications and supplies whose use could cause greater harm than good in the hands of an unlicensed, less knowledgeable individual. These rules are meant as a protective barrier between the public and the professionals.
Medical Preppers are somewhere in between, though. You study, you practice, you expand your skillset so that one day, when called upon, you will be able to help someone in medical need when help is not available.
The Second Amendment gives all U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. Arms are guns. Guns can kill, and guns can protect. This is simple logic. The Constitution gives us the right to own powerful tools for the protection, preservation, and defense of our people and land.
Extending that logic, and the spirit of the Amendment, it could be argued that Americans should have access to any powerful tool which could protect, preserve, and defend. This is a slippery slope, and it is not advocated here that scheduled drugs (including narcotic painkillers) should be available to the public to satisfy the spirit of the Second Amendment. But it bears considering that we should have access to both the fund of knowledge and physical armament of all branches of our society which could, in the event of catastrophe, be utilized to protect, preserve, and defend.
Until this concept is approved by the FDA – and with almost 100% certainty it never will be – most of the supplies we might really need access to in a catastrophic event will remain accessible by prescription only.
Patton Graham is a prepper and a Family and Emergency Nurse Practitioner.