5. Health

Having all the goods and services you need to keep your family happy are only good so long as everyone maintains their health. As mentioned in the security section, awareness and preparedness goes a long way in keeping everyone healthy and happy. It doesn’t take much to bring down an entire family with a cold or flu. Establishing a homestead far out into the country may preclude a quick visit to the doctors which may have prevented a simple injury from becoming a very bad injury. The state of our current health care system also leaves a lot to be desired so maintaining your health becomes a top priority.

As with the other sections there is some overlap with this one. Drinking bad water can make you wish for a quick death and sometimes you will be accommodated. Trying to survive in an arctic blast can lead to hypothermia, frostbite and death if you are caught unprepared. Eating food that was not stored properly will at the very least make you very sick to the extreme result of death. Do I have your attention? You will find that most of the procedures we will discuss are learned in advance of an emergency and are preventative measures. Training and skills will keep you out of trouble and far away from that extreme result.

I look upon my health as a vital and necessary component of achieving the quality of life that I wish to live. Most of us hate being sick and laid up for any length of time. If you are the main bread winner, a lengthy time off due to sickness can be devastating to your family. If you have done a good job of distributing all the chores to every member of the family, someone’s inability to keep up their end of the chores will have less of an impact on everyone. Just the thought of missing out on a family gathering because your coughing up a lung should keep us from engaging in questionable behavior. Eating fewer cookies, getting plenty of fresh air and exercise will go a long way to keeping us from becoming a burden on our families.

Medical

Health is comprised of several subsections. The first item we will cover is the obvious need to know something about how our bodies work. Without a simple understanding of what makes us sick and what can make us healthier, we will be at the mercy of whatever is thrown at us. Most of us cannot become qualified nurses or doctors overnight but most of us can learn about a few things that we should avoid and how to treat simple injuries. A library of medical books can be used to learn how to recognize ailments and symptoms in order to get needed care before it becomes to late. There are lots of good reference books such as The Oxford Medical Handbooks Collection (way too much information) to books on holistic cures. “Where There is No Doctor” or a little book on midwifery can come in handy when there is no professional medical help readily available. And yet once again, knowing where you are at, what the situation is around you, and where dangers may lie will go a long way to keeping you healthy and out of trouble. I’m reminded of the arrogant cowboy who sauntered into the blacksmiths workshop and picked up a horseshoe just out of the forge. He immediately dropped it and the blacksmith smirked and asked, “Hot wasn’t it?” to which the cowboy responded, “Nope, it doesn’t take me long to look at a horseshoe.” So if your going to wander into a smithy’s assume everything is very hot and don’t touch anything.

The first thing every member of the group should do is learn basic first aid. In the city the very first thing to do is call 911 if you believe someone has suffered a serious injury so learning and getting certified in CPR isn’t quite necessary. The first responders will get there fast and are better able to handle any emergency if you haven’t been able to get trained. However, knowing some first aid can help stabilize an injured person until help arrives or you might find yourself off the beaten path, with no cell phone reception and in need of medical assistance. There are some good courses such as the American Red Cross or specialty wilderness first aid courses that will get you trained in as many levels as you are willing to learn. Unfortunately, some folks will hesitate to assist an injured person because they don’t feel they are adequately trained or are afraid of being sued for helping. Most jurisdictions have a “Good Samaritan” law which offers some protection to persons offering reasonable assistance. The key words are “reasonable assistance” so getting some training in how to handle injuries will be helpful when you find yourself in a position to render first aid.

Another key aspect of staying healthy is learning the many aids and remedies that come from our indigenous people. Discovered and utilized for many centuries by the locals, this information can be very helpful. It is quite amazing what a little honey and cinnamon can do for you or how many plants that are considered weeds are really wonderful medicinal aids. There are many herbal recipes that suggest they can cure everything from Alzheimer’s to zits, but it is always imperative to learn what works for you. There are so many allergies these days, you must determine your reaction to certain herbs prior to ingesting great quantities of the herb. I believe there is enough evidence of the success of natural methods in curing or alleviating certain illnesses to warrant a little research into these remedies. Even some traditional medical authorities are beginning to understand and value the effectiveness of simple herbs. There are lots of books and tons of on-line information where you can gain the necessary skills to utilize these all natural methods but do your research.

There is also a growing acceptance of alternative methods such as holistic medicine which treats our overall wellness as one unified whole, caring for our bodies, mind, spirit and emotions. This philosophy falls naturally into an understanding of how we interact with the nature that surrounds us. Again, a thorough investigation as to whether these methods are for you or not is warranted before you sell your home and move into a wellness community. There are some very interesting methods that deserve a review such as acupuncture, naturopathy, Qigong and many, many others. Almost all of these focus on gaining balance and harmony in our lives. Many of these have helped many folks gain peace and wellness in their lives so if you are at a crossroads in your healing journey take a look see.

Sanitation

One of the simplest methods to staying healthy is to observe basic sanitation and hygiene. An unkempt homestead can become a breeding ground for disease. The days of dumping our garbage over the side of a hill are long gone as is burning our refuse. Learning to live with others means also learning to not become a health hazard to our neighbors. Teaching our children how to wash up for dinner after a hard day of exploring will keep them from ingesting bad stuff. Not going to the church picnic if you have a nasty cold will keep your fellow man from getting your sickness. You wouldn’t like it if someone was coughing over the potato salad would you? Speaking of which, if the potato salad has been sitting out in the sun for hours, don’t eat any of it. Keeping the kitchen clean and not cutting vegetables where you just cut raw meat, or making sure food is kept at the proper temperature is vital to maintaining our everyday health. Learning to properly use a compost toilet or how to safely install a gray water system will keep bad bugs out while maximizing our water use. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is not a bad idiom to adhere to. It points out how important it is that we stay as clean as possible. This doesn’t mean you can never get filthy dirty while working in the field or just enjoying a good mud wrestling match. Just remember to clean up before you eat or track mud into the house or face the consequences.

Disaster Preparedness

Finally, we will discuss how to maintain your health in the event of a disaster. From pandemics, EMP’s, earthquakes or biohazards, you must know how to be prepared to survive. The list of possible disasters is long and scary but a general plan to deal with any disaster that might hit will be of great help and comfort. Once the toilet won’t flush or water won’t come out of the tap after a disaster, you must know how to deal with your waste and secure safe drinking water. If there is an outbreak of a new strain of Flu, do you know how to keep your family safe? Are you aware of the steps needed to keep your family safe in the event of a nuclear-biological-chemical emergency. Can you immediately set up a quarantine area or preform triage if necessary? Sometimes the best and only option you might have is to evacuate on a moments notice. Keeping a bug out bag with a few supplies and important documents may be all you can grab and go with so do some planning before disaster strikes and be prepared.

Once again we will discuss things that none of us wants to experience and with God’s grace we pray we will never have to experience. The simple fact is, those who prepare even a little bit will be able to survive the initial shock of a disaster and be able to continue leading as healthy a life as is possible until normalcy is restored.