When You’re in a Pinch, Here’s How to Find Ostomy Supplies

Imagine this: You head to the cottage for the weekend and bring along a spare ostomy appliance “just in case”.  That spare is needed soon after because of a leak and you’re left with nothing extra.

In an ideal world, you should be able to get by without needing to change your appliance again before heading home – but this isn’t an ideal world and your dog decided it was a great idea to jump up on your lap, tearing your “just in case” spare.

Many would say that you’re SOL at this point, but in this article, I’ll give you some ideas to try before you head home.

Medical Supply Stores

This will be the easiest place to get supplies, assuming they are open.  If it’s the weekend, chances are they will be closed, but it’ll still be worth searching for suppliers in your area to see if anyone’s open.

If you’re using an internet search, it may help to put the term “medical supply stores open on the weekend” or something similar to narrow down your results.

You should even be able to search on Google Maps to find suppliers in your current location.  A bonus when using Google Maps is that you’ll also get the store hours listed as well.

Durham Medical hours Google Maps - Copy
Google Maps will list store hours, which can help narrow down who’s open when you call.
Medical suppliers Google Maps - Copy
Finding a local medical supply store can be easy with the help of Google :)

Local Classified Ads

This is a great wildcard to keep handy since you may find that someone is either selling or giving away free supplies through websites like Kijiji or Craigslist.

Local classifieds for ostomy supplies
Remember to narrow down your search and use different keywords.

Tip: Don’t just search for “ostomy supplies” or “ostomy bags” when using these local listings. Some people might list these items under a brand name like “Coloplast” or “ConvaTec”, especially if they are selling supplies that belong to a family member and not products they’ve used themselves.


Some people suggest trying a local hospital to see if they’re able to spare a few bags.  This will likely NOT work unless you are a current patient, but there’s no harm in calling ahead.

Social Media

What a time to be alive! Social media can not only play a huge role in finding support after surgery, but it could also save the day when you run out of supplies!

If you are using Twitter or Facebook you might have luck by simply asking followers in your area for help.

Asking for help on Twitter
There’s no shame in asking for help on social media.

You may or may not be a part of a local online group (to the area you’re visiting), but finding one and asking for help may produce some results.

Heck, I’ve even seen people ask for help through Reddit! You’ve got nothing to lose but the help of thousands of people online! Give it a shot.

Local Groups

You may be fortunate enough to be staying in a city or town that hosts local ostomy support groups.

If you can find a local group, try to contact the person(s) who organize the group to see if they might be able to help you source out emergency supplies.

Canada: You can find local chapters on the Ostomy Canada website: https://www.ostomycanada.ca/support/canadian-chapters/

USA: The UOAA has a great lookup tool here: http://www.ostomy.org/Find_a_Support_Group.

UK: You can use the lookup page on the Colostomy Association site: http://www.colostomyassociation.org.uk/index.php?p=172&pp=161

Australia: You can find a list of support groups here: http://www.australianstoma.com.au/index.php/about-us/support-groups

Prevention is Best

It goes without saying that if you can prevent this situation from even coming up then you’ll be far better off.

Even when going on a “weekend trip”, there’s no harm in bringing more supplies than you think you’ll need, so double or triple the spare wafers and bags in your emergency kit and go have fun!

Question: Have you ever been stranded without supplies? What did you do?

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9 months ago

Thank you for this article, and also for this comment section. My doctors are urging me to get a colectomy and permanent ileostomy but I have been resisting for a long time. My disease is not deadly, but it has reduced my quality of life a lot. I’m also in Canada, and ostomy supplies are very expensive here. In BC, I am under the provincial disability plan, so basic ostomy supplies would be covered, but it’s only one type. I have very sensitive skin and a weird body shape, so I would probably not be able to stick with whatever the province offers.

The idea of ever not having a replacement bag sounds like a nightmare. After all the readings I’ve been doing online, I’ve decided not to get a colectomy. It sounds like replacing one problem with another. Thank you again!

1 year ago

Hi Melinda, If it’s London UK you will be entitled to free supplies. Contact me local Health Centre who will make an appointment to speak with a doctor. You will then get a prescription sent to a pharmacy and then collect your supplies. Hope it works out 👍

Melinda Berrigan
Melinda Berrigan
1 year ago

Hello I am in need of a ostomy bag I am on my last one and ready to blow and no cheque for a week. New to london and no noone is there anyone that might have any they could spare please would replace them when i got my cheque. I literally have taped a bag around my stomach because its leaking .

1 year ago

By the way thanks to whoever makes this site available. I came across it by chance. When I am at a meeting or meet someone who has an ostomy I’ll mention this wonderful site. Keep up the good work.

1 year ago

Having had my ostomy for over 12 years and being a fairly “Macgiver” kind of guy, I would say if it is just the seal that I would try to salvage the bag. Clean up your self and the bag. I assume your sitting over the toilet to handle discharge. If you have someone to help you between you and them try and think of the stickiest thing you have available that is not toxic. Jam comes to mind immediately. And again this is assuming it’s a state of emergency. I or my helper would help with the cleaning off of the old seal. Use the jam fairly liberally. Put the bag in place and “Bobs your uncle” or whoever, you have for an uncle. This is what I would try. Sitting in an upright position you can always feel whether or not the hole on the bag is positioned right for your stoma. If the bag is ripped than I suppose I would have to look long and hard at all the freezer bags I might have. Putting a hole in one end for emptying and pinching it off when empty. Any ways this is what I would try after all is said and done.

1 year ago
Reply to  VeganOstomy

Fortunately I haven’t been caught to many times without a backup. But it’s bound to happen. The longer you have your ostomy the more chance you’ll be caught in an unexpected emergency at least once; and usually at the worst possible time. Not that there’s a good time for it to happen. I can’t imagine how people in underdeveloped countries cope, or perhaps even in developed countries. How many bags get thrown out because your scissors inadvertently poked a hole in the bag or whatever else spoils a bag seal. If there were a way to help our ostomy brothers and sisters around the world.

3 years ago

Great topic, I am on a weekend trip away and am onto my last appliance! Looking good to make it home without incident.
Do people ever make their own appliances?! Just curious, obviously not ideal but we are an inventive and adaptable lot

3 years ago

Thoughts from The East Coast…..
Yes in the perfect world,medical outlets,shoppers drug mart,and yes Kijji.
Ostomy supplies are the most expensive medical devices in Canada.Personally I really don’t understand why.Its not like people decide “”Yeah I think I like to have one of those.
“”I’ve talked to a few people from many countries and ostomy supplies are either offered very cheap or even free.Wow ..Back to the beginning, for me ,this was very,very,difficult,painful and to make it even worst a good part,of the time was not being able,to afford the cost of my Ostomy supplies.
Yes Kijji here offered for sale sometimes,but i have never seen anyone just give it away.Our local chapter were a group of wonderful people, I met 2 years ago but.I guess what i am trying to say is that THINGS aren’t always that easy.I wish they were
And if I could ,one of the things I would change is make it possible for people like you and me and all ostomates to have access and affortablilty all the any time…
Keep Rocking Vegan Ostomy
East Coast

Cindy Young
Cindy Young
5 years ago

I have been stuck without supplies….at the cottage. Fortunately for me the cottage was only an hour away and at 4am you can pretty much drive as fast as you want on the highway….lol Besides that, I always have 3 or 4 spare sets of things in my purse (I’ve had to change in the bathroom on an airplane, in restaurants, at friend’s houses) and I always bring enough supplies to be able to change my flange every day of my trip. Seems excessive, but I haven’t been short since :) Better to be over-prepared!

5 years ago
Reply to  Cindy Young

Sounds like you were in a “best case” scenario, Cindy! I would never leave the house without several extra bags and wafers, but after reading this question (and the responses from others) online I figured it’s best to at least go over some options ;)