Prevention is the best medicine - unless you need real medicine. Start by staying safe, and end by always being prepared.
Before jumping straight into building our kit it is important to stress that training is so much more important than any first aid kit. Feed the melon, take some classes and learn lifesaving skills before they are needed. Only then will a kit reach its full potential. Also, everyone in an expedition party should know where the first aid kit is located, and how to use it. If the party is big enough, multiple kits may be advisable.
The best first aid kit is a familiar kit and is easy to use. Each component needs to be understood, both the proper application and the risks.
All kits need periodic refreshes by replacing outdated components. Medicine, ointments, and bandages may become old and should be cycled when necessary.
The needs of each adventure may be different, so a custom kit should reflect those necessary requirements. For example, the office kit may have a few extra medicines like Ibuprofen or cough drops. The car kit may have anti-nausea medicine for road trips. A few well-placed kits in vehicles will always come in handy.
Lastly, the best kits are filled with quality components. The following list should cover most of the basics, add to it as called for by each Adventure!
- Triage Card
- Band-Aids: best all-around item for small cuts and scrapes. Colorful versions may be helpful for calming small children.
- Nitrile gloves: Some individuals are allergic to latex.
- Rubbing alcohol/Hydrogen peroxide: Caution, while killing germs, these also can kill exposed tissue, and lengthen healing time. Use as applicable.
- Antibiotic Ointment: Perfect for small cuts and scrapes
- Disinfectant Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer: Keep your paws clean
- Tweezers/Needle: For those pesky splinters. Buy high-quality tweezers.
- Duct Tape: Uses always seem to spring up.
- Cotton Swabs/Q-Tips: Perfect for cleaning out dirt from common scrapes.
- Vet Wrap: All around sprain stabilizer. Very inexpensive.
- Waterproof Adhesive Bandage Tape
- Anti-Itch Cream: For bug bites or wasp stings. Specialized sting relieve may be needed in geographies with specific insect and animal dangers.
- Mole Skin: Stop blisters before they start.
- Water: You'll die without it.
- Flashlight: Keep the batteries charged.
- Burn ointment/Spray: Useful for minor burns.
- Lavender Oil and Aloe Vera are common natural burn relievers – make sure you buy proper medical grade if going down this path
- Burn Sheet Bandage: Fast application.
- SAM Splint
- Large square bandages
- Butterfly Bandages
- Ace Style Bandage
- Triangle Bandages
- Eye Wash Solution
- Lubricating Eye Drops
- Eye Pads/Patch
- Poison Ivy/Oak cream
- Instant Cold Pack
- Foot Powder
- Paramedic Shears – Often called trauma shears
- Pain Killers: Aspirin/Tylenol(Acetaminophen)/Aleve (Naproxen)/ Advil (Ibuprofen): WARNING: medication of any kind can cause complications, only administer painkillers in prescribed doses to individuals who have been approved by a doctor to take that particular painkiller or medication. It is much better to bear a little more pain than cause some secondary reaction by giving the wrong painkiller. For example, aspirin should not be given to individuals with asthma.
- Thermometer – Good for diagnosing fevers
- Common Cold/Flu Medication
- Antihistamine: Such as Benadryl
- Cough suppressant
- Stomach soother: Pepto-Bismol or Mylanta
- Muscle Rub: Like Icy Hot or Tiger Balm
- Lip Balm
- Sun Tan Lotion
- Marker: Such as a Sharpie
Advanced Items: WARNING – Use only with proper advanced training!
- CPR Mask: Get the full mask and proper CPR Training
- Tourniquet: WARNING, make sure you have proper professional training before use! Only use above the knee and elbow – mark time applied down (Writing the time on the individual’s forehead works well).
- IV solution: If you have to ask, you should NOT be using this.
- Chest Seal: For sucking chest wounds.
- Blood Clotter: Celox is one possible brand. Know the risks and how to use before applying.
- Auto-Injector for epinephrine – If necessary and prescribed by a doctor
- Nasopharyngeal Set: DO NOT USE IF HEAD TRAUMA IS SUSPECTED! Ensure proper size!
- Lubricant: For nasopharyngeal.
- Glucose Gel
- Oropharyngeal: Ensure proper size!
- Suture kit: Seriously though, just go to the doctor.
- Scalpel and Blades: You really don’t want to ever use these. Better use is for cutting bandages.
- Smelling Salts/Ammonia Inhalants –If someone passed out due to pain, they may not thank you for waking them up
- Blood pressure cuff: Do not use as a tourniquet! They have the nasty tendency of losing pressure after being pumped up for a while.
What will you add first to your kit? Let us know in the comments below!