The ability to perform even the most basic of first-aid tasks during an emergency or disaster situation is of the utmost importance. To properly apply potentially life saving first-aid techniques, you will not only need the know-how, you’ll need the gear to back it up.
Putting together a customized first-aid kit of your own is actually pretty easy. If you buy just a few things at a time, it wont cost you an arm and a leg… in fact, it might help you keep them in the long run. You could grab a prepackaged kit from the store to make things easier on yourself initially. But many of the ready-made kits need to be pared down, added to and re-defined to actually cover individual, family and situational needs… that why we think it’s better to compile one on your own.
WHAT TO CARRY: We’ve compiled a list of basic materials and supplies recommended for getting through the rough times, but don’t forget to add to the supplies as needed. If you or any family members rely on specific medications or have specific medical needs, it’s important to have backups stored and ready to go. The kit listed below might sound like a lot of stuff (and it is), but almost everything contained within is lightweight, compact in size, and can be found at your local grocery or department store.
Basic First Aid Supplies:
- 2 Pairs non-latex gloves (you can also improvise gloves from plastic bags)
- 5 -10 Bandages (small, medium, large of each)
- 6 Sterile gauze pads (4×4″ squares)
- 6 Sterile non-stick gauze pads (4×4″ squares)
- 10+ Butterfly strips
- Roll medical tape
- Elastic bandage
- 2 Sheets moleskin
- 6 Safety pins (3 small, 3 medium)
- Tube antibiotic ointment
- 4 Antiseptic towelettes
- Tube antiseptic cream (see also: Sugar Antiseptics)
- 4 oz. bottle of waterless hand sanitizer (see also: Rubbing Alcohol the Multi-Tool)
- Small tube hydrocortisone cream
- Medical shears
- Scalpel with 2 sterile blades (can be substituted with sterile razor blades in an emergency)
- Large sewing needle
- Bandana (can be used as a tourniquet, gauze pad, bandage, sling, sun cover, etc. see also: Hoo-Rag)
- 2 Dust masks (rated N95 or higher)
- Dental Floss (non-flavored)
- Emergency blanket (used for treating hypothermia)
- Small tube of quick-dry glue like Super Glue
- Small first-aid book/guide
Advanced Kit: This kit includes everything from the Basic supplies list, in addition to the more advanced and/or optional supplies listed below. Remember that if you don’t know how to use it, there’s no reason to carry it. This more advanced kit could easily be stored at home, while the basic kit fits well within a Bug Out Bag.
- CPR mask
- 2x Sterile syringes
- 2x 25g Quick Clot pouches
- C.A.T. tourniqet or alternative option
- Full suture kit
- Burn gel – Aloe gel
- 2x Instant cold packs
- 8 oz. Bottle rubbing alcohol (see: Rubbing Alcohol the Multi-Tool)
- 8 oz. Bottle hydrogen peroxide
- 4 oz. Tube itch relieve cream
- 4 oz. bottle Baby powder
All of the supplies listed above can be used to help treat a variety of medical conditions, but nothing is a cure-all and customization and training should be the first things you consider when putting together a first-aid kit. Remember to pack a variety of medications and any special equipment or medicines you may need.
WHAT TO CARRY IT IN: Because situations requiring first-aid can come up unannounced at just about anytime anywhere, we recommend keeping a small kit on hand at all times, and a larger kit stored in a well-marked, waterproof, and organized container designed for quick and easy access. Listed below are a few types of containers/packaging that work well for first-aid kits.
Modified Ammunition Can - These are fairly heavy-duty and allow for pretty rough transport of important medical supplies. Ammunition cans can be found at most military surplus stores as well as through online dealers. Modifying an ammo can for first aid is as simple as compartmentalizing and organizing the contents in heavy-duty plastic bags.
This type of container isn’t the best for bugging out on foot, but they are great for the home, vehicle, and pre-stocked bug out locations.
Plastic Bins, Boxes, etc. - Often resealable, plastic bins and boxes can offer a great solution to store large quantities of medical supplies, and if not over packed, they can be easily loaded into a bug out vehicle for transport.
Canvas or Nylon Bags - Lightweight, extremely durable, and easy to pack; these are great containers for first-aid kits… but there is a downside to them as well. Many canvas/nylon bags are NOT waterproof, leaving your important medical supplies in danger of becoming soaked and useless.
Heavy-Duty Resealable Bags - Thick resealable plastic freezer bags make exceptional storage for first aid kits. They are highly durable, waterproof, lightweight, easy to use, cost-effective, readily available, and you can see what you’re reaching for without having to open it up.
No matter the container, mark sure to clearly mark your first-aid kit. Typically speaking, first aid kits are marked by a large red or white cross and contained in a bright red or white satchel or container. The common marking and color of most first aid kits, speaks to the universal language of symbols vs. text and allows for easy identification, no matter where you are.
DO NOT: Just as important as the “do” is the “don’t”.
- Don’t assume you have what it takes to treat an ailment, unless you’ve been trained to do so.
- Don’t pack what you can’t use.
- Don’t forget to rotate your medical supplies and routinely check your stock.
- Don’t neglect to apply after-care to all wounds and ailments. First-aid doesn’t stop with the initial treatment.
IN CONCLUSION: A well stocked first-aid kit can go a long way to keeping you alive, but as well as a physical inventory, you’ll need to receive training in AT LEAST basic first aid. You can find Red Cross classes in your area here. Make sure to keep in practice and follow-up on any training you receive .