What Needs to Be in a First Aid Kit?

What Needs to Be in a First Aid Kit?
First aid kits are an essential part of wilderness survival kits. Those unfortunate enough to be unexpectedly thrust into a wilderness survival situation often incur injuries at the onset and over the course of their survival experience. Health issues that are minor when we are in the comfort of our homes can have serious consequences if not treated in a survival situation.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Adhesive bandages (multiple sizes) Adhesive cloth tape Aloe burn cream Antacids Antibacterial cream Anti-diarrheal medicine Antihistamine Antiseptic pads Butterfly bandages Container Cough suppressant/expectorant Cotton swabs Decongestant Electrolyte solution packs First aid quick reference card Gauze pads Hydrocortisone (1%) cream Instant cold compress Insect repellant Lip balm Mild laxative Mild pain relievers (aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen) Moleskin Oral antibiotics Permanent marker Roller bandage Saline eye drops Scissors Space blanket Soap Sterile, disposable gloves (minimum two pair) Sunscreen Thermometer (nonmercury) Triangular bandages Tweezers
  • Adhesive bandages (multiple sizes)
  • Adhesive cloth tape
  • Aloe burn cream
  • Antacids
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Anti-diarrheal medicine
  • Antihistamine
  • Antiseptic pads
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Container
  • Cough suppressant/expectorant
  • Cotton swabs
  • Decongestant
  • Electrolyte solution packs
  • First aid quick reference card
  • Gauze pads
  • Hydrocortisone (1%) cream
  • Instant cold compress
  • Insect repellant
  • Lip balm
  • Mild laxative
  • Mild pain relievers (aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
  • Moleskin
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Permanent marker
  • Roller bandage
  • Saline eye drops
  • Scissors
  • Space blanket
  • Soap
  • Sterile, disposable gloves (minimum two pair)
  • Sunscreen
  • Thermometer (nonmercury)
  • Triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
Step 1
As with your overall survival kit, the first aid kit should be prepared in anticipation of the environment and likely injuries that may be incurred. Contemplate the health issues that will likely need to be addressed for a particular survival situation. For example, identify potential hazards related to transportation, terrain, climate, flora and fauna, endemic diseases, infrastructure, sanitation, political stability and any preexisting health issues such as allergies or cardiovascular problems. For instance, if traveling to Iceland, you do not need to pack antimalaria medicine.
Step 2
Choose items carefully for the first aid kit. Size and weight are important limiting factors. When possible, allow items to serve double duty. For example, medicines that treat multiple cold symptoms may replace multiple medications that treat individual symptoms. Similarly, conservatively using the materials you have can prolong their availability, such as cutting gauze pads to closely match the size of the wound.
Step 3
Organize items into waterproof, sealable bags. Finding items quickly and efficiently can make providing first aid much easier. Alcohol pads, for instance, can be kept together using a rubber band or small bag. It is easier to find this stack of alcohol pads than individual ones that are scattered throughout the first aid kit.
Step 4
Place the first aid items with your survival kit. Ideally, many of the items should be placed together so that you can locate and access them when needed.
Step 5
Keep your first aid kit and survival kit with you, especially whenever there is a chance they could be needed. Although not always possible due to regulations, try to keep these items in a carry-on bag rather than checked baggage when traveling by air. A mishandled bag containing these items can leave you without essentials. If you are camping and take a day hike, keep your first-aid and survival kits with you.
Step 6
Learn first aid skills. Knowledge of when and how to use the tools in the first aid kit along with practicing the skills will allow greater success when addressing health problems. First aid classes are regularly available from your local Red Cross, hospitals and adult education programs at many colleges and schools, as well as a number of private businesses.

Tips & Warnings

 
Items listed are only a guide. The contents of your first aid kit may vary due to size limitations, existing health problems (include needed medications), environment and skill.
 
Keep medicines out of reach of children.

Article Written By David Chandler

David Chandler has been a freelance writer since 2006 whose work has appeared in various print and online publications. A former reconnaissance Marine, he is an active hiker, diver, kayaker, sailor and angler. He has traveled extensively and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida where he was educated in international studies and microbiology.

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