This guest post was provided by Lewis James, a trained and experienced emergency medical professional. He provides some insight into what to include in your first-aid kit. For more tips and information on first-aid kits, check out his blog over at www.unflinchable.com
While your first-kit should be tailored to your specific situation, here are the 10 basic items that should be in every first-aid kit:
I recommend the SWAT tourniquet as it is very simple to use and is a versatile item for your first-aid kit. It can be used as an elastic bandage to wrap a sprained ankle, it can work as a pressure dressing on a wound, and can obviously be used as a tourniquet in extreme situations.
Don’t just toss in a couple 4”x4” gauze pads and call it a day. You can get a package of compressed gauze for a couple bucks that is the equivalent of 39 pieces of 4”x4” gauze! The best part is, it is very compact! Pack as much gauze as you can fit in your kit. QuikClot gauze could also be added if you have the space.
3. Tape (or Steri-Strips)
Tape is a necessity for every first- aid kit. You can use it with a small piece of gauze to make a band-aid or use it to secure larger dressings to a wound. I personally carry a pack of large Steri-Strips (4” x ½”) instead of tape because they are much stickier and do a better job of holding wounds closed. You can use them like tape to hold gauze to a wound as well. Tape can do all the same things, I just prefer Steri-Strips in a compact first-aid kit.
4. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
This can be used to treat allergic reactions. Some people will say to carry an EpiPen, but if you don’t have a prescription for one, do NOT carry it! Epinephrine is a dangerous drug! Obviously, if you DO have a prescription for an EpiPen due to a severe allergy, you should have one with you at all times.
This is used to relieve pain, inflammation, and fevers. You could substitute Tylenol or another NSAID, I just prefer Ibuprofen because it’s a little stronger.
This is similar to Ibuprofen in that it can reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. Because aspirin is also a mild blood thinner, it can also be used to reduce the risk of a stroke or a heart attack, which is why I recommend packing it in addition to Ibuprofen.
7. Antibiotic Ointment
When you’re dressing a smaller wound, it’s a good idea to put some antibiotic ointment on it to reduce the risk of infection. This isn’t a substitute for cleaning the wound though! Wound cleaning is still a vital part of first-aid.
You need to have gloves in a first-aid kit to not only protect wounds from further contamination while you’re dressing them, but also to protect yourself in case you are treating someone else.
Ever tried to pull a splinter out of your hand without tweezers? Pretty difficult! Tweezers can also be used to pull out ticks. As a side note, the plastic tweezers that are usually included in first-aid kits are useless! Get some real stainless-steel ones.
10. Safety Pins
Safety pins are one of those items that can really help you out when you’re trying to “MacGyver” (improvise) first-aid gear. For example, if you need to make a sling out of a t-shirt or piece of fabric, safety pins will be very helpful in making it secure.
Those are the 10 items that I recommend you keep in your first-aid kit. There is gear you could add to give you deeper capability, but this is a very good foundation. These 10 items alone make a solid, small, and lightweight first-aid kit that would be perfect for your survival kit or bug-
out bag! These items are the core of every first-aid kit that I have, including even my vehicle first-aid kit.