Top 10 Items to Include in Your First-Aid Kit

by Erich

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

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:

1. Tourniquet

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.

2. Gauze

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.

5. Ibuprofen

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.

6. Aspirin

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.

8. Gloves

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.

9. Tweezers

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.

What items are in your first-aid kit? Leave a comment! Follow me on Twitter and Google+, and feel free to contact me if you want help building your first-aid kit!

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Comment by Lewis
2014-04-11 10:50:32

Hey, are you talking about my site ( or Tactical Intelligence? If you mean my site, I originally created it on Weebly. I’ve customized it a fair bit though. If you’re looking for an easy way to get started, Weebly is really easy to use.

Comment by Lewis
2014-04-12 23:50:37

Thanks, I appreciate the kind words!

Comment by JJ
2014-05-12 21:39:53

Hi Erich,
I am sorry that I just don’t have time to read through all of the comments so I hope that this isn’t redundant. I do have one item that is well worth considering for your first aid kit. Light, but messy. Powdered charcoal.
* can pull poison out of wounds externally (documented for snakebites in tots, scorpions and the like
* does the absolute fastest job in clearing out GI bugs – whether the victim is puking or having diarrhea – my peeps will gladly down a glass of charcoal water when they are ill
* and, if that isn’t enough, it absorbs most of the poisons one is likely to encounter in the woods.
Dosage: we do between two teaspoons and two tablespoons in 8 oz of water. Charcoal has more info.
Hope this helps someone as much as it has our crew

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2014-05-15 10:25:25

Excellent tip JJ. Yes powdered charcoal is a fantastic natural remedy.

Comment by Lewis
2014-05-20 07:38:27

Thanks JJ, that’s a good tip. Lightweight additions are always good! I believe it is also commonly used on pets as well as people.

Comment by S.
2014-05-26 18:50:15

Where does a person buy powdered charcoal? Or(this is weird!) are you suggesting the ashes from the fireplace? Never heard of this before! I like the natural idea, but not sure what you mean.

Comment by Lewis
2014-05-28 09:35:50

Something like this should work! For further research purposes, it’s usually called “activated charcoal” and you can get it in powder form or in a liquid.

2017-05-29 00:32:29


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