What To Pack In A First-Aid Kit

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What to Pack in a First-Aid Kit
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Global Rescue travelers surely have learned many useful skills during their adventures. Appreciating cream and sugar yet being able to drink coffee black comes to mind, along with knowing how to sew a button or mend a pair of pants, or possessing a working knowledge of the half-life of a pair of Smartwool socks. Despite the obvious utility of those skills, another thing that is equally important is knowing what to pack in an everyday, travel-friendly first-aid kit.

All destinations have inherent differences from one another just as each individual traveler has his or her own unique differences. Evaluate your own personal needs and the parameters of your travel to find the items or kit that best suits you. An easy option is to look for a commercial off-the-shelf product. There are several high-quality kits out there that cover trips of different duration and are designed for the needs of the solo traveler up through the expedition group.

The alternative to a commercial product is to build your own. Global Rescue has tailored its own list of must-have items over the years, always including commonly needed items plus a few medicines. When possible, it’s best to try to use only items that serve more than one purpose, including medications.

While it is impractical to pack for every single contingency, one can create a small, packable kit full of highly useful items that takes up very little space in your backpack. Most travel emergencies do not require a combat medic-style kit; quite the opposite. Blisters, minor soft tissue injuries (scrapes and cuts), orthopedic injuries (ankle sprains), and stomach ailments are some of the more frequently encountered issues.

The following is a list of items we recommend for every trip, whether you’re going to Switzerland or Nigeria. This is designed as a personal kit for individual use and the majority of the items can be carried in a small zippered pouch.
- Tweezers, fine point (hard to find a reason NOT to have tweezers)
- Tick remover (yes, a single-use item but very handy if needed and it’s nearly paper thin)
- Alcohol pads (eight is a good amount)
- Band-Aids (about a dozen)
- Blister pads (prefer the Band-Aid Advanced Healing, which work great and stay in place; carry a few of the regular and finger/toe variety)
- Gauze pads (a few small 2”x3” pads)
- Super glue (from minor skin tears, not ideal but works in a pinch, to getting a few more miles out of your shoes)
- Cravats (Carry two standard size triangular bandages. There is very little you can’t splint or bandage with two well-placed cravats. Too many other uses to list.)
- Ibuprofen 400mg (pain reliever, inflammation, minor fever reducer)
- Ondansetron 8mg ODT (anti-emetic; these dissolve on your tongue; great for nausea and vomiting)
- Cipro 500mg (gold standard for traveler’s diarrhea, unless you’re in Southeast Asia)
- Doxycycline 100mg (malaria prophylaxis, tick-borne disease, skin infections; a good multipurpose antibiotic)
- Pepto Bismol (chewable tablets; many indications)
- Antihistamine (a non-drowsy type like Zyrtec or Claritin; used for hives, itching, watery eyes, rash, runny nose, and sneezing due to allergies or the common cold. Secondary uses for motion sickness, anxiety, or as a sleep aid)
- Sewing kit (TSA approved for carry-on if needles and scissors are under four inches)
- Chapstick, with SPF (sunscreen for your lips, nose, ears; also useful on zippers or even hot spots)
- Iodine tabs (clean, treated water is a must)
- Small, emergency headlamp
- Duct tape (wrap about a meter around the outside of the kit)
- Consider an Epi-Pen if you or a member of your group have potentially life-threatening allergies

For trips that will take place in a more remote setting, you might augment this kit with other items, namely more medications and bandaging materials.
Prior to any trip, it is recommended that you consult with your physician to determine which medications are right for you. This can be done in conjunction with a visit to a travel clinic for vaccines and other destination specific advice. Despite the fact that many countries require medicines to be transported in their original packaging, several travelers take it upon themselves to repack the items to better fit in their luggage. Many of us are guilty of this but keep in mind that medicine not in the original packaging, especially prescription medications, run a greater risk of being confiscated.

It should be noted that a first-aid kit is not a substitute for proper first-aid training. Everyone has the potential to benefit from some type of first-aid training. Wilderness First-Aid (WFA) or the more in-depth Wilderness First Responder (WFR – pronounced woofer) are excellent options for travelers. These courses focus on providing care in austere locations with little support and finite resources. Improvising and using common on-hand items is highly stressed all the while adhering to sound medical principles. Check local outfitters and clubs for a course offering near you.
 
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Royal27

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Great post. Thanks!!!

I thought I'd just finished my first aid kit, but I think I will now modify just a bit.
 

Mekaniks

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Thanks for the post. I am kind of a first aid junkie. Several (12-15) years ago when I was working in the Alaska bush for several weeks at a time, I purchased 3 kits, small, medium, and large. Every couple years I go through them and update and replace what needs to be. The only things that I have added to my kits that are not on your listing is a package of "quick clot" and a couple of "instant wet towel". In my opinion quick clot in the single use package is light weight and easy to use and should be every kit for hunting and hiking. I have a friend that was cleaning a deer on a remote island and he slipped and cut his inner thigh. I can say that quick clot stopped the bleeding until he got to a doctor for stitches almost 12 hrs later.

The Instant Wet Towels are the diameter of a quarter and about a quarter inch thick. One or two easily fit in most of the kits. Just add water (or any liquid) and they turn into a wet cloth for cleaning up. Especially good for cleaning up after butchering in the field.
 

zephyr

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Curious about the Quick Clot, they say it burns like hell, be interested to know of your friends first hand experience. A friend who is a medic jokes that with out it you may be dead when applied because of the burning he says you might wish you were dead...
the other thing to consider with Quick Clot is that it is a fish product and anyone with a fish allergy will be compromised.
 

Mekaniks

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I talked to my buddy that used quick clot. He said the package he used was sponge that was packed with quick clot powder. He simply taped the sponge over the wound and left it there until he got to the ER. He said it did sting pretty bad but compared it to the sting of hydrogen peroxide on a wound. Never heard about it being a fish product but if that's the case it's valuable info for someone allergic to fish.
 

Mekaniks

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Oh yea, he also said that the hospital really worked at getting the wound cleaned out before they stitched it up.
 

zephyr

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After some research I found that there are several types of "QuickClot" products, some are composed of shell fish products some are not.
Bottled water or clean drinking water is a great way to clean a wound, flush the wound before dressing it will give you an idea of bleeders and what type and will clean the wound before you start to bandage it.
 

Russel. G. Keith

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HI Guys
If I might add to your list
Several (the number and type will be dictated by the size of your pack) ladies sanitary pads.
These pads are light compact and very cheap.
When combined with there adhesive backing and your triangular bandages they are very versatile and VERY effective.
There absorbansy and cost makes them ideal for a variaty of tasks
Keep safe
Russel
 

Mekaniks

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HI Guys
If I might add to your list
Several (the number and type will be dictated by the size of your pack) ladies sanitary pads.
These pads are light compact and very cheap.
When combined with there adhesive backing and your triangular bandages they are very versatile and VERY effective.
There absorbansy and cost makes them ideal for a variaty of tasks
Keep safe
Russel

That's a great idea. Very multipurpose
 

Mr. 16 gauge

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I guess I don't understand the need for the "sewing kit"o_O......although I can imagine.
I've seen all types of army range medical kits, containing hemostats, scalpels, etc. I would caution anyone who isn't medically trained against trying to "suture" up wounds, for several reasons: 1.) prior to suturing, the wound really, really needs to be cleaned out well.....if an infection sets in, it can do irreparable damage to tissue undernieth, such as nerves, tendons, etc. 2.) if nerves, tendons, etc, are involved, these need to be treated by a physician. 3.) if you are by yourself, and have a cut on your hand, how are you going to sew?
I personally think that a better alternative would be to get some packages of butterfly sutures or steri-strips....these are basically tapes that are specifically used to hold lacerations together so they can heal.

A couple of items I didn't see that might come in handy:
1.) a bottle of sterile eye wash......basically, it's normal saline in a bottle. It's used to clean out anything that might get in ones eyes, such as dust, chemicals, etc. I small eye shield might not be a bad thing to pack along either. The eye wash can also be used to help clean out small lacerations prior to treatment as well.

2.) A small (2") ace wrap.....doesn't take up much space, and can be used to help with sprains, bleeding (as part of a pressure bandage), or elapid bites.

3.) Salt (common, ordinary table salt).....comes in the little packets at the fast food stores, so it doesn't take up much room. Can be used as a replacement if someone has been perspiring too much, or can be used to treat a sore throat, or used to help safely remove leeches.

4.) a pair of small hemostats (mosquitos)....cause sometimes the pulling power of a pair of tweezers just ain't enough!

5.) a small plastic magnifying glass can be a god send for older eyes when trying to locate splinters, etc.

In addition to the drugs mentioned, I'd like to add A.) a small tube of triple antibiotic ointment, for small lacerations, blisters, etc. and B.) a small tube of hydrocortisone cream, for localized rashes/allegric reactions. I once got into some stinging nettle while grouse hunting, and I thought I was in BIG trouble!!! My hands swelled up to twice their normal size and felt like they were on fire! Fortunately, my care wasn't too far away, so I made my way back and broke out that cream......the relief was almost immediate!

Remember to check/replace these items at least annually; most of the time these things are stored in hot cars......the heat can degrade the adhesive on tape, render the meds ineffective, etc. Also, all drugs have an expiration date anymore........

Two things to remember about first aid......the first is that it is first aid; it is treatment that is used prior to more extend/relevent treatment at a medical facility (if necessary)........I've seen some people go out with kits that would stock a small E.R.!!! Great to have, but.......if you don't know how to use it, it's just so much junk! Which brings me to my second point: The time to know how to administer first aid is before you need it, not during! While a small flyer or hand out might be useful during the event, it's better to know what to do before you have to do it....there are several good field manuals out there; pick one up at the local book store and read it instead of finding out what's going on with the Kardashians!

Great topic!!! Glad to see it posted and hope no one ever needs it, but if they do I hope this thread helped them out...............
 

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Curious about the Quick Clot, they say it burns like hell, be interested to know of your friends first hand experience. A friend who is a medic jokes that with out it you may be dead when applied because of the burning he says you might wish you were dead...
the other thing to consider with Quick Clot is that it is a fish product and anyone with a fish allergy will be compromised.


The old powder quick clot was terrible... If it hits anything most the chemical reaction would start. A few older NCO's that deployed early in OIF/OEF said the Chem burns on their hands were terrible. The newer combat gauze(z-folded gauze with the clot agent) doesn't burn to my knowledge.

Ibuprofen is always good to have and if you can keep some broad spectrum antibiotics like doxy it's a good idea. Besides the booboo stuff I like to have a small blow out kit with me when I'm carrying or hunting. A good tourniquet, combat gauze, and an Israeli bandage is the minimum that I like to have with me.
 

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Snake bit kits!!! You can check with the outfitter/ PH if they carry such stuff in camp, so as not to duplicate.
 

375 Ruger Fan

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...........this video covers a few more items :)

 

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Great thread and great list. I would add small mirror and 3cc bottle of vigamox ophthalmic soln. Very difficult to remove something from you eyes without this and a Q-tip.............maybe coflex if not mentioned above.........FWB
 

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Excellent post, I may have missed it but I would add a Tourniquet to the list with a strong cautionary note. By a high quality one and LEARN TO USE IT PROPERLY. Also to use it right it hurts really bad but it will absolutely save your life when nothing else will. Keep in mind the montra "High or Die" when applying it and when it stops the bleeding and hurts like hell give it another turn or to and periodically give it a half turn. Never Ever loosen it no matter what. If it starts to fail leave that one on and apply another. Yes a make shift one can be made in a pinch but real life isn't the movies and a effective tourniquet is difficult at absolute best to make from crap laying around. A high quality one is about 30 bucks and it is absolutely useless if you don't know how to properly use it and can't apply it on yourself. Practice with it, (they won't hurt you we applied them to each other in training all the time). All this rubbish about the causing limb loss is mostly nonsense and after all what's worse than dead anyway. Hopefully you'll never need to use it but if you do it's the only thing that will save your life. If in a situation where you need one you will die, and very quickly (3-5 minutes) if you do not have one. Can you make a make shift tourniquet on yourself out of crap you have with you that will effectively work every time? No you probably can't. Buy 2 it's a 60 dollar investment and that's pretty cheap to save a life. Talk with local fire, AMS, or Police and they can point you in the right direction on what brands they like and why.
Just my two cents.
 

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