If you’ve ever read one of our articles on bug-out bags, survival gear, or emergency kits, then you know that a first aid kit is a necessity in itself. You’d be pretty naive to think that you would be able to survive a survival situation without some sort of first aid kit. Accidents happen, and sometimes those accidents are going to need some sort of medical attention.
There are so many first aid kits that can be purchased (already preassembled) and you also have the option of putting one together yourself. No matter which option you go with, you’ll want to be sure that you have these basic items included in your kit.
Probably the most common item in any first aid kit, whether it’s one inside of a school’s classroom, or jammed into your camping backpack – is an adhesive bandage. These can be picked up from just about anywhere, the pharmacy, a grocery store, or even the dollar store. These are perfect for those minor cuts and scrapes. Try purchasing them in a variety of sizes. A bandage around your finger isn’t going to need to be the same size as the one you’d need for a scraped knee. Having a few different sizes is really a good idea because you just never know what is going to happen.
Have a larger size wound that can’t be covered with just a bandaid? Then it’s a good thing you have some wound dressings in that first aid kit of yours. Wound dressing is the generic term for any item that is being used to cover or secure a wound or laceration. In this, some of the best options to have are non-adhesive gauze. This will be placed over the top of the open wound if large or deep enough. You will want to secure that with medical tape, also called silk tape. You could also use a PBT elastic bandage. Of course, we’d recommend having both in your first aid kit.
We seem to have gotten ahead of ourselves a bit. Let’s back up. Before you apply any type of bandage, whether the affected area is small or large, you’ll want to be sure you are properly cleaning the wound. You’re probably thinking that it’s a good thing that we have alcohol pads, wipes, or solution, in our kits. That’s true …. but alcohol shouldn’t actually be used to clean out a wound. It isn’t actually made to apply to open skin. In fact, it slows down the healing process. The best way to clean a laceration is by irrigating it. This essentially means pouring clean water on it to wash out any debris. Alcohol pads are best used to clean or sterilize the skin BEFORE a laceration or puncture. For example, alcohol swabs are used on the arm before you get an injection. Technically, you can use it on an open wound, but it’s going to hurt, and it may even delay that healing process.
Since you’ve got your survival kit or your backpack, we know you also have water. Who would ever leave home without some fresh water? Irrigate the wound before applying a bandage or wound dressing. Check out some more specific details on cleaning a wound here.
After you’ve irrigated or washed the affected area you’ll want to be sure you’re checking for any visible debris or foreign objects. If you see something, use the tweezers that you have in your first aid kit to help remove the object. I wouldn’t recommend using the tweezers for tiny things that might be easier to get out with water, but for things a little bit larger, please don’t just use your fingers! There are so many particles on your hands that can make a cut worse, or even infect it, so it’s a good thing you have tweezers in your first aid kit.
Another item we recommend having in your first aid kit, and again, this is pretty standard, is at least one pair of gloves. Even if you assemble your first aid kit for just yourself – you hike alone, you explore alone, you live alone – you just never know who or what you may encounter. You might not have the first thought to grab a pair of gloves before assisting someone in need, but not doing this simple action can really be putting yourself at risk. If you are ever coming into contact with blood or other bodily fluids you should be wearing gloves as a precaution.
This last essential item may come as a surprise to you. But if you’ve checked out our other blog posts you know how much we like this item. Paracord. You might be thinking, what does paracord have to do with first aid? Well, I’m going to tell you … a lot!
There are so many uses for paracord, and there are several uses that involve first aid. Paracord can be used as a tourniquet. It can be used to secure a splint or fasten a sling in place. If you really need to get creative, you can use the inner strands of the paracord for sutures.
It’s totally up to you how you assemble your first aid kit. There are hundreds of items to choose from when creating your perfect assortment. At the very least, we recommend having these top essentials.