Medical Kit/First Aid

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When it comes to medical supplies, there seem to be a few different mindsets out there. Some people go with just your very basic first aid kit, like the kind you can buy pre-assembled and containing such items as band aids, antibiotic ointment, and cleansing wipes. Some go all out, buying advanced medical equipment for surgeries and procedures that only the highly trained should be performing. I, and many others, choose to walk a middle path. I want gauze bandages, blood clotting powder, bottles of antibiotics, suture kits, etc. Essentially, I want to have the supplies to perform medical procedures in emergency scenarios which can reasonably be performed by an amateur or someone with minimal to moderate training. If I’m going to have to hunt down a surgeon or put together a clean room, I consider it to be not worth the effort or expense of purchasing those supplies. Is there a chance I could wind up finding someone capable of performing such procedures and making use of the supplies after all? Well, there is always a chance. But since I’m not a millionaire the money, effort, and storage space is far better used on items that I’m more likely to need and can be used by more people.

As far as purchasing medical supplies, shopping around can really make a difference and you also need to determine your comfort level on using items past expiration or using products intended for animal use. For example, if I want to buy a product to stop bleeding on surface wounds, I have a number of options. I can buy a single use QuikClot sponge for $16 which will cover about a 5″x5″ area. I can buy 2g packets of Celox (blood clotting crystals) which will pour into the wound instead of just sitting on top in a gauze which is about $8 for three (2g) packets. Or I can buy a 16 oz bottle of blood stop powder from a veterinary supply store for $6. Decisions, decisions.

I’m lucky enough that nobody in my immediate family has any medical condition requiring regular medication. If you do, it’ll be important to research the best ways to handle that. If it has a decent shelf life it may be that you can get a few months extra supply and then start rotating them out, using the oldest first. If it expires quickly or needs refrigeration it’ll be more difficult. Is there another medication or supplement that can be used to control it, even if they aren’t as good as the normal medicine? Are there creative ways to prolong shelf life? Be aware that while some medicines can be safely and effectively used past their “expiration dates,” with some they become ineffective or dangerous after said date.

A note on storage: In addition to having a bag well suited for holding medical supplies, I also store everything in a number of ziplocs (like all bandages in a ziploc, tape in a ziploc, etc). Not only does this help keep it organized and protected from water, but if I need a bag to dispose of some waste or something I can just grab one of the ones I’m using for my kit. It’s good to keep some extras in there just in case though, as well as perhaps a trash bag or two.

  • Bandages, various sizes
  • Sterile gauze dressings, various sizes
  • Triangular bandages
  • Elastic bandage wrap
  • Tape
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Instant cold packs
  • Needle Nose/Fine Nose Tweezers
  • Blunt tip scissors
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Cotton swabs
  • Thermometer (and replacement battery; hypothermia thermometer preferable)
  • Saline solution (to rinse out the eye or a wound)
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Hydrocortisone cream or similar
  • Zinc based cream for rashes or raw skin (think diaper cream)
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Blister kit
  • Moleskin
  • Insect sting/bite treatment
  • Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and/or Aspirin
  • Antihistamine
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Calamine lotion
  • Anti-diarrhea meds
  • Laxatives
  • Antacids
  • Glucose tablets
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Antifungal cream or powder
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Finger splint
  • SAM splint
  • Breathing barrier/CPR mask
  • Epinephrine auto-injector, if prescribed
  • Scalpel with extra blades
  • Sutures
  • Duct tape
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Irrigation syringe (20ml) and 18 gauge angiocatheter (why?)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Small mirror
  • Potassium iodide tablets or Lugol’s iodine drops (to help protect against radioactive iodine) (why?)
  • Israeli bandage
  • Tourniquet
  • Pulse Oximeter (and extra batteries)

Reference Books:

  • Davis’ Drug Guide for Nurses (or similar reference, older editions can be purchased quite inexpensively)
  • Emergency War Surgery, The Survivalist’s Medical Desk Reference (access digital copy on the U.S. Army website)

Other Reference Materials:

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