A first-aid kit, as well as the training to use it, is one of theTen Essentialsthat is universally known yet rarely thought. When you need to reach for yours, though, you will be grateful for the time you spent to ensure yours is up to the task.
Even if you pack only a small first-aid kit, you will have a great resource for treating minor issues and for preventing them from becoming major ones. Managing aches and pains also makes any trip more enjoyable.
You can buy a pre-made kit or make your own. Our article offers tips on both approaches to getting yourself a first-aid kit for the outdoors.
You may purchase a first aid kit (like this on Amazon), but putting together your own has several advantages. For one, it could be less expensive since you probably have a lot of the supplies on hand already. Additionally, even if you purchase a basic first aid kit,you will want to personalize it and include supplies specific to your family’s needs. And third, it is a lot easier to make sure everything in your kit is within its expiration date when you have assembled it yourself.
Premade first-aid kits
Most people get premade first-aid kits to save time and money compared to buying individual supplies and assembling a kit. Another reason to choose a premade kit is to ensure you don’t overlook any important supplies or tools.
Which kit should you get? Consider the following:
- Group size:Kit-makers regularly estimate the number of people a kit will serve. Your results may vary. Kits for bigger groups simply include more of the supplies you use up, like bandages and pain meds. Medical tools like thermometers, tweezers or splints remain moderately constant from kit to kit.
- Trip length or distance:Same
- thing; you will usually find an estimated number of days in a kit’s product description.
- Trip activity:Kit-makers might, for instance, include a fully waterproof sack that makes a kit suited to paddling. Smaller, lighter kits are appropriate when you are planning light-and-fast pursuits like trail running. Bigger, more extensive kits make sense for activities like car camping.
- Comprehensive kits:Even if you don’t know how to use everything, it could be valuable to get a kit with advanced tools and supplies because others in your group or area might have greater medical knowledge. You can grow into your kit by getting medical training.
Regardless of the kit you choose:
- Trip risks:Example: If you are headed where poison ivy and ticks are concerns, consider adding a poison ivy treatment and tick-specific tool to your kit.
- Special needs:Example: If you require prescription meds or an EpiPen in town, you should add them to your outdoor first-aid kit. On group trips, survey members so that everyone is aware of special supplies in each person’s kit.
How many kits should you get? Consider the following:
- Always pack an individual kit:Even if someone has a big kit for your group, you need to be able to treat personal nicks and scratches. And the person carrying the group kit may not always be close at hand.
- Consider multiple kits:You don’t use the same pack for day hiking, and cycling. The same strategy makes sense for first-aid kits.
Build your first-aid kit
You will need a water-resistant bag or pouch to hold everything. You might also need an assortment of zip-lock plastic bags, plastic pill bottles and a waterproof marker and tape to label things. After that, it is a matter of buying or gathering the supplies to fill your kit.
We highlight some essentials below. For a more extensive supply list, see ourfirst-aid checklist.
First-aid kit basics
- Assorted adhesive bandages
- Athletic tape
- Blister treatments
Medication and ointments/lotions
- Antibiotic ointments
- Antacid tablets
- Antidiarrheal pills
- Rehydration salts
- Prescription medicines
- Small mirror
- Blunt tip scissors
- Razorblade or knife
- Bee-sting kit
- Tick remover
- Antiseptic towelettes
- Burn to dress
- Splints and elastic wraps
First-aid kit instructions
Always include a quick-reference guide or a more comprehensive booklet that explains how to administer first aid. Kit-makers pay more attention to the quality of their guides. Therefore, you should do the same.
Trip-specific first-aid supplies
Just as you would with a premade kit, you need to supplement your home-assembled kit with extra supplies for a longer trip or supplies for your destination, activity and group members.
Additional Outdoor Safety Essentials
Some essentials are closely related to first-aid: A heat-reflecting blanket to stave off hypothermia or help treat shock, sunscreen, bug repellent, and hand sanitizer might all be carried in or near your kit.
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Although quality kits come with reference materials, getting first-aid training before your trip is a wise move.
A first-aid guide does not convey the true nature of medical trauma. Training will help you overcome the initial fear and shock of responding to an emergency. Being fully prepared to deal with a serious incident beforehand can make all the difference.
Outdoor first-aid courses are taught by many organizations, includingREI Outdoor School, which offers wilderness medicine classes in many REI stores.
Other notes when equipped with first aid kit at home
You need to put at least one set indoors and one under the seat or in a car, somewhere easy to find but make sure to keep out of reach of children. When your child is old enough, make sure you have explained in detail to them the purpose of the first aid kit and where you store them.
The first aid kit can come in many different shapes and sizes, and often you will be able to find a decent first aid kit at your local pharmacy. You can also create your own unique set. There are also some first aid kits designed specifically for different purposes such as hiking, camping or boating.
Finally, if you want to buy existing products or collect and create your first-aid kit, you should also consider the following:
- Always keep emergency phone numbers with you;
- Regularly check the first aid kit;
- Make sure the flashlight battery is always working;
- Check the expiry date and replace used or expired items.
Learn how to give first aid
Although quality first-aid kits come with references, learning how to give first aid before your trip is a wise step.
First-aid instructions do not convey the true nature of a medical injury. Training will help you overcome your initial fear and shock in dealing with emergencies. Being well prepared to deal with a previous serious event can make you not too worried and confused.
I hope it can help you.