Being prepared for unexpected events is key to survival. From natural disasters to being injured out in the wilderness, a medical kit can be the difference between life and death. A medical kit with the right supplies can help you better navigate challenges that occur in some of the most under-resourced settings.
Preparing a medical kit can seem like a daunting task. While it may be tempting to overpack, it is critical that only essential supplies are packed for fast and efficient use. The items you choose should have the highest impact and revolve around your specific needs.
Medical Kit Essentials
Determining what items to include in your medical kit should be centered around ensuring your self-sufficiency when first responders cannot administer aid. A comprehensive medical kit and the skills to administer aid can help you oversee traumatic injuries with ease.
Here is a complete list of general trauma and pain supplies that will cover a wide range of scenarios should you ever need to use your medical supplies. You can either keep these items at home or place them in your bug-out bag.
Wound Trauma Supplies
A tourniquet is an elastic band used to apply pressure to a major artery or vein. While you will not be conducting brain surgery, the tourniquet is an impressive tool with the ability to prevent hemorrhaging and massive bleeding in an emergency setting. The tourniquet is lightweight and durable and can be used multiple times on yourself and others.
Compressed gauze, also known as emergency krinkle gauze, is a thin translucent fabric used to dress and swab wounds. Compressed gauze is different from regular gauze as it comes packaged airtight for compact transportation. When opened, the gauze will expand and become highly absorbent when applied over a wound.
Compressed gauze is extremely versatile and can be used to absorb blood, apply ointment, or pour rubbing alcohol onto a wound. More importantly, because compressed gauze was made for direct wound application, it maintains a sterile environment which is critical to ensuring a fast-healing process. Be mindful that dressing a major open wound in gauze is only a temporary fix and medical attention should be sought immediately.
Medical tape helps stabilize bandaging, like gauze, which has been placed over an open wound. Surgical tape, waterproof tape, cloth tape are just some of the few of the various types of medical tapes that exist.
Band-aids come in a variety of styles to fit different injury sizes. While gauzes typically cover larger wounds, band-aids are great for covering smaller injuries like knee scrapes or finger cuts. The adhesive sections on the band-aids will ensure your wound is secured and protected from any debris slipping in.
Having access to water and soap is not likely in an emergency setting. Hand sanitizer is vital and will help you avoid further aggravating an injury if you have dirty hands. When addressing a wound, your risk of infection significantly decreases when using hand sanitizer.
Used by paramedics out on the field, trauma shears can cut through nearly anything you are wearing for quick wound access. Good trauma shears will cut through pants, boots, thick clothing, and even bullet-resistant vests.
Purchasing quality trauma shears are worth the investment as medical personnel would be the first to tell you how critical it is to have full access and visibility to an injury in order to make a treatment assessment.
A multi-tool is a handy and flexible tool that can be used to perform various tasks. Its numerous built-in instruments such as scissors, knives, pliers, and screwdrivers, are helpful in that they are adaptable to many different scenarios.
A multi-tool is a replacement for your traditional set of tools. It is not designed to be used for the same kinds of work they are typically used for, but rather formatted as an ever-ready solution for any unforeseen challenges that come your way.
There are several gloves on the market that can be used for your medical kit, however, none compared to the nitrile glove. Although they are not necessarily sterile, they are excellent at creating a barrier against chemical and biological germs.
Nitrile gloves were made to protect you and anyone else you provide aid to. The synthetic rubber material they are made of will make the examination process less worrisome as they are resistant to puncture and abrasion.
Alcohol pads are a quick and efficient way to prepare and cleanse your skin for injection or incision. Alcohol pads are compact and a great way to create a barrier from bacteria entering your body when a laceration or piercing is present.
Taking particular care of open wounds is critical if you want to avoid developing an infection. Wound washing can remove debris and pave the way for a quick healing process. The end goal of using an antiseptic or antibacterial wash is to reduce the growth of bacteria so that new cells can thrive in a clean environment.
The SAM splint is a thin aluminum sheet that is meshed between foam. This splint is useful for stabilizing injuries such as broken bones or sprains as it can be bent and stiffened.
Engineered to accommodate any injury size, the SAM splint can be cut to size without risk of being cut or punctured. Lightweight and compact, the SAM splint can also be cleaned, rerolled, and used multiple times.
Earloop Face Masks
Earloop face masks can be purchased in a disposable style. When purchasing a face mask ensure it is properly fitted and comfortable when worn over your face. Masks are effective in protecting yourself and individuals you render aid to. Face masks are great protection against airborne pathogens and can help minimize the spread of contagious illnesses.
Suture kits are composed of different instruments for stitching damaged tissue after an injury. Packing a suture kit will ensure you are equipped to remove debris from open wounds and make incisions with precision on the flesh.
Once your wound is closed and healed, the suture kit also comes with pre-packaged sterile tools to remove sutures while preventing the reintroduction of bacteria to a healing wound.
General Pain Relief Supplies
General Aches and Pain
Acetaminophen, Aspirin, and Ibuprofen work great for relieving general aches and pain. Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin are a few name-brand examples you can include in your medical kit.
For targeted pain like joint or back pain, Aleve and Lidocaine patches will provide temporary relief.
Anti-itch cream and Calamine lotion can help with excessive itching. Often this is a result of having encountered poison ivy or having been bitten by a bug. The hydrocortisone ingredient in the cream will reduce itching and Calamine lotion can be used to alleviate violent reactions associated with poison ivy.
For mild allergic reactions or even seasonal allergies, antihistamines like Benadryl or Claritin are a great way to address these symptoms.
Active charcoal comes in a powder form that can be used as an emergency treatment when a poison is ingested. Once the powder is mixed with liquid, it prevents the stomach from absorbing and dispersing the poison into the body. For severe poisoning, several power doses will be needed.
Sprains and Swelling
For muscle sprains or swelling, a combination of hot & cold gel packs can be applied to the injury. Cold packs can reduce swelling and provide temporary pain relief. Heat packs will generally help you relax and loosen any tight tissues to stimulate blood flow.
Headlamps are a great way to gain visibility of your surroundings and injuries when you’re in the dark. Headlamps also allow you to freely use both hands to better manage any emergencies.
While your medical kit is supplied with emergency essentials, it should also be customized to fit your specific health and medical needs. For example, diabetics may need extra insulin packed or glucose tablets. If you are prone to asthma, packing additional inhalers would benefit you as well.
Universal essentials are a base for your kit, but it is vital that you also pack medication that gives special attention to any medical condition.
Emergency whistles are beneficial to have on hand in case your cell phone battery drains or if there is no satellite connection in your area. Emergency whistles can help rescuers pinpoint your location if for any reason you cannot yell or are injured. They are also great for scaring off wildlife or human attackers.
Hygiene products are not critical to have, but convenient depending on who you ask. Below is a list of personal hygiene products that are compact and easy to carry in your medical kit:
2. Feminine products
5. Disposable wipes
6. Shampoo/bar soap
7. Nail clippers
Carrying a large water supply in your emergency bag is not ideal, however, the LifeStraw has made access to water in emergencies possible. The LifeStraw is a portable filtration system that purifies water as you drink water through it. So long as you have access to running water, your water supply is unlimited.
If for any reason you forget or do not know how to use a specific item in your medical kit, ensure that you jot down all detailed instructions on how to use it. Your instructions should be an easy step-by-step guide for anyone to use should they have to use anything out of your medical kit.
If you have children, it would be beneficial to do a walk-through of each medical item, demonstrating their use and even practicing different emergency scenarios.
Safeguarding Your Life
Emergency preparedness is important for unanticipated situations. Having a medical kit on hand is just as important as self-defense. It will allow you to promptly take action and render aid when needed. While some medical supplies are complex in their usage, it is valuable to take up training courses on how to apply them correctly.
Do not wait to learn the importance of emergency preparedness the hard way. Lack of preparation will only increase risks to yourself and others. Having a fully stocked medical kit will give you the peace of mind of having prepared for future medical emergencies.