Nowadays, everyone’s got a mini first aid kit or bag on hand. Whether it be at home, at the office, or stored in the trunk of your car, a first aid kit has become a necessity.
It’s not hard to see why really. Everyone wants to be prepared just in case something goes wrong. Having a basic first aid kit on hand makes for better survival chances.
But what about a first aid kit that covers most or all emergency situations? The perfect first aid kit that even MacGyver would be proud of?
Here’s how you can do that in this expansive first aid guide:
How To Prep Yourself Medically
Before we dive into what you can get for your first aid bag and individual first aid kit (IFAK) you have to make sure you’re medically prepped. It’s one thing to go out and buy the supplies and another to know how to use them.
Besides, we’re not going to lie. It feels good to be medically confident. So get medically prepping!
Learn life-saving skills
If you want to be prepared for when SHTF, then learning life-saving skills is 100% on the to-do list. We've got three skills for you that you better learn.
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
It's as basic as it can get, but knowing how to administer CPR can truly save lives. There are a lot of classes you can attend to get a certification that you are qualified to administer CPR.
- Heimlich Maneuver
There's been a lot of stories of how strangers save people from choking on things by merely applying the Heimlich Maneuver. That's why it's a useful thing to learn. We suggest you learn both the Heimlich Maneuver for adults and infants/children. Applying the maneuver for adults on children can do more harm than good if you don't do it properly, so training is a must.
- Using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
This device is everywhere now. From schools to malls to offices, an AED is a portable medical device that analyzes the patient's heart rhythm then determines if there's a need for a shock during sudden cardiac arrest. You do need proper training to be able to use an AED, so go and get yourself certified!
Read up on medical procedures
You don't have to read the same things medical students and doctors are learning. Still, a basic understanding of simple procedures, such as stitching wounds shut, can be helpful. At least you won't be a total fish out of water if you ever need to do a medical procedure. With that, we recommend you keep a first aid guidebook in your first aid kit.
Familiarize yourself with the meds
There's no use getting a whole bunch of medicines and stuffing it into your pack if you don't know which med is used for what. Russian Roulette medical version, anyone? The last thing you'd want is to take medicine for your tummy aches when it's meant to treat allergies.
What Medicines to Stock Up On
One thing you'd want to have for long-term survival is the right meds on hand. Stocking up on meds or at least knowing what to get can very well save lives.
Here are what we recommend you get:
**Disclaimer: Most meds mentioned here are over-the-counter meds. For those who have allergies or medical conditions, it’s best to talk to your doctor on what meds are right for you to store in your first aid kit.
Inflammation and Pain Meds
For those darn old back pains and knee pains, having some ibuprofen on hand will be really helpful. Inflammation can be a right bitch, and no one wants to deal with muscle pain when on the run.
For those annoying cramp pains during periods, women can use Naproxen to relieve the pain.
Acetylsalicylic Acid (Aspirin)
ASA is used to treat fever and pain that are brought up by other illnesses. It's excellent for general pain relief too and partly acts as a blood thinner — great for preventing blood clots and stroke. On the other hand, those who have bleeding problems (hemophilia) should probably be cautious about their intake on this.
You can use these for treating mild or moderate pains caused by headaches and toothaches. It's also great for fevers. It will definitely help you increase your resistance to feeling pain.
Calcium Carbonate (Tums Regular Strength)
Upset stomachs are the worst, and so are heartburns, and acid indigestion. Quickly ease the pain by taking calcium carbonate as an antacid.
Bismuth Subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
Known as the pink bismuth, you can use this medicine to treat indigestion, gas, stomach discomforts, and diarrhea.
Loperamide Hydrochloride (Imodium)
When shit hits the fan, shit hits the fan. Traveler's diarrhea is the last thing you'd want, and it's best to have this on you daily just in case.
Antiseptics (Neosporin; Betadine; Dettol Antiseptic Liquid)
If you've got an open wound, catching a nasty infection is one thing to worry about. That's why having antiseptics on hand is a must. It's used for general wound cleaning and does an excellent job of keeping the risk of sepsis and infection at bay.
If you've got first degree burns, burn gel is a good remedy that will relieve the pain and help manage it.
This cream is commonly used to treat several skin conditions like insect bites, allergies, and rashes. It will reduce both the itching and the swelling.
This medication is a fungicide that treats athlete's foot, ringworms, thrush, and more. It's a lifesaver out in the wild and can prove to be handy in your kit, too.
Topical decongestants and analgesics
One word: Vicks. To help soothe coughs and other symptoms, slather on some Vicks, and you're good to go. Or sleep, more like.
Diabetes is actually pretty common, and stocking up on this medicine is a must if you suffer from diabetes or have loved ones that do. It's best to consult with your medical provider how you can prep and stock up on insulin for the long run.
Beta Agonists (Ventolin)
Asthma is a bitch, and it's one that can kick your ass all the way to the gates of heaven or hell. When SHTF, you want to be prepared because if you suffer from asthma, then you know how unpredictable it can be.
Antihistamines are perfect for dealing with your allergies and curbing them so you don't go crazy scratching them, or worse yet, losing the ability to breathe because of a reaction.
For when the severe allergies hit, improve your breathing with an EpiPen injection. EpiPens are usually used in emergencies.
Phenylephrine (Sudafed PE; 4-Way Nasal Spray)
You might not think much of a sinus or nasal congestion, but when it hits you, it hurts. You get headaches, your face feels stuffy. Your nose feels stuffy. You'll even like your whole head and face is heavy. The best way to deal with that is with phenylephrine.
Ammonia Inhalant (Dynarex Ammonia)
When you're feeling lightheaded or you've passed out, a great way to bring someone back to consciousness is to have them smell some ammonia inhalant, aka smelling salts.
Oral Rehydration Salts (Equalyte; Pedialyte)
After dealing with diarrhea, you'll want to take oral rehydration salts to help with electrolyte replacement.
Though antibiotic literally means "against life," it's pretty much the lifesaver you need if you've got a nasty injury that's prone to infection. Antibiotics stop infections, killing off the bacteria nicely to save your life.
Nothing like good old soap and water to keep you clean, especially when dressing wounds. Soap stings way less than other wound cleaning agents, and it's also very inexpensive. It's a basic item that everyone should have in their first aid kit.
Ever got a bad sunburn while out in the sun? Well, it pays to have some sunscreen on if you're planning to spend a lot of time outdoors. One, it protects you from getting a sunburn, and two, it protects you from getting skin cancer. We think that's two good enough reasons to stock up on sunscreen.
A simple bite from a mosquito or bug can lead to some pretty annoying wounds or complications. You don't need to worry about bugs and shit when you're busy trying to survive. Use bug spray.
Situation Specific Kits
Having one first aid kit is great, but having specific kits for specific situations? We know we've got you shaking in your boots. Prepping is all about getting ahead of things and being prepared. We're taking prepping your first aid kit to the highest level with these situation-specific kits you can have on hand:
Wounds & General Trauma
A first on the list, look into getting some strong alcohol. No, not a bottle of whiskey. Legit medical alcohol to disinfect.
To do the right job, you need the right tools, and gauze is something you definitely need in your kit. It helps in deep wound and post-surgical wound healing.
There are a few great things that we love about gauze bandages. First, it has excellent ventilation, helping wounds heal faster. Second, it's absorbent and prevents excess moisture around the wound. Keeping your injury dry is key to it healing more quickly, guys!
If you got gauze bandages, then you need gauze clips to keep it in place. Plus, if you keep them in good condition, you can use them again.
First Aid Plasters and Bandages
For cuts, scrapes, and those general wounds, these will work just fine, protecting your injury from getting worse. Slap them on, and you'll be good to go.
Sure. You can get any other antiseptic out there for your first aid kit, but can you use it as a mouth rinse, too? Because with hydrogen peroxide, it's safe to use as a mouth rinse. To do that, just mix two parts water with one part hydrogen peroxide and you’re good to go. Hydrogen peroxide; hitting two birds with one stone.
Hemostatic Agents (Celox; QuikClot; Hemcon)
Widely used in the military because of how effective it stops traumatic bleeding on the battleground, hemostatic agents are easy to get. And if they're using it on the battlefield for extreme trauma cases, then hell, you need it in your first aid kit.
This type of bandage is pretty versatile and comes in the shape of a triangle. It can be used as a sling, a tourniquet, and more.
Stab wound, gunshot wounds, or any puncture wound is considered a sucking chest wound. These types of wounds are pretty dangerous as it can lead to collapsed lungs. Obviously, you can't DIY this, so having a chest seal on hand is a must as chest seals are specifically used for these types of wounds.
Hold your wound dressings and bandages with surgical tape. You can also choose to have Durapore tape, a high strength adhesion tape, which is best used in various ways. It can secure large dressings together.
Eye Irrigating Solution
Coming in bottles, these eyewashes are made up of sterile solution that you can use to clean your eyes. For those moments when your eye feels irritated, or you have something stuck in your eye, and you just can't seem to get it out, this is the solution. Literally. Pretty handy when clean water to flush your eye out isn't available.
Used mainly by paramedics and EMTs, trauma shears let you cut off clothing during emergency situations without accidentally stabbing the wounded with it. It's designed to cut off clothing safely and quickly.
If you've got the CPR certification down, which we hope you do, then a CPR mask will help in making the procedure easier for you. With a CPR mask on hand, you can safely deliver rescue breaths.
Really easy to get, you can choose to get the digital thermometers or the traditional kind. We recommend getting both just in case. You can't go wrong with having both on hand.
Blood Pressure Monitor
Having high blood pressure can be a dangerous thing if you don't monitor it, and it can lead to a lot of health problems like heart disease. You might want to invest in a blood pressure monitor just to keep things in check. As with the thermometer, you can get an electronic BP monitor that does all the work for you or go for the traditional BP monitor known as a sphygmomanometer.
An iconic instrument used by doctors, stethoscopes are used to listen to sounds that the body produces. You can hear the heartbeat, listen to their breathing, even go as far as listening to how their intestines are doing. Of course, all that isn't going to mean jack if you can't interpret what you hear. It's best to have relevant knowledge in that matter to make your stethoscopes really useful.
An otoscope is a device that lets you look into the ears. With this bad boy, you can see the ear canal and the eardrum. We might not think much about our ears, but when it comes to something going wrong with them, it can all go south very quickly. For example, how easily you can lose your sense of balance.
A fracture can happen anytime and anywhere, and to keep a fracture in place, you'll need a splint. We recommend you get a SAM splint in your kit. It's a versatile splint that's proven to be really useful in a lot of different situations.
So you've got a splint, now you need a cast. The difference between the two? A splint doesn't go all the way around while a cast does. Some fractures need a full wrap around to keep things in place. That's why an orthopedic cast is essential.
Cast Liner/Undercast Padding
Without a proper liner, the skin can get irritated from a cast or a splint. Padding going around the fracture is a must, and it will provide comfort and protection.
Dental and Oral Kit
Oral Analgesic Gel
A lifesaver when it comes to tooth pain, oral analgesic gels work as a local anesthetic. It numbs the area in your mouth where you feel pain. Toothaches are hell, but oral analgesic gels are heaven-sent.
In the worst-case scenario, when you've got no choice, extraction forceps might be what you need in a dental emergency. Having forceps on hand is going to be a better choice than a pair of rusty pliers going into your mouth.
If we were given a choice, we wouldn't really want to do any dental work at all, but sometimes, life gets in the way, and a DIY dental work needs to be done in extreme situations. That's when cheek retractors come in handy. Cheek retractors help in keeping the mouth open and give you a good view of those pearly whites.
Pretty self-explanatory. Ever tried looking at the back of your mouth with a mirror and a flashlight? Well, it's impossible. Take our word for it. Dental mirrors, on the other hand, make it super easy to check your teeth and look for cavities.
Temporary Dental Cement
For those moments you can't get to your dentist quick enough, temporary dental cement saves the day. MacGyver-ing your tooth? Forget that. Get a kit. They're pretty easy to find and are straightforward when it comes to using them.
Scalpels & Dissection Kit
Put that weapon of a machete down. You do not want to be using a blade that big to cut out a relatively small splinter. If you're going to do a surgical procedure outside of an operating room, at least have some of the proper tools to do the job.
When in doubt, stitching up a wound with sutures is still the safest way to go to make sure it holds properly.
Other things you'll need that are pretty self-explanatory:
- Hot & cold packs
- Reusable surgical gowns
- Surgical masks
- Medical Nitrile gloves
- Needles & syringes
- Sterile cotton balls
- Cotton swabs
Even with the TEOTWAWKI, childbirth can still happen, and it's best to have a birth kit ready for when you need it. This isn't something you want to DIY, especially with a newborn in the picture.
Used for fluid replacement, delivery of medication, and blood transfusions, IV kits are useful just in case you ever need to do any of that stuff mentioned. This isn't something you can DIY, and we wouldn't want you attempting that either.
It might be a little bit overwhelming, but we’d rather be overwhelmed with info about survival supplies than underwhelmed. Of course, you don’t have to get all the things we listed above. It’s meant to serve as a guide, but you can always customize your first aid kit to your liking with the specific products or brands you like.
With that said, if you’ve got suggestions on what else can be added to a first aid kit, let us know! We’d be more than happy to hear from you.