Everyone knows that first-aid is an important part of any preparedness plan. But how many of us are actually preparing properly when it comes to this area?
There are a lot of different kinds of ready-made first-aid kits on the market but I’m not a big fan of most of them. Many advertise that they contain over 100 items but when you take a closer look you’ll find that this figure includes 25 tiny fingertip bandages and lots of other small items that while useful are not critical in an emergency. One notable exception to this is the military grade M-17 Medic Bag which sells for about $110 online. This is a serious kit meant to be used by trained combat medics:
My personal first-aid kits are all custom made by me. Putting together your own kit is obviously much more time consuming than just picking up a pre-packaged kit but in my opinion, if made with care, they are far superior. I spent an afternoon coming up with a list of items I’d need and doing some shopping online from e-tailers like Allegro Medical, 1staidsupplies.com, Masune First-Aid and Safety, and First-Aid Supplies Plus. I also visited eBags.com to pick up some inexpensive bags and pouches of different sizes to package all of my supplies in.
When putting together my own kit I start with the basics recommended by the American Red Cross here and then bolster the kit to my liking. Having plenty of common band-aids around is always good but I tend to lean towards lots of extra rolls of sterile gauze and surgical tape. With gauze and tape I can bandage just about any size wound. I also like to add plenty of over the counter medicines that can be useful in an emergency like ibuprofen, baby aspirin, Imodium, Benadryl, generic cold/flu medicine, and the like. You may also want to keep a small amount of any critical prescription medicines you or your family may need in your kit. Just be sure to rotate your stock so it doesn’t expire.
There are also some specialty items out there that are worth a look, although they tend to be a bit expensive. Take a look at this productfrom QuikClot that helps stop severe bleeding fast. Not a bad thing to have in your kit in an emergency, I have a couple in mine. I also have a skin stapler and a small surgical kit.
So now that we’ve moved from band-aids and aspirin to staples and scalpels I’d like to talk about the most important first-aid supply of all, Knowledge. It’s one thing to stock up on fancy supplies, it’s quite another to know how to use them. There’s nothing more important than making sure you have the correct training to be effective with the supplies you have on hand and to make sure you don’t do more harm than good.
So add a few good first-aid books to your kit. I like Medicine For The Outdoors and Where There Is No Doctor quite a bit. Of course there are many books on the subject, I recommend everyone read at least two or three and keep them on hand so you can reference them in an emergency. And if at all possible take a course or two on first-aid and CPR. There’s really no substitute for quality training.
Remember, even if you had access to a fully equipped operating room that wouldn’t make you a surgeon. Knowledge is key.