One of the most important parts of preparedness is having the right first aid supplies. Because food storage and bug out bags always seem to steal the show, first aid sometimes gets overlooked. Having at least one first aid kit around the home is great, but if a disaster strikes, you may find yourself wishing you had spent more time and effort preparing with the right kinds of first aid equipment and supplies.
You should always have some sort of medical kit with you at all times, and that includes your family members. We should all have first aid kits in our cars, our bug out/in bags, as well as in the home.
Our children need to know how important it is to properly prepare and it’s not a bad idea to give prepper gifts for birthdays and Christmas. Not only does this make gift giving decisions easier but you will also be giving a gift that has real value and can even save a life.
The Basic First Aid Kit
Here is a list of the basic first aid supplies from the Red Cross that you would want in every kit. After you have these, you will need to customize your first aid kits. What you add to them will depend on where they will be used, who will be using them, and their skill level.
2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
1 Tube Silvasorb Jel
5 antiseptic wipe packets
1 bottle of aspirin/Advil
1 blanket (space blanket)
1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
1 instant cold compress
1 box of non-latex (Nitrile) gloves
2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
Scissors & Tweezers
2 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
10 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
2 triangular bandages
First aid instruction booklet
Your Skills Will Determine Your Supplies
Before you begin to customize these first aid kits, you need to think about your skill-set first. There is no reason to spend money on chest seals and tourniquets if you don’t know how to use them. This doesn’t mean forget about them, it means learn how to use them. If you are like me, you see all these trauma supplies and say, “I need/want this, I need that, I gotta have that too!” Along with having those supplies comes the responsibility to learn how to use them correctly.
First Aid Kits at Home
The first aid kit in your home should contain the bulk of your supplies. This kit should be able to cover a wide range of injuries that could occur. Because the size of your kit isn’t as much of a factor in the home, you should add all the extras you might need.
Extra supplies to practice with.
Less typical items like Steristrips, Mastisol and Xeroform.
Specialty dressings such as Medihoney and Mepilex. [Read More Here]
Tapes & Wraps such as Vet Wrap, Ace Wrap, Hypafix tape etc.
First Aid Kits at Work
Most of us spend 8 hours a day at work, and depending on your job, some accidents are more likely than others. Having a first aid kit at work isn’t for minor injuries, that’s what workman’s comp is for. Your first aid kit would be for larger events like active shooters, terrorist attacks and earthquakes. It should have supplies that could help until the medical professionals arrive.
Most places of employment have basic first aid kits. Because sometimes these get ransacked and never restocked, it might be a good idea to have your own. Check your work’s first aid kit and see how well it’s stocked, and what you might need.
First Aid Kit’s For Your Car
The average American spends around 2 hours per day in their car. Injuries while driving are likely to be more severe than injuries working around the home. As you are thinking about what to add to your car first aid kit, think about likely injuries from a car accident.
You might want more trauma supplies (if you know how and when to use them) in your car kit. Broken bones and severe bleeding are common in car accidents. Having 100 band aids in your car would be unnecessary, but having SAM splints, extra gauze and dressings would be.
There are items you wouldn’t think are first aid supplies, nevertheless are important to have as part of your kits. Note pad and a pencil, road flares, a heavy duty solar blanket, regular blankets for comfort, headlamp, etc. It’s very important to note, NEVER do anything you aren’t ABSOLUTELY positive about. Always wait for the medical professionals when available.
Don’t forget about putting first aid kits in your children’s cars as well. This is something our kids just don’t think about until it’s too late. Unless your child it training to become an EMT, a basic kit will work. If they are training to be a first responder, they probably know what to do anyway.
Too Much is Never Enough
We hear the saying all the time that 2 is 1, and 1 is none. With first aid supplies it should be 10 is 1, and 1 is none. In most trauma situations, you are likely to use far more supplies than you thought.
Most first aid supplies have a very long shelf life, and some can even be used after expiration. The last thing you want is to run out of gauze or dressings when you are trying to stop severe bleeding.
Is There a Place For Pre-made Kits?
Unfortunately, most pre-made first aid kits are a waste of money. They are typically filled with just band aids, gauze and tweezers. For this reason, for the most part, I would say steer clear of pre-made kits. You can put together a much better kit yourself than most of the generic pre-made first aid kits.
A “quality” pre-made first aid kit would be good for putting in your children’s cars, and even a jump start first aid kit. You could take the items out you didn’t want, and add the supplies you need. Some people get these kits and use the supplies to practice with, and use the bag or container to build their own kit.
There are some websites that put together good first aid kits but make sure they use good supplies, and it has what you need in it. Keep in mind, a good kit with 100 items is going to be far more than $25. A 100 item kit for $25 probably has 75 band aids in it.
What to Store Your Kits In
Not all of your first aid kits need to be in bags or containers designed specifically for first aid. I would however make sure they are clearly labeled, or it’s obvious what it is. You want these supplies to be readily available, without having to search through boxes to find what you need. Here are a few ideas that we have used to store first aid supplies in…
My main first aid kit is in a red backpack
Small cardboard boxes for extra supplies (labeled)
Old plastic bins
Old tool box
Sterilite bins with drawers
Old cordless tool cases
And anything else laying around the house you can put stuff in.
The bottom line – don’t scrimp when it comes to your first aid kits. Just like having extra food on hand in the event of an emergency, having extra first aid supplies on hand can literally save lives.