When it comes to having a well-stocked first aid kit, I want to be prepared. I truly do. Having spent weeks at a time on a boat in the remote waters of British Columbia, I have always understood that a drugstore and medical doctor may not be accessible. If sick or wounded, I would be on my own.
So why then, were my first aid supplies in such a disorderly mess?
In hindsight, I believe that in spite of having good intentions, it was a lot easier to keep purchasing supplies then to organize them. It was easy to get something on Amazon then toss it in a drawer or into the large “first aid” bin I keep in the garage. The problem with this method is that I never really had a good handle on what I had and what I really would need in an emergency. I simply kept buying and tossing, buying and tossing. Sound familiar?
I recently decided to do something about it. As I sorted everything out on the floor of my great room, it became apparent that my first aid supplies needed to be broken up into separate kits: routine first aid, trauma, sick room, pandemic, and the all important portable kit that I could grab in the event of a disaster or carry with me on a road trip. It was an epiphany!
Kit #1: A Portable Kit with the Just the Basics
The first kit I put together is a portable kit with just the basics. Before starting, I laid down a few requirements.
1. The portable first aid kit had to include the items that I felt were most likely to be needed during bouts of routine illness and day to day injuries.
2. The kit needed to do double duty as my in-home basic first aid kit as well as a transportable kit that I could use on road trips or during an evacuation.
3. The kit, in total, could weigh no more than 10 pounds.
This was not as easy as I thought it would be given that the weight and space requirement would require some tough choices, not the least of which, was the container itself. My choice? An ammo can!
The “Ammo Can First Aid Kit” was born!
A Portable First Aid Kit in an Ammo Can
After much trial and error, here are the items I settled upon and included in my ammo can first aid kit.
Bandages and Wound Control:
Bandages in a large variety of types and sizes, including waterproof
Stretch Wrap Bandages aka “Vet Wrap”
Sterile Gauze Pads and Sponges in a variety of sizes
New-Skin Liquid Bandage
Israeli Battle Dressing
Quikclot Clotting Sponge
Tincture of Benzoin Compound, to hold bandages in place
Remedies and Medications:
OTC pain killers, including Tylenol, Aleve, Motrin and plain old aspirin
Cipro, an emergency antibiotic prescribed by my physician
Antiseptics & Sanitizers:
Betadine Solution, to disinfect cuts, scrape and wounds
91% Isopropyl Alcohol
Hand Sanitizer Foam
First Aid Manual
Bandana (See How to Use a Bandana to Save the Day)
100% Cotton Towel
No Rinse Bath Wipes
Small hank of Paracord
Bag for waste
Holding it all:
Nine pounds, four ounces
Other First Aid Items: What is Missing?
As I mentioned, I did have to make some decisions in order to maintain portability and stay within my 10 pound weight restriction.
Suture kit, yes or no? I chose no because in many cases, leaving a wound open will promote healing. You can read more about that in this article: How to Deal With Open Wounds When Help is Not on the Way.
I also left out splints, instant hot/cold compresses, and items more suited to the sick room such as N95 masks, goggles, and coveralls. Also missing are a number of ointments and creams you may find useful but given my penchant for essential oils, I left them out and chose to use natural remedies instead.
The Final Word
It has taken me three months to put this kit together. I would add things, remove them, then put them back again. One night, while rummaging around in the dark, I realized I needed a flashlight so in it went. Another time, I was dealing with a bloody scrape on my leg and had no where to dispose of the soiled gauze. In went a bag for waste.
And so it will go with your own kit.
Although I have included a lot of reference links, the kit you build should be your own. Personalize it, then make sure you can lift it easily and move it around. Start to use it day to day and before you know it, you too will have the perfect portable first aid kit.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!