What are your must-have first aid kit items?

Discussion in 'Hiking, Camping, and the Great Outdoors' started by Monique, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Monique

    Monique bounceswoosh Skier

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    I just finished my first Wilderness First Aid course - 16 hours. We learned how to do an initial assessment, check vitals, and report them if necessary. I obviously need to work on this a lot to retain it.

    My first aid kit has alway been minimal. I've carried a lot more for bikes than I ever have for humans. A few bandaids and not much else, really. But now I've been exposed to all sorts of scenarios where more gear would be useful. On the other hand, I can't carry everything that might potentially be useful. I have to find a balance point.

    What are your must-have items? Any particular brand or model? How do you change your first aid kit if you'll be more remote? How do you define remote? Do you pack differently for different activities - hiking, biking, horseback ...?

    One thing that was super useful in the course, but I haven't found outside of the NOLS store, is a triangular sling/cravat : https://store.nols.edu/collections/first-aid-supplies/products/cravat-triangle-bandage

    I was also envious of people who had a Crazy Creek to kneel on during evaluation - not to mention that it can be used as a pretty sweet splint - but I can't imagine carrying that around while, say, mountain biking - https://www.rei.com/product/812634/crazy-creek-the-original-chair

    I was happy to see some of my favorite products being used - Tegaderm and Second Skin - but then realized I never carry any of that stuff with me. Doh.
     
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  2. DanoT

    DanoT RVer-Skier Skier

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    I think most people who have first aid kits just buy a ready made kit from Costco, Walmart, auto parts place.

    This is imo a very good starting point and then add your own specialized contents. I have added butterfly closures (good for when stitches are needed and there will be a delay or long trip to the doctor), sterile non stick pads and recently I bought a vacuum sealed coagulation bandage. I don't know anything about the product but it sounds like it might be useful.

    Triangular bandages and their versatility have already been mentioned, so I will mention stretchy Elastoplast crepe roller bandages are very useful for treating twisted ankles and knees. 4" or 6" wide are best. Don't use the useless metal fasteners, instead secure the wrap with strips of adhesive tape.
     
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  3. Michael R.

    Michael R. skiNEwhere Skier

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    Does duct tape count?
     
  4. luliski

    luliski Out on the slopes Skier

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    I keep forgetting to pack my first aid kit for mountain biking. I take it hiking, but not on road rides. It has gauze, tape, band-aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, tweezers, and I'm not sure what else. I thought it might be nice to have some water purification tablets. When I hiked at Yosemite in May, I ran into a number of people who were in over their heads on the trail and didn't have enough water with them. Some people were getting ready to drink water directly from a stream. Sometimes I carry a filter pump when hiking, but I didn't have it that day. Nor did I have extra water for these people.
     
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  5. CalG

    CalG Out on the slopes Skier

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    wipes! and dand-aids

    Soapy water or alcohol, I don't care. Most "little things" need cleaning up.

    After that, the shirt on your back works for most every needed..
     


  6. Bad Bob

    Bad Bob old n' slow Skier

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    Duct tape, parachute cord, space blanket, compresses, a small first aid kit, and a whistle.

    Sometimes there are even trade goods.
     
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  7. Dwight

    Dwight Practitioner of skiing, solid and liquid Admin Moderator

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  8. crgildart

    crgildart Gravity Slave Skier

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    Moleskin comes in handy on a lot of longer scout hikes, especially if it rains. Snake bite kit and epi pen are in my bag even though I am not highly allergic to anything. Mom left some epi pens behind when we moved her to nursing care and thought maybe having one, even an old one, could do some good in a real emergency out on the trail.
     
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  9. Tico

    Tico Putting on skis Skier

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    Coban, Percocet and Valium. Or in the Alps, a cellphone and a cigarette.
     
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  10. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    I bought one of the little waterproof pre-made first aid kits you can get at outdoor retailers. Good starter pack with a smart assortment.

    The thing I use frequently enough I've had to replace:
    - Vitamin I
    - Duct tape (yes, included in the kit)
    - Latex gloves
    - Alcohol wipes.
    - Butterfly closures.

    I also throw in a small vial of Liquid bandage which is basically superglue for cuts.

    YMMV, but if you work at an office...sometimes they have well stocked first aid kits. And they'll never notice a few pieces missing ;).
     
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  11. Varmintmist

    Varmintmist Bear, with furnture. Skier

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    Tampon and a pad. They are individually wrapped, sterile and are made to absorb blood. A bad puncture wound or fairly sizable cut can be covered fast.
    Super glue. You can repair a smallish cut with it and get it in the tiny three one time use squeeze bottles.
    Tape. If not medical tape, then teflon electrical tape.
    Moleskin can save the day.
    T shirts are good, if they are clean. If not, then cover the wound and make a compression bandage from one. Only had to do that once, to a horse.
     
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  12. SkiNurse

    SkiNurse Spontaneous Christy Pugski Ski Tester

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    Duct tape: YES!!! Superglue is also great. I do have sutures in one of my first aid kits, but believe me when I say, that you really would rather me use duct tape and/or superglue instead. :eek:

    I have a couple of different kits (one in my car, one for hiking and still another for traveling) all different sizes with different basic items. The reason why I quoted the above posts as to show that you don't need fancy and to spend a lot of money. Basic household items work until you can actually get professional medical help. Even with my experience, there is only so much I can do without proper clinical equipment. The one advice I do have, if you carry medications in your first aid kit, periodically check the expiration dates and replace as needed. The other item that goes "bad" are latex gloves.
     
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  13. Thread Starter
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    Monique

    Monique bounceswoosh Skier

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    Do you mean Coban / vet wrap?

    Hmm. I would consider that a general purpose item that's good to have, but it wouldn't be my first choice to have stuck to my skin.

    I'm trying to build a kit that can handle more than the occasional scrape. In my personal experience, if it can be handled with a bandaid, 98% of the time you don't even need the bandaid. The shirt can do a bit, but maybe not everything. You can use the shirt as a sling ...

    We talked about this a bit in the class. Epi pens are prescription, but we did talk about the possibility of using your epi pen on someone else. Of course, then you don't have it if you need it. One instructor said that if you are considering using an expired epi pen, it's because the person is likely to die, anyway - so it's worth the try.

    But some cautions - apparently, it is common to have a second, worse reaction at some point after the first epi pen is administered. Prescriptions apparently contain two pens for this reason. Also, a CNA in our class pointed out that some people are actually allergic to epi pens! This was not in our curriculum, but apparently if you're very allergic to sulfites, you can have a reaction.

    Nevertheless, it sounds like there's some plan in place to allow you to get a "good samaritan" prescription for an epi pen to rescue other people.

    Yes - I used a panty liner to patch up a friend recently :) Kept the wound clean till we got to the ER. Panty liners don't absorb much blood, but they take almost no space to pack and keep a large area covered. I used larger bandaids to stick them.

    I was wondering if they were truly sterile, but apparently! : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2539027/

    You wouldn't ... like ... shove a tampon in a puncture wound if it were big enough, would you? I'd think it could trap bacteria ....
     
  14. Thread Starter
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    Monique

    Monique bounceswoosh Skier

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  15. Michael R.

    Michael R. skiNEwhere Skier

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    How in depth was the course? Did you guys go over applying a tourniquet?

    I seriously hope that's something you never need to do.....but if you did it could cost you valuable minutes making a hasty one if you have to tear up some cloth and find something to use for leverage.

    The pre made ones are relatively cheap and small.
     
  16. Thread Starter
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    Monique

    Monique bounceswoosh Skier

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    Actually, we did go over a tourniquet - and that if you apply it, you never take it off. You're saving someone's life, maybe not their limb. But we did not discuss improvising - or rather, we specifically discussed that the course no longer covers how to improvise. Too many people were using narrow materials, like shoe strings, that damaged tissues. Now, I wonder if that matters if you're really talking about life threatening blood loss ... but maybe people were jumping to tourniquets too quickly after trying direct pressure and pressure dressings?

    Our instructor said he'd never needed a tourniquet in the backcountry - but that if he were working in a logging camp, he surely would have one.

    Weirdly, this may be the same situation as a firearm for me. I am not confident I'd be willing to use a gun, so I don't carry one. Similarly, I'm not sure I could ever make the decision to risk someone's limb ... even my own!
     
  17. tromano

    tromano Goin' the way they're pointed... Skier

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    I always try to remember the rule if 3s for back country first aid. Thus, sunscreen, a spare hat, a lighter, knife and emergency shelter should be top items followed by water purification tabs. If anyone in your party needs medicine bring extra. I would rank Benadryl and vitamin I up there too. I think superglue or duct tape and para cord would be helpful as well. Maybe a clean bandana. Also a PLB/Spot device. Spare batteries for gps. You want stuff that will keep you alive and keep you going and help rescuers find you.
     
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  18. Thread Starter
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    Monique

    Monique bounceswoosh Skier

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    Man, every time someone lists Vitamin I, I get anxious! I only wish I could take it. And it's over the counter, so a well-meaning person could try to "help" me by giving it to me if I were not fully mentally recovered. I'm not sure it would have immediate negative effects, but the long term effect would likely be worse than the original malady.

    FWIW, I just bought a Garmin InReach + the plan, and have practiced using it to text/email, set up contacts, etc. It appears to also have the full functions of a GPS device. But while that is fantastic for an "oh, shit!" scenario, I see myself more commonly using it to let my husband know that I'm running late so that he doesn't worry. And it doesn't stop bleeding or provide clean water.

    I tend to bring a lot of extra clothes. I figure that in many cases, the challenge is staying warm overnight when you hadn't planned to be staying overnight.

    How far from the trailhead or rescue services do you plan to be when you decide to pack the emergency shelter? I can't imagine bringing that if I were only an hour or two from the trailhead.
     
  19. SSSdave

    SSSdave life is short precious ...don't waste it Skier

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    About the only medical stuff in my vehicle for ski days is duct tape since resorts have first aid supplies and otherwise one can drive to stores. Out on some remote dirt road or in the wilderness is a whole different matter. For decades as a landscape and nature photography enthusiast have considerably summer hiked and backpacked. A good wrap of duct tape is always around one of my tripod legs. First aid kits have the usual stuff though I usually don't carry a kit while day hiking away from my vehicle or camp site. The one most important item for a creative person is a good length of some construction grade duct tape including Gorilla Tape. A creative person can do an amazing amount of things with duct tape beyond just first aid. For instance some tissue paper atop duct tape is a bandage.
     
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  20. Varmintmist

    Varmintmist Bear, with furnture. Skier

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    If the hole is that large, then the bacteria can be dealt with later. If its bleeding that bad, then the blood will clean a lot of it out. If its bad enough to consider using one, then a bandaid aint going to cut it.
    Stop the bleeding
    start the breathing
    protect the wound
    treat for shock
     
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