Medical and First Aid Supply Checklist For Disaster Preparedness
Note: This is a guest post from Nick – Any questions about this list can be emailed to Nick@Prepmedic.com.
I often get asked about what should be in a first aid kit and what is in my personal first aid kits. I have yet to find any commercially available general purpose first aid kits that have everything you need in an emergency and stocked with quality medical supplies. This is most likely because to do so would make the kit more expensive than most people would willing to pay directly on the shelf. However, I believe a small financial investment in the health, safety and lives of you and those you love are worth it. Can you put a price on your loved one? I am amazed at how many kits claim to be available to handle emergencies but are not better than a box of bandaids and could never handle a true life-threatening event. I am afraid that many people who think they are prepared because they bought a first aid kit will find out at the wrong time how inadequate it really is. Also, nearly every kit I have seen fails to be comprehensive in scope. They are either focused on being tactical at the expense of medical, ultra lightweight (which means nothing inside for real emergencies) or cheaply built to meet ANSI regulatory compliance (which is very minimal).
First Aid Kits
First aid kits are by definition small and this creates limitations on the type and quantity of medical equipment available. There are many reasons for this. The first and probably most important reason is that it must be small enough to easily fit in a backpack, suitcase, haversack, larger kit or vehicle glove box and not get in the way. Otherwise, no one will bother to bring it and it won’t be there when it is desperately needed. Another reason for limited supplies is that a general purpose first aid kit is designed for the lay person with little or no medical training. There are no advanced life support supplies that would require professional training and certification, and there are no prescription drugs. I would highly recommend against putting advanced medical supplies unless you are a licensed paramedic, physician assistant or physician and are authorized by a physician to use them. However, a well built general purpose first aid kit is very effective kit that can keep a person alive until they can receive professional medical services.
First Aid Kits For Bug Out Bags
I have designed this kit to serve as an indivudal first aid kit while camping, a 72 hour bug out bag, or a ready kit for a home, vehicle, boat, or office. This kit will enable both the lay person or the medical professional to perform initial response to approximately 90+ percent of all forseeable emergencies as well as many minor issues. Only the most severe trauma, medical emergency, or long term use will overwhelm this kit. It will fit easily in a pack side pouch, larger bag, glove box or larger emergency preparedness kit. It is designed for single person use for at least 3 continuous days, but can be used by small groups. That said, it has considerably more supplies that other kits that are rated for four or more people for several weeks. It is my personal opinion of the best balance between the smallest size and weight and being ready in the middle of nowhere. Ideally, on expeditions into austere environments, each person would carry one and then the kits in aggregrate would amount to one large medical kit. It is also small enough to have several of them positioned in each vehicle, each floor of the home, and in the garage/workshed. If this kit cannot stabilize the problem, call 911 or get paramedics immediately.
First Aid Kit Space Constraints
This kit was designed to be small so splints and larger items are left out intentionally to save space. Splinting material is almost always easy to find. When splinting material is not availble, splint the injured extremity to body. I have included optional items if you want to make a larger or deluxe first aid kit. However, I believe that 4 small kits that are readily accessible are far better than one large kit sitting at home or in the car back at the camp parking lot where you cant use it. If a person is in an austere environment and ends up using up all the medications and is still sick, its time to get that person to civilization. Since this is a small first aid kit, it is important to restock any item used immediately. Consider using zipper tag to confirm that it is fully stocked. Inventory and update as necessary every 6 months.
First Aid Kits And Medical Training
Most importantly, this kit works best if you have the medical training to use it properly and effectively. I highly recommend every person take an 48 hour Emergency Medical Responder course or at least a first aid course at the bare minimum. Take the time to save a life. Someone may have to save yours someday and you will hope they have training when its needed. The information provided is no substitute for professional medical advice by a licensed physician.
Lastly, this kit, like all my kits, are a work in progress. I am always improving and updating them. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions, or good ideas, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always like to hear how the kits work for others.
Good Luck and be safe.
Nick – Prep Medic
|Where to get|
|Case – Adventure Medical Products Sportsman Series White tail model||1||hold supplies||It should have pockets to hold everything in place. approximate size of 7″ x 5″x2.5″ for best travel size . Ideally it is made of ballistic nylon that can be cleaned. Ideally a first aid kit should be green to be ISO compliant (the standard for the rest of the world) but thats hard to find in the US. It should also hold everything in place when open. I currently use the Adventure Medical Products Sportsmen model though I would prefer it be green and better labeled on the outside. I am always looking for the perfect bag. Not really happy with any of them.||Academy, Cabelas, Sportsman Wharehouse|
|Waterproof pouch – Osprey – 3L (optional)||1||Keep first aid kit dry||I like the Osprey 3L bag in orange for visibility and rapid identification. It is also shaped for the kit. You can also get in grey. Consider labeling for easier identification.||Cabelas|
|Gloves (pair) – heavy duty – non latex – with antiseptic wipe||2||BSI||I use the black Venom brand. One size fits all. Very strong gloves. I vacumm seal them with one antiseptic wipe to save space and to clean hands afterwords. This way I don’t have to carry a bulky alcohol gel bottle.||Lowes|
|Nasal pharyngeal airway – 28 fr||1||Airway management, prevent tongue obstruction of airway||The unsung hero of the military IFAK. 28 fr is what military issues in IFAK to every soldier. Essentially one size fits all for NPA insertion. Insert fully in nose of person who is unconscious or altered mental status. If they don’t need it, they will pull it out. If they dont, they need it. Make sure to coat in KY first. Measure from nose to earlobe for smaller people, trim in diagonal cut same as bevel if way too big||Amazon|
|Lubricant – water soluble (KY) packet||1||Lubricate NPA||Need for NPA. I tape mine to the NPA. Some companies shrink wrap the two together but I find that is usually too bulky||Amazon|
|MEDICATIONS||Use solid tabs only, others will melt, burst or leak. Individual packs are preferred and necessary to be ANSI compliant. They have the added benefit of dosage and warnings on the packet. However, sometimes they are hard to find or take up space. Use plastic bag pill pouches from drug store as alternative when individual packs are not available or practical. Be sure to label packet with dose, expiration and important information. Be careful not to take more than the maximum daily dosage listed by the manufacturer.|
|Ibuprofen 200 mg (IBU)||24||Analgesic, NSAID, Fever Reducer||Use 400 mg (2 tabs) for minor aches or fever. 600-800 mg(3-4) for stronger pain.||REI, Amazon|
|Aspirin 325 mg (ASA)||2||Analgesic, NSAID,||325 mg (1 tab) for cardiac/chest pain/ heart attack symptoms. 750 mg (2 tabs) for pain. Use primarily for patients complaining of chest pain. Statistically shown to reduce mortality in heart attack/MI. Can be used when Ibuprofen runs out or if allergic.||REI, Amazon|
|Immodium AD 2 mg||12||Antidiarrehal||Two tabs initially followed by one tab per additional loose stool until max is reached. Use for diarreha. Use per directions. This can be a lifesaver in the field. You will need them all. Do not take less with you.||REI, Amazon|
|Benadryl 25 mg||4||Antihistamine, Sleep aid||2 tabs for acute allergic reaction/anaphylaxis. 1-2 tabs for allergies or sleep. Use for mild-severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic reaction as long as the patient can swallow. Consider taking more if allergies are an issue with you or group members.||REI, Amazon|
|Gelusil/Alamag||12||Antacid/Antigas||2-4 tabs as needed. Gelusil and alamag are the same thing. Make sure any antacid tablet you have also has simethicone to treat for gas. I’ve only found Alamag in individual packs||REI, Amazon|
|Hydrocortisone 1% indivudal paks||3||Anti-itch||Use for poison ivy, insect bites that itch||REI, Amazon|
|Insect sting relief indivudal swabs||3||Painful stings||Pain relief from bite. Great for kids.||REI, Amazon|
|Oral Glucose (15 g)||1||Hypoglycemia||Very important and never in first aid kits. Must have even for non diabetics as physical activity can cause hypoglycemia in non diabetics. Also good source of quick energy. I get the LevelLife ones as they pack flatter and are easier to open. Use gel over tabs as you can put inside cheek if necessary. Do not put in unresponsive patient – choking hazard.||CVS|
|Acetominphen(APAP)||12||Analgesic, NSAID, Fever Reducer||Can be used if allergic to IBU, with IBU for added pain relief, or when IBU runs out. Preferred by T-CCC for patients with trauma and significant bleeding as it does not affect clotting process like NSAIDS (IBU and ASA). Be careful not to overdose as it will kill the liver quickly. Take more acetominphen if using instead of IBU.||REI, Amazon|
|Benzaloknium Chloride antiseptic towellette||3||wound cleaning and debridement||I recommended that you open one in advance and make sure it opens to the approximately the size of a 10″ by 10″ towel. Many are much smaller and distengrate on contact.||REI, Amazon|
|Bandaids (regular)||5||minor cuts and scrapes||get waterproof ones||Any drug store|
|Bandaids (knuckle)||3||minor cuts and scrapes||get waterproof ones. Works better than regular bandaids for knuclkes and odd locations||Any drug store|
|Bandaids (4″ x 1 3/4″ approx)||3||minor cuts and scrapes||get waterproof ones||Any drug store|
|Bandaids (3″ x 4″)||2||larger cuts/boils/abcesses||get waterproof ones||Any drug store|
|Moleskin (3″ x 4″ sheets)||2||blisters and raw skin protection||Essential!! Either regular or extra thick. Get the full size pads listed. You can cut to shape. The cheap stuff in first aid kits is thinner. Get full sheets instead of pre cut blister caps.||Any place that sells Dr. Scholls stuff|
|Alcohol prep pad (large)||3||wound cleaning and disinfecting. Drying skin for adhesive bandage application||Try to get the large ones if possible though they are hard to find outside hospital circles. Big difference. Most drug stores do not carry the larger size.||Amazon|
|Gauze pad – 12 ply 2″ x 2″||3||wound cleaning and debridement, bandage||Make sure it is 12 ply. First aid kits come with cheaper 4 ply ones||Any drugstore|
|Gauze pad – 12 ply 3″ x 3″||3||wound cleaning and debridement, bandage, bleeding control||Just as effective as 4 x 4 size but fits better in pack. Make sure its 12 ply. First aid kits come with 4 ply ones. Can be used with cravat or ACE wrap for pressure bandage/bleeding control.||Any drugstore|
|Wound Closure strips (butterfly) bandaids||10||holding minor lacerations closed||get waterproof ones. Good to have until you can get stitches. I don’t recommend super glue.||Any drugstore|
|Triple antibiotic ointment||5||minor cuts and scratches||Important in woods to avoid infection. Some wildernes medical texts prefer bactrim only due to allergies to the other antibiotics, but this is very rare in my opinion.||REI Amazon|
|Medical tape – 1″ roll||1||various uses. Splinting, skin protection, etc.||Some people use duct tape but I find the medical tape sticks better to skin. You can use a 2″ roll but I find the 1 inch works better in actual application If I take a 2″ roll, I remove enough of the roll so it is the same diameter as the ace bandage and they can sit together.||Any drugstore|
|Elastic (Ace) bandage 3 or 4″||1||sprains/strains, skin protection, splinting, improvised pressure bandage||3″ fits best in pack. Get the ones with the velcro closure as the hooks are junk. Make sure to get true ACE wrap, (Stretchy, non self clinging) not Coban. Tactical Med Products makes an awesome wrap with velcro every 4-5 inches to prevent it unrolling on accident.||Any drugstore|
|Triangle bandage||1||cravats, splinting, sling and swath, tourniquet, bleeding control, use in place of rolled gauze||get military grade if possible well worth the cost and sealed for waterproof. The military ones also make great hankercheifs. Cheaper ones or the tyvek ones cannot be used for bandaging like the military ones. Can be washed and resused if critical. I use this for my tourniquet. Just use shears for windlass and string 1 inch roll in tourniquet. After twisting with shears, put end of shears in tape to hold in place. Saves a lot of space over commercial tourniquet.||Surplus store, US Cavalry,Brigade Quartermasters|
|OLAES Bandage – 4 inch.||1||major bleeding/wounds, occlusive bandage, wound packing, rigid eye patch, splinting/swath||Amazing trauma bandage with numerous uses. Watch the manufacturer videos on youtube. Get the one that is packaged flat.||Surplus store, US Cavalry,Brigade Quartermasters|
|Compressed rolled gauze – 4.5″ x 4.1 yds 6 ply||1||bandaging, packing wounds, pressure dressing,||Get the military vaccumed sealed one from H and H. Good stuff and saves space. Essential for packing large wounds.||Amazon|
|Hemostatic Gauze – z folded – 3 ” x 48″||1||severe bleeding||Great to put on top of active bleeds or into big holes. T-CCC approved. I prefer the Quik Clot Z pack as it can be packed into a wound where a sponge can’t. The z packing lets it lay flat and is easier to pack a wound over rolled gauze.||Amazon|
|Chest seal – vented||2||occlusive dressing for penetrating neck or chest wounds||Critical for penetrating chest injuries. Vented chest seals have been proven to reduce the occurrence/reoccurence of tension pneumothorax over traditional occlusive bandages. I like the Hyfin entry/exit wound twin pack.||Amazon|
|Shock and Hypothermia|
|Emergency blanket (52″ x 84″)||1||shock,hypothermia, emergency shelter||Hypothermia is a killer that is often overlooked. I use military emergency blankets because one side is olive drab when hiding is important. I put them in food saver bag and vacuum air out to have it pack flat. I find military vacuum the best, civilian ones can be substituted but get the ones that are folded flat not rolled, then vacuum sealed.||Surplus store, US Cavalry,Brigade Quartermasters|
|Trauma shears (smaller or regular)||1||bandaging,cutting clothes, improvised tourniquet||Use with triangle bandage and tape roll to make tourniquet. I use smaller size onefrom Adventure Medical Products. Work great and fit better in pack||Cabellas, Adventure Medical Products|
|Small permanent Marker||1||marking tourniquet time and writing||Any tourniquet needs patient marked on forehead with TK and military time (TK:2040) and date. Especially important in austere environments where rescue is delayed. Use 1 or 2 inch tape. Write on skin if no tape available.||Lowes|
|Small pencil||1||write down important information||Can be sharpened and wont run out of ink. Easier to pack and lighter. Works better on paper.||Anywhere|
|Patient report sheet||1||write down important information||Tear some sheets out of a waterproof notebook or use the one that came with the Adventure Medical Products medical pack.||REI, Cabellas|
|Needle – splinter out||3||splinter removal||Pre sterilized needles that are easy to hold in the hand designed just for splinters||Amazon|
|Tweezers||1||splinter removal||Get ones for specifically for splinters. I like the ones that come in the flat red case||Amazon CVS|
|Safety pins||4||improvise slings, improvised needle, hold bandages together||Multiple uses||Amazon|
|DentalMedic Kit – Adventure Medical Kits||1||dental emergencies||This kit is nice and has everything already sealed in a little pack. Most people forget about dental issues, yet broken or bad teeth and toothaches are a common problem. If creating from scratch the kit contains the following: tea bag (1), Dental wax temporary filling mixture (1) cotton pellets (5), temporary cavity filling mixture (1) cotton rolls (5) dental floss (1) tooth picks (3). A youtube video by the manafacurer is available.||Cabellas|
|5×9 ab pad||bandaging||general bandage – Omit if weight/space is an issue. Keep if first aid must be ANSI compliant. The 4 x 6 military bandages are much better and will handle all 5 x 9 uses||Any drugstore|
|Burn Cream||minor burns||I don’t use it and never is carried on ambulance. Only keep in bag if first aid kit must be ANSI compliant or if you really want it.||Amazon|
|LED Headlamp/Flashlight||I use the one in my pack but if packing as a stand alone pack this will be invaluable. I prefer the headlamp because it provides hands free direct lighting (think old Norman Rockwell doctor paintings), but any LED flashlight will work||REI, Sportsman Wharehouse|
|BVM||CPR, Respiratory arrest, Respiratory failure||Too large for a personal carry first aid kit but great for larger ones. Get one that fits in a plastic can or are vaccummed sealed for space savings. Requires training before use.||Chinook Medical. North American Rescue|
|SAM Splint||C-Collar, Splinting, Wind shelter for stove||Get the ones that is folded flat. If rolled, fold flat. Great to have but can improvise splints to save weight. I use MILSPEC ones that are olive drab or grey. They can also be used as wind shields for camp stoves and a variety of other uses medical and non medical.||REI|
|CPR Face Shield||Rescue Breathing/CPR||The plastic sheet ones are smaller but too flimsy for me. I don’t carry one in 72 hour pack because reality is if CPR is being done in austere environment, the patient will not survive long enough to get to definitive care. Also, hands only CPR is proven as effective as CPR with rescue breathing for first 8 minutes due to passive insuflation. Now standard for lay person CPR classes. Can be useful for first aid kits where EMS is close or ASHI compliance is needed.||Galls|
|CPR Pocket Mask||Rescue Breathing/CPR||Same as CPR face shield. Too large for personal first aid kit.||Amazon, Galls|
|CAT Tourniquet||Severe bleeding control||Very effective but takes up a lot of space. I would take only if you have a legitimate tactical need, high risk for a big extremity injury, or are making a bigger kit. If you have a tactical need, consider an IFAK on your belt or vest. Buy from legimate vendors. Counterfeits have been on Amazon and have broken on paramedics in the field. NAR is good brand. or make sure windlass is metal.||North American Rescue|
|Eye wash||Flushihg eyes or debreding wounds||Tap water is used in ER’s so it is not critical. In the field I use my camelbak for this. One of many reasons I prefer a Camelbak bladder. For larger packs it is a consideration if space permits.||Amazon|
Also with larger packs you can carry more of each item.