Saturday, January 22, 2011

Building an Outdoor First Aid Kit

Jules and I have always had the decided consensus that we will not breed fear into our child. He can go play where we can't see him, within reason. He can climb large objects, with a bit of climbing knowledge. He can stay home by himself if we are only gone for a bit, as long as he has a cell phone and doesn't open the door. He can play near the water without a life jacket, as long as he can tread water. He personally owns his own axe, BB gun, tent, and Spyderco all of which he can use himself quite proficiently.

He is going to scrape himself up, has cut his body a few times, has been pulled out of a pool by an adult with all their clothes on, and has already achieved a handful of concussions. But he also has a really great sense of his own limitations and the confidence to try things which most kids would be concerned over. One of the better developments is his caution about panicking when he realizes something isn't working out well; he merely asks for help and begins talking himself down. This has meant a few bizarre situations: Getting wedged 3+ feet off the ground between the our fence and the neighbor's fence, jumping on a bed till dizzy enough to gash his head open, getting his pants caught at roof level on the wrought iron fretwork out front, slapping himself in face with a spatula so hard there was a major mark for days, hanging from a tree feet from the ground by only his shirt, running full force into a cabinet door hard enough to slice his head open. He is definitely my son. I was an emergency room kid.

Luckily, we have only had to go to the emergency room once and it was an incredibly extreme situation with a very, very young Barracuda. When your child cries blood, you go to get pediatric facial stitches!

Our ability to hand most medical situations is due to a very hardcore first aid kit at the house and an all purpose outdoor first aide kit whenever we venture into the forest. We use the same outdoor first aid kit whether we are going to cut firewood or just day hiking. With the track record of our son, it seems highly irresponsible to do any less.

Regular first aide kits seem to lack items for serious bleeding, stitches, burns, infections, and adequate medication. They are all just far too generic. They have to be. How can the designers of the kit have any idea about your personal needs? Jules calls them "Boo-Boo kits," because all they really fix are the small "boo boos." So, we built our own designed to our specific needs.

Jules is in charge of this area of our lives. I take care of outdoor food; he takes care of outdoor safety. If you are interested in building a first aid kit for a specific personal situation, check out Nut 'n' Fancy's YouTube feed (search Level 1 first aid kit, and if you're really digging it his entire Level 2 series). Be warned, this dude is HARDCORE and really, really knows his stuff. He will tell you more than you ever wanted to know, but should know if you are compiling something which could save your life.

Click on Image to Enlarge
After 3 different colors, green seemed to show the best. This is designated as a Level 1 kit. We have one outdoor kit, one in each of our cars, and a level 2 kit at the house.

Our first aid kit is laid out in a triage fashion. Items are bagged by the escalation of the injury. Each of these lists is in its own bag. In this way, you don't have to go crazy, dump everything out, and then try and figure out a way to put it all back.

The bags are resealable clear mylar. They are military grade communications pouches which are waterproof and exceptionally durable. You can purchase them on Ebay. The smaller inner bags are just little dime baggies.

Minor Issues
Medication:
10 dosages of Advil - Jules thinks Advil cures everything. It does work to kill swelling and any kind of pain.
8 dosages 800 milligram Tylenol - These are the serious pain meds that don't actively conflict with much other meds if they are necessary.

8 doses Midol - This is the best over counter muscle relaxant there is. My athletic trainers used to hand it out without telling the guys what it was. It's mild enough to not cause you to sleep, but eases muscle cramping.

6 doses Imodium - Dude, food poisoning sucks when you really need to walk a good 10 miles.

6 doses Sudafed - Sudafed kicks the snot out of cold symptoms.

6 doses Mucinex - Mucinex is amazing at clearing up your head and lungs from crud.

4 doses Clariton - There have been two or three times that unexpected allergies have knocked Jules and I down. These will take the edge off enough that you can hopefully get out of the situation.
You may notice there are not childrens medication. This is due to The Barracuda being allergic to a filler placed in most over the counter kids meds. Taking OTC meds induces vomiting, hives, and skyrocketing fever. He would rather suffer, than take something and suffer more. We focus on herbal medicine at home.

Band-Aids:
6 butterfly - These work best on fairly severe cuts around curves (ears, nose, fingers, feet)

6 small - These are for those annoying issues which aren't going to do you any actual damage, but more cause you to hate your life because they just hurt. They are also sized just right for small people.

6 medium - As far as bandages go, these are the go to. Minor cuts and scrapes on hands, fingers and feet.

4 extra large - These must be purchased separately than the multi-pack box. They are big enough you could pad the wound with a 2 inch gauze pad to cover a fairly deep wound.

10 feet of Duct Tape - This is wrapped around itself and folded up all compact. Duct Tape is great when you notice rubbing on your feet or some other area. It is sticky enough to not come off and can be used to prevent future injury. Plus, it's Duct Tape - what can't it do?

1 Strip Moleskin - Used for developed blisters to remove pressure.

3 2nd Skin Patches - Burst and open blisters or burns.
I have highly, highly sensitive skin. I break out in a rash from Windex. Jules fertilized the yard and two days later when The Barracuda and I were playing in it I broke out in hives which lasted 4 days. I just plain don't go near chemicals. We believe natural products are better, but honestly, I can't really use much else. Jules could survive walking through nuclear winter style radiation. If you know of products which work for you, go for it. Even expensive "hypoallergenic" stuff causes me problems.

Miscellaneous Creams and Oils:
Neosporin - Standard low-grade infection prevention and healing. Be sure to wrap it in electrical tape due to heat and cool causing it to burst. If you wrap it up this can prevent explosion all over the other stuff. Not really the end of the world, but gross.

100% Tea Tree Oil - 1 half ounce vial. This is hardcore infection prevention and killer where only a little goes a long way. Its anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-septic, anti-everything. It is also a natural thing which won't harm the wound, cause me to break out, be too harsh for our child, and can be used externally everywhere. It has personally killed a staph infection on myself which Jules was on 3 rounds of meds and in and out of the doctors office for.

Vitamin E Lotion - Jason 25,000 I.U's of Vitamin E Age Renewal Moisturizing Cream. This is wonder gunk. I don't even know how it works, but any skin issue it takes care of amazingly fast. Rashes, irritation, chap, blisters, swelling, hives, peeling skin, bites, sore feet or muscles, etc. Once the heat has been removed from a burn it takes care of it brilliantly. It also doesn't go bad and is safe to use on my highly sensitive skin and The Barracuda.

6 Alcohol Swabs - Basic alcohol swabs for quick cleaning and sterilizing tools for use.
Sprains and Stitches
10 feet 3M Porous Medical Tape - In our house, this is called stitches tape. By cutting small sections and pinching a fairly serious cut shut, it can seal it. Think butterfly bandages on steroids. The Barracuda has had me use stitches tape on him at least 3 times. It has prevented many a trip to the hospital and I am highly impressed with its effectiveness. It won't close a sucking chest wound, but man it's good. It can also be used to hold on gauze in an area where the skin needs to breathe. We keep it wrapped around a slice of an old credit card.

5 feet First Aid Athletic Tape - Standard white waterproof tape used to splint sprains or support broken fingers or toes. This is also wrapped around a slice of an old credit card.

Swiss Army Knife - Just a small one to cut the tape as needed.
Severe Injury
3 Tefla Prebandage - This goes onto the wound before gauze in order to prevent ripping the wound back open with removal. The prebandage stays in places and allows the wound to breathe.
3 Giant Adhesive Bandage - These are 4x6 and designed to cover the gauze and contain moderate bleeding. Basically a giant Band-Aid.

3 4x4 Sterile Gauze Pads - Standard gauze for moderate bleeding. Before applying gauze read up on basic aid training as more damage can be done to a wound if used incorrectly. All good intentions can actually wind up hurting someone instead.

3 5x9 Surgipads - These are serious bleeder situations. They are designed to contain major blood loss. If you are using these, the goal is to physically remove someone as fast as possible or they are going to die.

Suture Kit - This is used in self rescue types of situations to close a gaping wound. Something has definitely gone wrong. This is another one of those situations that if you are pulling it out you've gone through every other option and someone is not going to make it. Don't carry this if you don't know how to use it. It's another situation you can do way more harm than good if used incorrectly.


I honestly thought Jules was a bit over reactionary when he put the first IFAK bag in my car. Three or four uses patching our son back together and I'm now sold. We need to add some burn gel and some Derma glue, but all in all it works pretty well. Like anything, it is still evolving as we go. Every kit should be personalized, this is just our take.


The entire kit weighs 8 ounces which makes it doable to carry around for just about anything outdoors that we need.

4 thoughts:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the very thorough description of your kits. I'll be using your minor issues as a starting point for my own kit.

You write: Our ability to hand most medical situations is due to a very hardcore first aid kit - but that's only partially true.

Your ability to handle medical situations is not only due to your stuff but your ability and willingness to learn and apply your learning.

Things alone will not pull us out of bad situations.

WAIF said...

The layout and description is exellent

knowledge and training are both a good start But Experience comes with Practise & Use

Many Never have to find out IF they can cope in an Emergancy situation,
since I took my First first aid course in 1982, I have had to Deal with Several live & Death Situations (1 involving CPR to A child)

Moonwaves said...

Have I mentioned yet how much I am loving your blog? You've even found a (really good) use for old bits of credit card. Fantastic.

I really need to find a decent first-aid course to do. I've done a couple in work (the last one about three years ago) but they are completely geared towards the idea that an ambulance will have arrived within 10-15 minutes. Now that I live in Germany, where they are very, very practical about things, I might be able to find something more useful.

all purpose first aid kit said...

These are some of favorite First-Aid remedies that together provide a comprehensive herbal kit for home care and travel. Many of the remedies you can make yourself, of if you'd rather not make your own.

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