A first-aid kit, as well as the training to use it, is one of the Ten Essentials that’s universally known yet rarely thought about. When you need to reach for yours, though, you’ll be grateful for the time you spent to ensure yours is up to the task.
Even if you pack only a small first-aid kit, you’ll have a great resource for treating minor issues and for preventing them from becoming major ones. Managing aches and pains also makes any trip more enjoyable.
You can buy a premade kit or make your own. This article offers tips on both approaches to getting yourself a first-aid kit for the outdoors.
Remember: Assess kit contents before every season. Regardless of the size of your kit, its medications have expiration dates and its bandages and ointments will get used up.
Premade First-Aid Kits
Most people get premade first-aid kits to save time and money compared to buying individual supplies and assembling a kit. Another reason to choose a premade kit is to ensure you don’t overlook any important supplies or tools.
Which kit should you get? Consider the following:
Group size: Kit-makers usually estimate the number of people a kit will serve. Your results, of course, may vary. Kits for bigger groups simply include more of supplies you use up, like bandages and pain meds. Medical tools like thermometers, tweezers or splints remain fairly constant from kit to kit.
Trip length/distance: Same thing; you’ll usually find an estimated number of days in a kit’s product description.
Trip activity: Kit-makers might, for example, include a fully waterproof pouch that makes a kit suited to paddling. Smaller, lighter kits are appropriate when you’re planning light-and-fast pursuits like trail running. Bigger, more comprehensive kits make sense for activities like car camping.
Comprehensive kits: Even if you don’t know how to use everything, it can be valuable to get a kit with advanced tools and supplies because others in your group or area might have greater medical knowledge. You can also grow into your kit by getting medical training.
Next consider the following additions, regardless of the kit you choose:
Trip risks: Example: If you’re headed where poison ivy and ticks are concerns, consider adding a poison ivy treatment and tick-specific tool to your kit.
Special needs: Example: If you require prescription meds or an EpiPen in town, you should add them to your outdoor first-aid kit. On group trips, survey members so that everyone is aware of special supplies in each person’s kit.
How many kits should you get? Consider the following:
Always pack an individual kit: Even if someone else has a big kit for your group, you still need to be able to treat personal nicks and scratches. And the person carrying the group kit might not always be close at hand.
Consider multiple kits: You don’t use the same pack for dayhiking, backpacking and cycling. The same strategy makes sense for first-aid kits.
Build Your Own First-Aid Kit You'll need a water-resistant bag or pouch to hold everything. You might also need an assortment of zip-lock plastic bags, plastic pill bottles and a waterproof marker and tape to label things. After that, it's a matter of buying or gathering the supplies to fill your kit.
First-Aid Kit Basics
Assorted adhesive bandages
Blister treatments (such as moleskin)
Medication and ointments/lotions
Blunt tip scissors
Razor blade or knife
Splints and elastic wraps
First-Aid Kit Instructions
Always include a quick-reference guide or more comprehensive booklet that explains how to administer first aid. Kit-makers pay close attention to the quality of their guides, so you should do the same.
Trip-Specific First-Aid Supplies
Just as you would with a premade kit, you should supplement your home-assembled kit with extra supplies for a longer trip or special supplies for your destination, activity and group members.
Additional Outdoor Safety Essentials Some essentials are closely related to first-aid: A heat-reflecting blanket (to stave off hypothermia or help treat shock), sunscreen, bug repellent and hand sanitizer might all be carried in or near your kit. If you ever experience a truly life-threatening medical emergency in the backcountry, a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger can be a lifesaver. Signal strengths and operational details differ, but each can convey your need for rescue and your location to emergency responders.
First-Aid Training Even though quality kits come with reference materials, getting first-aid training before your trip is a wise move. A first-aid guide does not convey the true nature of a medical trauma. Training will help you overcome the initial fear and shock of responding to an emergency. Being fully prepared to deal with a serious incident beforehand can make all the difference. Outdoor first-aid courses are taught by many organizations, including REI Outdoor School, which offers wilderness medicine classes in many REI stores. You can also supplement your training by reading wilderness first-aid books.
This article was written by Frank Meyer and Jared Jones for REI Expert Advice.
(Sunday, November 1, 2020)
It's time for Adventure Weekly, Volume 22. Last week, many of you did not receive NAC's Adventure Weekly, Volume 21. I am very sorry for this. There was some Technical Issues with Google Verification, and therefore, many email servers rejected the email. I sent it twice, but it took a while to fix the error. But never fear, all the emails are available via http as well. Click Here to view NAC's Adventure Weekly; Volume 21 In a few hours, we will be heading out to complete the Halloween Haunt Hike. It has gained much attention, and so I may plan more night hikes in the future. With a group of 15, and a special surprise ending, it should be very fun and exciting! There are still 5 events remaining for 2020, including a 9km walk in Niagara Falls to experience the festival of lights. Unfortunately, there was recently some vandalism, causing $300 000 in damage to the lights. Niagara Parks is working tirelessly to make repairs and they should all be ready in time for our walk. Winter hiking sometimes proves to be a challenge when it comes to proper planning, apparel and gear. If you have any questions at all, feel free to contact me. I am always available to offer help and advice. You can contact me in many way, Members all have my phone number, you can email us, use the web site chat system, or Niagara Adventure Club on the Wix App, available on both Android and iOS. That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club