A few years ago I bought an Eco Safety first-aid kit to pack with me when I go off adventuring in the wild for about $25. It's a pretty good pack, but a great majority of it is kind of a waste in my opinion. Well, recently read Lofty Wiseman's SAS Survival Handbook and he offers a pretty simple medical kit that seemed to me to be more relevant to my area than the commercial Eco Smart one. Wiseman says that the items he recommends will cover most ailments.
I decided to head to my local Dollar Tree to see if I could make an affordable first aid kit loosely based on Wiseman's recommendations. I substituted a few items he recommended, but I think what I came up with will take care of just about everything I need if I'm in the back country.
Here's what I found at my local "dollar store":
- Locking plastic container: Obviously this is what I am using to put the rest of my kit items in. I like these "Tupperware" containers because they self-lock and will keep the contents fairly well protected.
- Pain reliever/fever reducer/anti inflammatory: My preferred over the counter pain medication is naproxen sodium which is the active ingredient in Aleve. The reason it is my favorite is that it lasts for 12 hours, so you don't have to take it as frequently. It also is good for reducing fevers and helps with anti inflammation.
- Antihistamine: Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in Benadryl, and if you are like me it will knock you on your ass. Besides the drowsy side effect it is also great at handling allergic reactions to stuff like insect bites, stings and poison ivy and poison oak. Not to mention common allergies like hay fever.
- Anti-diarrhea: I hate to say it, but sometimes you eat or drink the wrong thing in the wild and you have to go with a fury. Diarrhea will dehydrate you like crazy, so it is helpful to be able o plug it up. Loperamide HCI is the active ingredient in Immodium AD.
- Topical Analgesic & Skin Protectant: This goes hand in hand with the oral Benadryl medicine above. Anti-itch cream will help for rashes, and bug bites.
- Antacid: I have had plenty of times when I'm out camping and something I ate gave me heartburn. Having a roll or pack of Tums is super handy.
- Antibiotic ointment: This is basically the same stuff as Neoporin, and it's great for cuts because it keeps them from getting infected. Infection can be a killer if left untreated.
- Assorted "Band-aids": Band-aid is the brand name for adhesive bandages. These are handy for various wounds you might sustain, and are easy to apply. You can use these in conjunction with the antibiotic ointment.
- "Ace" Bandage: These types of sports bandages are handy for sprains and can also be used as wraps for splints when dealing with full on breaks.
- Super Glue: Believe it or not, super glue is very handy for sealing up wounds. It stings like hell, but will stop bleeding and keep a wound sealed often times better than an adhesive bandage.
- Hand Sanatizer: This is going to be handy for washing hands before trying to treat wounds, as well as cleaning out wounds to prevent infection. Not to mention it is a handy accelerant for fire starting.
All of this in the end cost me $10 plus tax (I already had a roll of Tums), which is not bad at all! If I went to the supermarket to buy these things it would be well over that I think! If you add the Tums, it would be $11 and some change.
There were a few items I left out of my kit that Wiseman suggested like surgical blades, butterfly sutures, a condom, anti-malaria pills and antibiotic pills. I felt that if it came to me needing to cut myself or someone else open that it was probably a dire situation, and I could probably use my knife. I felt the butterfly sutures were redundant since I had the assorted "Band-aids". The condom was for water collection, and I always have my canteen out in the wild. I'm also not too worried about malaria in Colorado. Finally antibiotic pills are not available over the counter in the United States.
If you do want to add something like an antibiotic in your kit though, you can get some garlic pills and put them in an Altoids tin for about $8.00 at your local supermarket. Sadly, I didn't see them in the "Dollar Store". Garlic contains allicin which is a natural antibiotic, and you can get that over the counter with no problems. It's important to note that antibiotics only work on bacterial infections and do not work on viruses. Ailments like The Flu or a Cold are caused by viruses, so antibiotics won't work.
Have you made your own first aid kit? What did you put in it and why? Let us know in the comments!