First aid kits are like pizza (or donuts)! We all like pizza, but we may not agree on the crust, the toppings or how it is cooked but we all agree that we like pizza. We all agree that we need a first aid kit of some sort but we may have differing ideas of what we should have. You may want to carry the defibrillators, but I’m going to take my chances and leave them at the doctor’s office. I carry one kit when I’m out with friends on climbs and a completely different one when out backpacking with my kids.
What’s in my First Aid Kit in order of probable use:
Band-Aids: Not just any bandage, but ones with a character or glitter. When your child gets the slightest thorn prick and follows it with a death curdling scream…..Mickey Mouse wrapped around a finger can heal a wound faster than any triple antibiotic and hugs combined. I pack 8 of these miracle workers.
Liquid Bandage: When Mickey Mouse is no longer cool, the wound is usually more concerning. I have found sealing a good cut factors in to the success of the rest of your time outdoors. I started out with gauze and medical tape, but those seem to become reminders of the painful wound and become pulled off or get too dirty.
Benadryl: Having an antihistamine with you can save the day. My son is very attracted to anything willing to sting him. He was stung at least three times over the summer on trails. He is not allergic, thankfully, but the sting can be really uncomfortable. I keep a half dozen in my kit and it usually last a year.
After-bite: I’m not even sure if this stuff works but after each kid gets bit or stung by something, I squeeze a little cream on the point of attack and it seems to really work miracles. Aloe Vera is one of the main ingredients so it probably does decrease the pain.
Pain relievers: Anti-inflammatories/head ache relievers…..the most used up item in the Kit. Those knees need some extra love because you are carrying your entire family’s gear for three days. I base my count on who will generally need them/what their usual dosage is times how many days are we going to be backpacking.
Tweezers: I debated on whether this should be higher up on the list. Tweezers are a life saver or sanity saver….afterall, kids + woods=splinters.
Burn Cream: Kids will find a way to need this….usually the camp fire or the stove. I carry two in my kit, just in case 1 packet isn’t enough or you just need another packet for the same wound the next day.
Triple Antibiotic: Kids will be kids and at least we can attempt to prevent further infection. I carry 2 in my kit, but find myself often replenishing.
Hydrocortisone: Kids will explore and rub up on everything. I carry 2 in my Kit.
Gauze Pads: Little ones may unfortunately need blood leaking managed. We have also used them as sterile wipes to clean a wound. I carry 4 in my Kit.
Stretch Bandage 2″ X 4 yards: It is light weight and could prove to be useful given the right misadventure. I carry 1 in my Kit.
Antiseptic Towelette packets: These are useful in keeping the wound clean as you are dressing it. I keep 2 in my Kit.
Elastic Wrap: I have never had to wrap my own child’s ankle or needed to stabilize bones in place, but when the time comes, I’ll be ready. I keep 1 in my kit.
Moleskin: Another miracle worker….at least for me. I have been on some longer outings where one of the kids needed moleskin, but I too need it on the more demanding routes.
Multitool: I use the scissors part of the multitool to cut any of the necessary bandages instead of packing the medical scissors my kit originally came with….just cutting weight.
Safety Pins: I keep these around for practical uses when administering first aid.
Duct Tape: It fixes everything. I have even used it to cover my son’s feet when his boots were no longer waterproof and taped up a cut when we ran out of bandaid and didn’t have liquid bandage.
There are many other products you can add to your first aid kit based on your family’s uniqueness, how concerned you are, and how much weight you are willing to carry. At one point, diaper rash cream was part of my Kit when the kids were still in diapers. I found REI’s First Aid Checklist really thorough if you need more ideas.
One last piece of advice…..First Aid Kit storage. Remember, Mickey Mouse and Spider Man will save the day, so keep the first aid kit easily accessible. Most people keep it at the top of their packs. I, personally, find putting it in the lid of one of my child’s backpack (or in his/her pack) to be the most efficient. With the first aid kit in their pack, you can easily access it without having to pull your pack off if you don’t have to.