The Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” relates to outdoors men and women having the necessary gear at hand to meet an emergency should one happen. A simple first-aid kit containing the proper items will help in attending to most first-aid requirements when outdoors.
There are many commercial first aid kits available for a modest price. Some kits offer a wide variety of supplies for minor emergencies afield. There may be some items users will want to add to fit a specific outing.
“First aid kits can be customized to fit the situation,” said Glenn Wheeler, a licensed EMT and outdoor enthusiast. “Specific items can be added to off-the-shelf kits that go beyond the basic essentials.”
1. Gloves: A few pairs of latex-free medical gloves are always an essential item. The gloves help protect you and the patient in a medical situation. Emergency gloves prevent contact with cuts and blood. They can be quickly removed and discarded for easy clean-up.
Also, the gloves may come in handy if having to work on a greasy engine or field dressing game. Most kits usually contain at least a pair, but it is a good idea to throw in a few extras.
2. Methods to summon help: In today’s world cell phones are common and have service even in some remote areas. Before heading out make certain the battery is fully charged and the phone is operational. Program the phone with emergency numbers for police, forest rangers, conservation officers and a nearby hospital.
Two-way radios can be used between groups or even some emergency agencies. The Coast Guard and some marinas monitor the emergency marine channel. One issue with radios is the range is limited by terrain.
3. Fire starters: Matches may seem out of the ordinary for a first-aid kit, but remember this is an outdoor kit. Use a waterproof match holder or plastic zip close bag to store the matches and keep moisture out. There are also fire starter kits that can be used in the place of matches.
A fire can serve many purposes during an emergency. An injured patient can be kept warm near a fire to help reduce the stress on their body. After dark, the light from the fire can guide rescuers to your position.
4. Paper and pen: Two other items usually not found in a first-aid kit are a pen and paper. These are used to write down important information about the patient’s injuries. It is a good idea to make notes about the injured person as to any allergies, medical history or other factors related to the injuries.
“Make notes as to what you have done to the patient,” Wheeler said. “Give this information to the paramedics when they arrive to save time.”
If you have contacted a hospital write down the instructions they give you relating to needed first aid for the victim. This will also help the EMT’s know what treatment has been given.
5. Antiseptic: Hand sanitizer and/or antiseptic wipes is an important item for any first aid kid. The hand sanitizer can be used to clean up your hands before and after dealing with an injured person. The antiseptic wipes can be used to clean minor wounds and scratches on the victim. Both of these items are available in small containers or in single use packets.
6. Basic medications: Simple over-the-counter medications can be used to help relieve pain, fever, swelling and itching. These are not prescription medications but some simple drugs to help the injured person. Individual packets of aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen can help with fever and pain.
Also, some diphenhydramine (Benadryl) will help relieve itching or an allergic reaction. If a person has a severe allergy, they many want to visit their doctor for en Epi-pen just in case. Some OTC allergy or sinus medication could also be needed for minor symptoms when outdoors.
Antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin is handy for cuts, scrapes and blisters.
7. Adhesive bandages: No first-aid kit would be complete without some Band-Aids. The simple, yet effective self-adhesive bandages are quick and easy to apply. Cuts, burns, insect bites, blisters and other minor contusions can be covered with the strips. Pack in several sizes from small strips to larger pads.
Gauze pads and rolls can also fall into this category. The pads can be used to clean wounds and placed over cuts to help stop any bleeding. Rolls of gauze can be wrapped around larger wounds or used to immobilize broken bones.
8. Tape: Usually a small roll of medical tape is included in most commercial first aid kits. However, there may be times when a stronger tape is required. A few feet of duct tape can be unrolled and rolled back onto itself. This takes up little room in the kit and can have many uses in an emergency.
The duct tape can cover bandages to keep them waterproof. The tape can be torn into strips for holding splints in place or as a splint for fingers.
9. Medical shears: These are specialized scissors also known as EMT shears. They can cut through just about any material. The scissors may be required to cut away any clothing to expose an injury. Also, the shears are used to cut gauze pads, tape, rope or small limbs to make a splint.
10. Plastic zip close bags: Small sized zip close plastic bags have an unlimited uses in first aid. They keep the gauze and dressing fresh, dry and clean. The bags can be filled with clean water and a corner cut to irrigate wounds.
Also, the bags can be labeled for quick identification of items in the first aid kit.
Wheeler also suggests reading through a first aid guide before trekking off into the outdoors. Each person should familiarize themselves with some basic first aid knowledge and know what is in your kit.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com.