One of the key aspects of preparing for a survival situation is making sure that you have the knowledge, tools, and equipment to be able to face any potential scenario. And while most people focus on guns, food, water, clothing, backpacks, bug out bags, etc., the area that gets relatively little thought is first aid. But in a survival situation even small injuries can set you back a great deal.
First aid equipment can generally be placed into two categories: first aid gear and trauma gear. First aid gear, such as things you would find in an individual first aid kit (IFAK) can also sometimes be referred to as a boo-boo kit. You’ll basically want to cover basic medications, scrapes, cuts, and bruises, and mild sprains. Trauma gear covers things like puncture and gunshot wounds, major bleeding, and other serious injuries. That will be the topic of a later article.
Right now we’ll take a look at some of the basic first aid articles that you’ll want to carry on your person, in your car, or attached to a belt or vest. For an IFAK you don’t need a huge amount of gear, as even a few band-aids, gauze pads, and pills can quickly fill up a small utility pouch. If you’re putting together a kit for a family, you may want to consider a handbag-sized pouch or bag to fit your gear.
Band-aids are obviously the number one thing to carry in a boo-boo kit. They provide a cheap and easy means to cover cuts and scrapes, and are available in a number of sizes to fit many different types of wounds.
2. Antibiotic Ointment
Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin, bacitracin, etc. can be added to band-aid pads to help keep cuts and scrapes from getting infected.
3. Gauze and Non-Stick Pads
Gauze pads, gauze rolls, and non-stick pads can all be used to help clean out wounds, absorb blood, or administer ointment to wounds larger than those that can be covered by a band-aid.
4. Athletic or Bandage Tape
If you need to use gauze pads or non-stick pads you’ll need to find some way to keep them on. Athletic or bandage tape can be used to help them stay on your wound.
5. Hand Sanitizer
A small bottle of hand sanitizer can be very helpful in disinfecting your hands before and after treating wounds, particularly if you don’t have access to soap and water to wash your hands.
6. Alcohol Prep Pads
Alcohol prep pads can be used to help clean and disinfect wounds and scrapes.
7. Nitrile Gloves
If you’re working on a particularly bloody wound, or just want to make sure that you don’t infect it with dirty hands, nitrile gloves (not latex) can come in handy. They can also be helpful in disposing of bloody bandages or other soiled material.
If you get a splinter, bee sting, or something else sticking into your skin, a set of tweezers can help remove them.
9. Face Masks
Face masks can help reduce the risk of communicable diseases, particularly during flu season. They can also come in handy if you’re in an area that’s dusty or prone to sandstorms and flying debris.
You should always have a range of painkillers on hand, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen.
Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in the developing world, mostly due to drinking contaminated water. If you drink contaminated water in a survival situation, taking anti-diarrheal medication could be the difference between life and death.
Both allergy medication and anti-itch creams can come in useful if you are prone to hay fever or traveling to an area where you expect mosquitoes or other bugs to bite.
While this may seem like a lot of stuff to carry, for an IFAK you really only need a few of each of these items. Most of these are readily available at your nearby dollar store, where you can outfit a boo-boo kit for about $10.