Having an emergency or accident that demands fast attention – whether it is at home, during a trip across the country, or even just camping or hiking – can leave you in a difficult position, sometimes even threatening your life.
But you can get rid of lots of danger and worries if you have the right items to attend it – like an emergency first-aid kit.
It could be a bruise in your arm, a bite from an insect or big animal, a sprain or fracture, or even just a little cut – whatever it is, you’ll need to have a well-prepared emergency first-aid kit to tackle the situation accordingly.
So, here we are going to teach you what items are essential when something like this or worse arrives. Come and learn more about the different first-aid items you should have!
17 Emergency First Aid Items For Survival, Campaign And Hiking
Antiseptics are the best way to treat fresh wounds, from cuts to slight bleeding bruises – disinfectants will clean them up.
The next thing to antiseptics that you can use to clean opened skin is a pressurized stream, but that’s very unlikely to have in difficult situations when you are in the wilderness, for example.
So antiseptics should always be the first or second item to have to your emergency first-aid kit.
Some antiseptics even come with pain-relieving properties. You can clean a wound, and the product will manage to relief some of the pain or itch, at least just a little.
Whatever you get, though, just make sure it is an antiseptic or disinfectant strong enough to keep your wound free of infections & unwanted particles.
These are some of the most useful antiseptics you can find;
- Peroxide and Permanganate
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Antiseptic Wipes
- PVP Iodine Ampules
Normal gauze or gauze pads will be critical in emergency situations. You can use them to stop bleeding in wounds, or just to cover already healing wound to protect them. Gauze can be used alongside antiseptic or antibiotic ointments & liquids to clean and protect an injury.
Many people also know them as band-aids or adhesive bandages. They keep blisters and cuts free from infections and help them suture faster.
You can find them in different sizes and shapes so they can work correctly depending on the part of the body and size/shape of the wound the bandage is going to be used on.
Most band-aids are simple – a long semi-rectangular shape. Others may come in the form of a square, and some may even be circular.
We recommend getting as many different shapes as possible, this way you can use the ideal one depending on your needs. Apart from shape & size, we also recommend going for convenient options, especially those with antibacterial benefits and waterproof adhesive if possible.
Even though you can call them medical bandages as well, butterfly sutures have a different purpose than ordinary bandages. They help wound to heal quicker, using their butterfly-shaped design to close wounds more effectively.
These sutures have adhesive strips in their sides, which stick to the skin and can pull the edges of a wound to hold them together.
You can do this by applying butterfly sutures in the middle of a wound and applying the strips to the skin just like any other bandage. But you’ll have to pull the sides of the injury together so you can hold them there so it can heal better.
How To Use Butterfly Sutures
Now you may be thinking, is a butterfly or a medical bandage enough to protect a wound?
Well, they are not. You will need something sturdy and reliable, something like medical tape. This type of item will help you attach the bandage or suture more effectively to the wound. You just need to wrap enough duct tape around the wound (in dry skin) and the bandage or stitching, and that’s it.
Alongside medical tape, an elastic bandage can help you wrap injuries and keep them safe, relieve swelling, work as tourniquets or even just hold gauze or medical packs in place.
These elastic bandages are utterly useful in emergencies, especially the ones with metal clasps or with Velcro, as they are easy to place and adjust when needed.
So you have a deep and large cut that you can’t hold together with a medical bandage or even butterfly sutures. Then you’ll need to suture the wound using needles and suture string. Here you have two options to pick, cutting needles or non-cutting needles.
Cutting needles come with triangular edges that cross each other; they help to cut wounds further while suturing them in the process. But you may also find conventional cutting and reverse cutting needles.
They work better with challenging tissues, where you need to put only a little force to cut through for more precision and less tissue damage.
Non-cutting needles, on the other hand, are often rounded in the edges. They demand a little more force to push through tissue and work in the less important or less difficult parts of the body. These are the most common as well, and the most useful for skin wounds.
It is recommended to have both types of suturing needles in the first-aid kit. However, if you need to pick only one, go for non-cutting needles. They are better and easier to use, and will probably cost a lot less.
Sutures and Stitches
Along with the right kind of suturing needles, you’ll need the suture or stitching, this is the string-like item that helps you keep the wounds together. Here, you’ll find absorbable and non-absorbable types.
Absorbable sutures are the ones used in deep wounds. These are better for those wounds where you won’t need to remove the stitching eventually. They lose tension after several months and are absorbed by the body.
These are the types of absorbable suture to go for;
- Polylactic or Vycryl
- Poliglecaprone or Monocryl
- Polydioxanone or PDS
Non-absorbable suture, in contrast, is mostly used in the surface of the skin. They won’t be absorbed by the body, so they’ll need to be removed once the skin is closed, or once the suture loses its tension.
You’ll find non-absorbable suture with these materials;
- Polypropylene or Prolene
- Polyester or Ethibond
We recommend having both types of sutures in your first-aid kit. You don’t know where you’ll need something to stitch together a deep cut or worse.
You need something to cut the gauze and the medical tape, something that will also be useful to cut clothes if needed. This means you need a good pair of scissors. We recommend stainless steel scissors, as they are the most helpful for this type of situation.
The curved and small suturing scissors also work wonders if you want something better. But sewing or craft scissors will do the job just as well.
Tweezers are probably the most overlooked yet very helpful item that you need to have in your first-aid kit. With a pair of these, you can get rid of splinters in wounds, take insect stingers out of the skin, remove pieces of dirt or even small stones in your injuries, and much more.
The most useful kind of tweezers is the ones made with surgical steel. They will offer the most reliable and safe operation.
But for tweezers, you’ll find several kinds to choose from. Some offer a needle-nose design, others are a little thicker in the point, while others may be incredibly thin and small for the most precision possible. But of course, we only recommend medical-grade tweezers for your first-aid kit, yet many others will also work well.
While wounds and cuts will need gauze, antiseptics, medical tweezers and scissors, elastic bandages, and so on – other injuries may be relieved with the use of cold or hot packs. Especially when it comes to injuries to muscles or parts of the face and head, using a cold pack can relieve inflammation and pain exponentially.
Even insect stings and bites will ease up the itching or the pain. The only problem is that these packs will need to be refrigerated or put into hot water most of the time. If you don’t like to do this, you can instead go for instant cold packs.
You’ll only need to break the substance inside that turns the pack cold, and that’s it. We recommend carrying at least two or three in your first-aid kit if possible.
You can also find them as disposable gloves, they are the ideal choice for treating wounds, cuts, and other injuries where the hands will be in direct contact with open skin, bone or just blood.
This way, you can keep germs, bacteria, and microbes away from the injury and prevent causing an infection. Both the patient and the user will benefit from using one of these.
Disposable gloves also help to clean things afterward. If you are responsible for cleaning, you won’t like blood or any other body liquid to be in contact with your hands, so a pair of gloves like these will help.
The best option for us is neoprene gloves, as they are not allergic and provide the safest & most reliable construction as you won’t like the gloves to rip when using.
Sting and Bite Medication
While this is not essential most of the time, if you are on a trip in a place where poisonous animals or insects appear, it will be wise to have the right medication to battle them if needed. This type of drugs can also be useful at home, as you don’t know when a dangerous animal can make a visit.
This medication to battle stings or bites goes from hydrocortisone to calamine and more. You may also use Epi-Pen as an anti-allergic to prevent further damage after a sting or bite. Make sure you also have specific medication depending on the types of animals in the area (house or trip).
If a family member, a friend or even you suffer from allergies – you’ll want to have the right medication at hand in case of an emergency. Whether it is an allergic answer to food, or something related to skin or organs, allergies can be life-threatening, so having the right treatment in your first-aid kit is always hugely recommended.
There are different types of anti-allergic medications out there though, so you’ll have to know which one to go for depending on the occasion.
The two most common types are these;
Also known as Benadryl or even Diphenhydramine HCl, it works well for a wide array of allergies. This one can also be found in creams, and while it is not useful in life-threatening scenarios, it can help people with minor allergies to prevent it from escalating further.
This is also known as EpiPen. This medication is the one that can save lives, especially when it comes to stopping anaphylaxis reactions to foods or animal stings/bites. They work by reducing swelling and other effects, so you can gain time or sometimes even get rid of the allergic reaction completely.
We recommend having both antihistamine and EpiPen if possible. This way, you can use each depending on your or other people’s needs.
Antibiotics help to prevent infections in wounds, they also help to cure infected parts, and even cure or prevent a wide array of diseases. But there are many types of antibiotics, such as topical antibiotics for skin use, and broad-spectrum oral antibiotics that work in the body to prevent or cure internal infections.
Topical antibiotics, for example, may come as an ointment or cream. They are applied directly to wounds or over the infected part of the body. You may cover this part eventually with gauze or bandage.
This way, you can stop the growth of bacteria or get rid of them altogether. The different types of topical antibiotics are;
- Triple Antibiotic (the previous three in a single ointment)
We recommend having at least two of these, or a triple antimicrobial if you want an even better choice.
Then you can find oral antibiotics. They are also known as broad-spectrum antibiotics due to the way they work, as some of them may work for the digestive system, others for the skin, some for the breathing system, and so on.
The only problem is that these antibiotics commonly need a prescription, but finding one shouldn’t be much of a problem. These are the most common types:
They all work in different ways, so we recommend having at least one blister of each one just in case.
Drugs & Medications
In an emergency situation, having something that manages pain, relieves inflammation, that helps to prevent unnecessary damage to your body, or that eventually enables you to sleep or just feel better can be vital.
That’s why having drugs and another kind of medications in your first-aid kit is one of the first things you need to consider.
There are many types of drugs and medications you can consider, especially the ones you take consistently, such as antacids or pain relievers. We recommend the following ones:
- Cold & Cough Medications
- Medications for Critical Organs (that don’t need refrigeration)
- Pain Relievers (acetaminophen & ibuprofen)
- Anti-diarrhea Medication
- Aloe Vera Gel
There are also many others to consider, yet it will be enough with at least half of these.
You may have all the previous options, but sometimes something to light up is just as essential. Especially in emergencies in the night or where there’s not much light, you won’t do a thing when it comes to treating a wound or infection if you don’t have enough clarity.
There’s when having a flashlight will be critical, so make sure to have one (small preferably) in your emergency first-aid kit just in case.
Conclusion – Check your Kit and Keep it Ready!
Already know what can be critical in an emergency situation? Well, now it’s time to make sure that everything you need stays useful & ready to use when needed.
For this, we recommend doing periodic checks on your first-aid kit every three or six months. Make sure all the medication (especially antibiotics & medications) are still within their useful ages. Remember most of these medications have expiration dates, and you won’t like using them when they already pass their due.
Also, it’s essential to keep the first-aid kit in a fresh and easy-to-access place. Don’t hide the equipment in an attic at home.
Instead, you can store it in a closet or a bathroom. For road trips, you can save it in the trunk of the car without problems. And for hikes & camping expeditions, we recommend having them in the closest bag or backpack if possible.
Some of these items can be life-saving, so don’t overlook any as you don’t know when you will need them. Start making your emergency first-aid kit now, and be prepared at all times!