What should be in a first aid kit depends upon the level of a person's training and the contingency being prepared for. Camping? Isolation during a storm"? Nuclear disaster?
The first thing to think about is obtaining first aid training. A basic EMT course is best, however, the Red Cross has a very basic first aid course that is inadeuate, but better than nothing.
The most important thing to know is how to clear a person's airway and maintain a patent airway. That drill is far more important than what you might have in a first aid kit.
Let's take aprains, form example. The most common kind of problem you might come across when there is no medical care available.
The most important first aid action to take is to wrap the sprained area in an "ACE" elastic bandage (not too tightly) BEFORE it swells. And to soak the ankle in cold water - immediately. And to take an anti-inflamatory such as ibuprufin or aspirin.
Walking is one of the most important survival factors - and an ankle that is swollen can prevent movement or walking to safety. A sprained ankle, immediately wrapped and (preferably chilled) whill usually heal much more quickly. The trick is to wrap it BEFORE the swelling..
Thus, my recommendation is fror every first aid kit to contain inexpensive elastic bandage plus an over-the- counter anti-inflammatory.
Sterile water is another concern. Boiling is one option. Use of a tiny bit of Chlorine bleach is another. This problem is addressed in another post. But water purification tablets would be another big plus to have on hand,
A simple bar or soap is another handy item. Keeping the hands clean and washing up or cleaning a minor wound to prevent infection is important. In addition, if you attempt to dress another persons wound it is helpfulo for you to wash your hands thoroughly. In a disaster there may not be soap available for this.
A small battery operated flashlight is important, to inspect wounds and injuries at night. A penlight is fine. Or a "fireman's" throw away flashlight.
A paramedic bandage scissors is a "must" addition to a first aid kit. One of the problems confronting someone who is assisting in a disaster is removing clothing, boots and jackets without causing further injury. A scissor stronhg enough to cut a penny in half but with a blunt edge that cannot harm. Clothing must always be cut off in the event of a suspect spinal injury, for example.
A scissor is needed that can cut through cloth to make a dressing or make a torniquit.
An image of a paramedic bandage scissor is posted elsewhere in this forum.
Another "must" for a first aid kit is a means to remove splinters. Or a shard of glass.
(1) A good high quality tweezer. Cheap ones won't grasp a tiny splinter.
(2) A small magnifying glass.
(3) A bandaid.
(4) A topical over-the-counter antibiotic (bacitracin or neosporin).
(5) A surgical blade, an exacto-blade (available at hobby stores)or knife, or in a pinch a razor blade. Razor blades are usually sterile if kept in their original package. Pocket knives are rarely sharp enough to do the job.
After removing the splinter, wash with soap and water, then apply antibiotic and a bandaid.
A sharp blade is rarely necessary, but sometimes a splinter goes in deep and if you leave it there you won't be able to walk out of a wilderness area. A single slice will usually expose the splinter enough to be removed.
If you are in an area where there is fishing you need a fish-hook removing capability.
A small jewelers needle nosed pliars and a pair of nippers are helpful. The barb will not permit the hook to be withdrawn, so you push it through and nip off the barb. The usually situation is when a child fly fishes under poor supervision or kids with their fishing poles over their shoulder and a flying hook on a line behind their bicycle.
A good first aid kit always has material to deal with a minor eye injury.
The most common of such injuries, especially in a disaster involve simple dust or dirt in the eye. Clearly any injury involving a corneal abrasion or penetration required transportation to a specialist immediately.
Your "eye treatment kit" should include the following.
(1) a small mirror. Since we are talking survival, I prefer a small signaling mirror. In the home you might have a bathroom mirror, but a first aid kit muct travel and you may need to look at your own eye.
(2) Solution to flush the eye with. Sterile isotonic buffered eye solution is best, sold over-the-counter at drug stores. DO NOT USE DROPS CONTAINING TETRAHYDROZALINE HYDROCHLORIDE to flush the eye!
(3) If not buffered eye solution a small bottle of sterile saline, sold at drug stores, is appropriate. If that is not available, bottled water or tap water can be used.
(4) A glass (not plastic) eye cup.
(5) A packet of "Q" tips.
The drill while flushing is to first wash your hands. Lie down and use about a tablespoon of flush. Hold your head to one side. It helps for someone else to wash out your eye. After flushing wait five minutes. Usually two flushes will do the job.
An eye cup can also be used, preferably with flushing solution, but ordinary tap water can generally be used. Hold your head back and open your eye while it is underwater. Two or three good flushes will usually do the job.
If the eye is splashed with a corrosive or chemical solution it must be flushed IMMEDIATELY with tepid water. Don't wait a second. Tap water is fine. Use LOTS of water. Flush and flush and flush. Then flush some more. Seek professional attention as soon as possible. If your first aid kit is in a camper or car keep a bottle of saline or ordinary bottled water in the kit. Time lost means sight lost.
Another way to remove a speck is to have someone use two fingers to invert the lid. Two "Q" tips are useful for this. One to push the lid up and another moistened with sterile saline (or saliva, which is bactricidal) to touch the dirt.
Sometimes pulling the upper lid over the lower lid will do the job.
In an emergency you can simply hold your hair back and submerge your face in a large bowl of water and open your eye underwater completely.
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