First-Aid kit contents

6:42 p.m. on June 27, 2007 (EDT)
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What are some first aid products that you add to your store bought first-aid kit to add to comfort and preparedness?

11:15 p.m. on June 27, 2007 (EDT)
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Well, it depends on what your first-aid kit comes with and where you're going, for how long, your preparedness personality, and so on... I'll have to look inside mine (both a day hiking/light backpacking one and a larger family backpacking one) to refresh my memory, but here are a few thoughts:

I've added (and removed) a space blanket and back-up Potable Aqua to our backpacking one. For various reasons they went in, but both have since come out. I already have a space blanket and now a very light McNett Frontier Emergency Water Filter System in my day hiking survival kit, and if I'm backpacking, those issues are already covered by a sleeping bag and some sort of water purifier/filter, so I didn't think I needed them again.

I added (and kept) a couple of the really good blister band-aids and larger wound sealing ones that stay on for a few days. I figure if I really need a bandage I want one that works very well, not a million different small ones (although I kept a few of those in various shapes).

Obviously include any prescription medicines.

(Warning: do not try the following illegal activity at home): After Dave had hand surgery five years ago he had extra pain killers he never used, which we put in the kit for a while, figuring they'd be a potential help in a real emergency. They eventually got thrown away after never being used.

If you have kids, make sure you have a children's fever reducer and if backpacking diaper rash creme, teething gel, or any other kid-specific stuff you'd want (depending on hiking vs. backpacking).

Also, if you're a woman, or frequently travel with one, you may want to include an extra feminine hygiene product to handle any surprises.

I'll have to look inside ours again and jog my memory some more. I know I added a few other items. I also try to periodically review the contents, since things get old or used up and needs change.

I think there's a fine line between trying to cover the basic essentials to keep you and your companions safe and reasonably comfortable, and not getting weighed down trying to prepare for every contingency.

2:52 a.m. on June 28, 2007 (EDT)
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I take little or no first aid kit. This is a calculated risk, based on nearly forty years' experience, in which I've encountered no need for such materials.

8:47 a.m. on June 28, 2007 (EDT)
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I always carry six extra triangular bandages, due to my occupational training, the foam splints and Morphine Sulphate Instant Release tabs, usually 100 in my base camp pack and a dozen in my day kit. I carry Lomotil for intestinal problems, again a prescription medication and both Asthma and Reflux meds, although I haven't needed them in years.

You do not need this type of kit in many places and I also pack several extra large heel bandaids, but, here in BC where I go into very remote areas, often alone, these are very nice to have. I was on a Coast Guard Lightstation once when a blood clot plus severe infection alomst cost me my right leg, I was not helivaced for two weeks and the pain was excruciating, so, I carry serious meds.

Having supervised crews in deep bush, 70 miles from the nearest medical assistance and where the access was very difficult, I always keep adequate first-aid supplies with me and refresh my training with pro-level courses every so often. I have dealt with enough incidents to know how easily people can be injured in wilderness conditions.

6:17 p.m. on June 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Listen to the Practical Backpacking podcast #9 to learn one expert's opinion on the contents of a first aid kit limited to 5 items.

http://www.practicalbackpacking.com/audio/pbpodcast/PBP-9_Shana-Tarter_Wilderness-Medicine.mp3

A first aid kit does not include presciption medications you or your companions are currently taking.

What items you carry and how much of each depends on your knowledge and experience level, where you're going, how long you'll be gone, the number in your party, and the reasonable anticipated risks associated therewith.

9:34 p.m. on June 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Most major analgesics such as Morphine, Meperidine and major Codeine compounds ARE by prescription only here in Canada. So, one includes them in a first-aid kit as being stranded for long periods due to weather is fairly common and, having had both of my legs fractured, at different times, plus extensive surgery involving bones completely bisected surgically as well as the incident I mention above, I can tell you that YOU WILL want them, if injured.

The link will not work for me, but, after 51 years of hiking and 43 years of BP camping in some pretty remote places, I carry a serious first-aid and emergency kit AND I have used it to stop major bleeding when I was injured in the bush as well as dealing with dehydration, etc.

9:53 p.m. on June 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Colin Fletscher suggested, with some reason, that among the best items is a prescription-strength pain killer. CF traveled exclusively solo and didn't normally use an ultralight packing method. I imagine his first-aid kit was fairly extensive.

The worst encountered by myself was rather minor knee injury 15 miles from roadhead, that required two painful days' march while taking over-the-counter pills.

More dire contingencies like heart-attack etc., may have no practical treatment in the wilds, although some med-heds go whole hog and take various intravenous solutions and equipment where quick evacuations are impossible. I enjoyed reading, for example, of Teddy Roosevelt's near-death experience on South American canoe trip, due to several medical conditions including anal fistulas, and the much more recent "Medicine For Mountaineering," which has vast supply of theory including diagram on digital removal of impacted feces, apparently a common malady of the critically ill.

But out of sight, out of mind, according to my philosphy, where in remote parts of North America, I've relied on potential evacuation through communications with radio, or cell phone if possible. The alternative is bring the IV Or be willing to pay the piper if need be.

I know there are many approaches to this subject and various considerations, some of which are ethical in nature, but most of which are moot on trips in well-traveled areas.

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10:31 p.m. on June 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Flagyl tablets in 500 mg ( the knowledge of when to use them is important!!) - Cipro & Azithromycin - ditto on knowing when & how to take them.

Some form of anti-diarrhea medication - Imodioum or some such.
Don't over rely on AD's as they can cause severe problems if you get blocked up.

Advil, Tylenol, anti-allergy like claritin, benyadryl (for bee sting reactions, severe mosquito bites), thermotabs (for hyper hydration), morning after pills & condoms ( just in case :)

Moleskin, large bandage compress, Ace Bandage, Knee support, curved needle , forceps, nylon thread, iodine, smallish band aides, eye compress.

Not everyone on the hike needs one, but solo or large groups should adjust accordingly.

11:43 p.m. on June 28, 2007 (EDT)
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In my only course in first-aid, a very short 20-hour program that included mock rescue, I learned Dixie Cups are good to preserve eyeballs after they pop out of your head. You use the cup as a cover and tape the whole mess to the face. We saw an interesting photograph that mostly proved this is true. I have never carried Dixie cups however, and don't really expect or want to use this technique.

7:55 a.m. on June 29, 2007 (EDT)
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I keep an air splint (inflatable splint) - medium sized (for arms or kids legs), waterless hand cleaner, some moist towlettes (I save 'em from resturaunts) and some sterile saline solution (irrigating deep wounds, cleaning eyes) along with a syringe that a dentist gave me years ago (which I'd used with the saline to irrigate said deep wounds).
Then the normal stuff for intestinal distress (both kinds), OTC pain killers, space blankets and lots of other stuff mentioned before.
One thing I carry in my cook bag rather than my first aid kit is baking powder - make it into a paste and it really makes bee stings feel better.
I'd add to my basic list depending on where I was headed - were I headed to very cold regions I'd add some chemical heat packs - for example.

2:57 a.m. on July 1, 2007 (EDT)
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I take along what I will use for myself. If somebody else lets me work on them, I'll use whatever they brought. Mine fits in a small plastic case with a few strong rubber bands around it. Contents will take care of most foot blisters, minor burns, a splinter or two, maybe a mashed finger between rocks, and a poke in the eye by a sharp stick and hi altitude minor problems.

Band aids, 3M Compress (for blisters), new (every trip)duct tape around my treks, enough ibuprofen for two times max dose for 1/2 the length of the trip (treat swelling), fresh unopened superglue (to hold cut edges together), 3" blade sharp knife, Vicodent (for me), anti diarrhea pills, needles and thread (to fix buttons), tweezers, three large safety pins (for e.g., to nail tongue to lip to open air passage), bactericide cream/grease, small Preparation H tube (mosquito bites); smallish roll of adhesive tape; a few small alcohol pads/rubs; Diamox for two people (I use it for Cheyne-Stokes)

I left the gloves behind. I figure it is a small risk and if there is that much blood, they probably would not appreciate me taking the time to put them on. All kinds of stuff on me and pack for the heavy lifting things like splint, tourniquet, immobilization, pressure bandages, etc. I figure that competent medical help a few days away can clean out what I didn't and give a couple of shots in the butt for things that ail them.

oh, yeah. I read that little book put out by Red Cross on first night out -- always.

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