Is Your First-Aid Kit Complete?
Every camper and RVer should carry a first-aid kit, because Mother Nature is not always nurturing or maternal. But which kit is right for you?
If you buy an off-the-shelf medical kit, you might assume that, because it was professionally prepared, it must be perfect. And for the most part, they can be. But you should know exactly what is in the kit, and know what should be in the kit. If needed, you can then adjust whatever first-aid kit you buy to contain all the basic essentials. You can also add personal-need items, such as prescription medications, motion sickness remedies that work for you, etc.
When you go shopping for your camping first-aid kit, there are some components that should rise high on your list of “must have” items. If those items are not already in the kit, they can be added after purchase.
That brings us to my list of the items that I believe should absolutely without fail be in your kit. I placed these in alphabetical order, rather than in order of importance, because they are all important. If they’re not already in your kit, look for these products at a medical supply store or drug store, or ask your doctor where you might obtain these items.
Antibiotic/pain-relieving cream. We carry Neosporin + Pain Relief, a first aid cream that can be used on open injuries to fight infection and alleviate pain. Bactine is another good product for instant topical pain relief caused by scrapes, cuts and bug bites, as well as for antibiotic protection.
Antimicrobial hand wipes. These are used for cleaning the area around wounds, and for cleaning the hands that will be treating the injury. Before you begin your wilderness nursing duties, consider how carefully doctors scrub their hands and arms before working on a patient. That’s what this item is for.
Bandages. An assortment of sizes to fit everything from little fingers with an “oweee” to big ugly cuts. Butterfly bandages or Steri-Strips are especially handy for closing wide-open slices until stitches can be taken at an emergency room. Add to the bandage category sterile pads in a variety of sizes, and medical tape that can be used to hold the pads to the skin to cover injuries that are too large for regular adhesive bandages.
Insect repellent. Bug bites can evolve into infected sores, so it’s best to keep the critters at bay by using a good repellent. Discuss this with your doctor or pediatrician, so you can choose a product that is appropriate for your family.
Moist burn pads. These are pads that are saturated with sterile water and can be placed directly over a burn, scrape, cut or other injury to protect it from contamination. These are especially good for covering burns, because they help moisten the injury and are easier to remove than dry pads.
Moleskin. This is an adhesive flannel bandage that is used to provide cushioning protection around a blister or a hot spot before it becomes a blister. Cut a hole of appropriate size and shape out of the moleskin and apply the moleskin “ring” with the vacant center where the blister or hot spot is.
Roller bandages. These are rolled up lengths of gauze that can be used as wraps to hold sterile pads or compresses onto a wound on an arm or leg, or on the head. You should also include a pair of EMT scissors for cutting the gauze or the victim’s clothing to gain access to an injured spot.
Triangular bandage. This is a large triangular piece of cloth that measures roughly 40x40x56 inches and comes with a couple of safety pins. It is used to form a sling to support an arm that has suffered a fracture or a joint sprain. It can also serve as a large wrapping bandage around a leg or the chest or abdomen, or as a head bandage or covering. And it can be utilized to hold a splint when stabilizing a fracture or sprain.
Tweezers. Nothing compares to a sharp set of tweezers when it comes to removing a splinter. If you’re careful to avoid squeezing the venom sac that is sometimes attached to a bee stinger, you can also use tweezers to remove the offending bee barb.
In addition, I would include the following: A first aid manual, just in case your emergency medical skills are a little rusty since your last Red Cross First Aid course. An emergency blanket is handy to wrap around someone suffering from hypothermia. Have a fully charged cell phone (or other communication device) so you can call for help in serious emergencies.
Examine the contents of your first aid kit periodically, replacing contents that have exceeded their “use by” date, and refreshing your memory about what is in there.
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