Guest post by Frank Nielson.
An essential tool in everyone’s emergency preparedness arsenal is the lowly first aid kit. Although considered important, too often little thought goes into it. This may be because so many prepackaged kits are available in all shapes and sizes.
Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of basing our purchase more on the size and price and less on the contents. Then the kit is placed on a shelf or in a bag and not thought of again. It becomes just one more item we can check off our emergency preparedness list. Part of the problem lies in our mindset. We know it is one of those tools we need but we hope to never use.
Everyone should have at least a small first aid kit that contains the essentials necessary to respond to common injuries and emergencies. A larger more comprehensive kit should be kept in the event of a drawn out disaster where medical assistance by trained professionals is not readily available. Both of these are discussed below.
Your basic first aid kit for your home or apartment can be purchased at a store or assembled by you. The important thing is that you make sure it contains the items you will likely need. Don’t just assume that a kit you purchase at the store is sufficient. Below are some basic supplies to include:
- Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
- Sterile gauze pads along with adhesive tape
- Antibiotic ointment
- Latex gloves, several pair
- Antiseptic wipes
- Aspirin or over the counter pain reliever
- First aid instructions
- Safety pins
- Space blanket
Instead of your first aid kit, think of this comprehensive kit as your only aid kit. This kit should contain your basic first aid kit plus enough supplies to allow you to treat substantial injuries during a longer disaster where medical assistance is not available. Your training and comfort level in treating emergencies will dictate what you include here. Aside from buying individual supplies online or at drug stores, these larger kits can also be purchased at many outdoor stores for individuals going on extended adventures such as river running. The basics of this kit should include:
- Duct tape
- Elastic wrap roll
- Instant cold packs
- Small plastic bags
- Water purification tablets or filter
- Anti-diarrhea medicine, antihistamine(like Benadryl), EpiPen
- Soap, hand sanitizer
- Large gauze pads in a variety of sizes
- Adhesive tape
- Turkey baster or bulb suction device for flushing out wounds
- Hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, sunscreen, bug spray
- In depth instructions on caring for medical emergencies
In addition, leave room for any personal medications. Store an extra bag in your large first aid kit specifically for storing your medications.
In an emergency, knowledge is your best friend. It’s been said that in a stressful environment you don’t rise to the occasion, you drop to your level of training. Following that advice, it is in your best interest to educate yourself on the sort of emergencies you may be dealing with. For example, can you recognize the difference between heat exhaustion and heatstroke? Do you know the early signs of hypothermia? What is the best treatment for a concussion?
The string of recent disasters should convince us all of the importance of being prepared for an emergency. The kits described above should be used as a basis for your own kit. Your circumstances, needs, and level of expertise will determine what you include in each.
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