Being prepared is the key to survival when disaster strikes and failing to plan for such situations is equivalent to deliberately planning to fail. What makes preparedness so important is the fact that you’d probably have no access to emergency aid, food, and power when a disaster strikes. Everyone would be running for their own lives and you never know how long the situation would last. While there are a ton of things you can do to keep yourself ready for a calamity, you should at least consider keeping a medical aid kit always ready. Not only it’s a must-have kit for preppers, but it can also be very useful in our day-to-day lives.
Why a Medical Aid Kit?
As the name suggests, a medical kit aka emergency survival/first aid kit can mean the difference between life and death when a misadventure strikes. Whether you are in an emergency situation or just camping out in the wild, a medical aid kit keeps you prepared for medical emergencies and is an essential element for survival. This makes it very important for everyone to build an emergency kit themselves or buy one ready-made. The two main things you need to survive a medical emergency include a medical aid kit and knowing how to use it.
Building and Organizing Your Own Medical Aid Kit
Doomsday preppers can either build their own emergency medical kit or buy a ready-made kit. Regardless of the choice they make, there are a few components that should be part of any emergency kit, whether custom-built or ready-made including (followed by some recommended products):
First Aid/Medical Bag
The bag makes it to the top of the list as that’s where you’d be putting all the medical supplies in. There is no shortage of such bags and although you can get away with even the most basic ones, it’s better to go for the one that’s water-resistant and offers multiple compartments for better organization. You can choose amongst different bags, baskets, boxes etc. but nylon bags make more sense when it comes to portability and carrying it for long periods of time. Some important things to consider while selecting a first aid bag include:
- How do you want to store the kit, storing at home or inside a car or want to take it to places?
- You need a durable bag made out of ballistic nylon if you camp or do other outdoor activities
- The size and shape of the bag depends on how much supplies you want to store
- You’d want the most compact bag if you plan on carrying it on long trips involving a lot of walking
- Professionals obviously need something like large backpacks, but that’s not something a ‘normal’ prepper would generally want
- Lightweight and compact
- Central section with built-in pocket
- Removable and adjustable Velcro divider
- Side pockets for keeping small equipment/bandages ready
- Two zippered side pockets
- Two carry handles
- Reinforced backing
- Wide, padded shoulder straps
- Large internal compartment
Although the list of over-the-counter medications varies from individual to individual, there are a few medications every kit should have including (followed by the recommended minimum quantity):
- Aspirin (15+)
- Ibuprofen (20+)
- Oral rehydration (x3)
- Dramamine (x10)
- Acetaminophen (15+)
- Anti-histamine (x10)
- Sudafed (x10)
- Immodium or Loperamide (x10)
- Throat lozenges (10+)
- Bismuth tabs (x20)
- Cranberry extract (x10)
- Stoll softener/Laxative (x15)
- Dramamine (x10)
Basic medical tools
You might think that since all tweezers look the same, they’d also perform the same. However, this is not true when it comes to medical tools as they need to be more precise than everyday tools. That’s why you need to have some basic but ‘proper’ medical tools for emergency situations. These tools include
- Medical tweezers or tactical tweezers that make it easier to remove otherwise hard to get and foreign objects
- Thermometer, preferably an infrared thermometer for situations when time is of the essence
- Q-tips, preferably anti-bacterial for better ‘medical cleanliness’
- EMT shears with fluoride coating, better and easier cutting due to the non-stick surface
- Surgical-grade nail clippers made of stainless steel, also work great for everyday use
- A scalpel with blades is good enough for most situations, but you can also consider a suture kit if you are looking for something more advanced
- A standard stethoscope is all you need in most emergency situations, but you can consider buying an advanced one (which costs significantly more than a standard one)
Just having a first aid kit in emergencies isn’t enough as you also need to know how and when to use different tools and medications. You don’t need to be a pro in order to use most of the tools, but you need to have at least basic training for providing emergency treatment. Although you can easily find a ton of useful information online and watch YouTube videos, you might want to keep a medical survival guide with the kit for quick reference.
Wound and trauma supplies
Treating wounds and trauma might not be something amateurs would like to deal with in normal conditions. But you have to deal with them to the best of your ability in emergency situations when no professional help is available. Some of the tools that can greatly help deal with ugly wounds and trauma include blister treatments such as Molefoam, 2nd skin, medical tape, and moleskin. Other wound treatments and tools include:
- Ace bandages
- Alcohol wipes
- Nitrile gloves
- Irrigation syringe
- Triangle bandages
- Moldable foam splint
- Suture kit
- Sterile gauze pads
- Butterfly closures
Burn lotions and other creams
Creams and lotions help keep burns and wounds infection-free and clean, while they also reduce inflammation and stop the fungus from growing. There are all sorts of creams available each with its own benefits, but the most common ones include Neosporin (antibiotic), miconazole (antifungal), hydrocortisone, while the kit should also include an anti-bacterial bar soap.
You can ignore prescription medicine if you only want to build a basic kit, but you might want to include it if you are one of those doomsday preppers. However, prescription medicine requires a deep understanding of administrating medicine and you should have solid reasons for storing prescription medicine, which includes:
- Epinephrine 1mg for treatment of severe allergic reactions
- Azithromycin 500mg for heart valve bacterial infections and atypical mycobacterial infections
- Ciprofloxacin 500 mg for anthrax exposure and infection treatment
- Bactrim d.s/Amoxicillin/Flagyl for treating bacterial infections
- Fluconazole 100mg for prevention and treatment of some fungal infections
Although the aforementioned supplies should be enough for most emergency situations, you might also want to keep some additional supplies including:
- Asthma inhalers
- Small toys or puzzle for children (to keep them busy with something during an emergency)
- Toiletries (at least a razor, toothbrush/toothpaste, and a deodorant)
- Aquamira tablets for water purification
- Bug/mosquito repellent
- Waterproof matches and survival lighter
- Pocket masks
Packing and Organizing a Medical Emergency Kit
You’d want to have everything neatly organized and quickly accessible when you need stuff in emergency situations. No one can afford to waste time finding the required tools or medicine through a bag full of unorganized and unlabeled supplies. Regardless of the type of bag you have, dividing the kit into some broad categories makes organization easier. The content can be categorized in a number of ways such as separation of prescription medicine, over-the-counter medication, trauma, personal supplies, and medical tools. Trauma supplies should be easily accessible and stored in a separate and most accessible pocket.
Organizing by Compartment
You can store medical supplies in different built-in compartments of a bag/container, while you can also use stuff sacks for better protection and easier recognition. They are very packable, mostly water-resistant and available in different colors, which make it easier to quickly spot the stuff you need.
Tupperware is another method of separating compartments that works well for people who are not much concerned with the weight and space of their medical kits. Tupperware is available in all sorts of shapes and sizes at a very affordable price, while you can also easily label it pretty easily.
Ziplock bags cost almost nothing, are much more effective at containing spills and can be used for different purposes such as arranging and labeling drugs. You can store anything that leaks in a zip-lock bag and keeps liquids from tainting the rest of your first aid kit.
Pill bottles are also cheap and can be used for a variety of purposes including storing medication and keeping other small stuff organized.
Other Items to Consider for a Complete Emergency Supply Kit
In addition to an emergency medical kit, you’d also need some other supplies that can help you survive a disaster. Some other emergency supplies include:
- Water and food for at least three days (one-gallon water per person per day)
- Basic utensils and manual can opener
- Personal care items such as toothbrush and toothpaste
- Safety supplies including an emergency blanket, multipurpose tools, whistle etc.
- Electronic items including a tactical flashlight, hand-crank chargeable radio, extra batteries
- Copies of the most important documents such as insurance cards, medical condition documents, emergency plans
- Map of your area, preferably marked with safe shelters spots
- Some extra cash and an extra set of house and car keys
- Supplies for children such as baby food, formula, bottles, and diapers
- Small toys and games to keep children busy, which can help you focus on the important stuff
- Food, water and cleaning supplies for pets, a large-enough carrier for their transportation
Having a medical emergency kit and knowing how to use different tools can greatly help in emergency situations. But you also need to put some serious thought into the proper organization and keeping the kit updated. Don’t forget that medicines expire and unknowingly using an expired one can do more harm than good. That’s why it’s strongly recommended to systematically check for expiry dates, container seal fails and leakages. Preparing your own kit might not be a cheap endeavor, but you can also consider buying basic, but inexpensive ready-made kits.
An emergency supply kit in general and a medical kit, in particular, should always be ready and available at a moment’s notice. Whether you are planning just for yourself or for the whole family, you need to have a general plan including how to evacuate in case of an emergency. You’d want to pack all the basic stuff needed for survival for all the family (and have others help in carrying the stuff). You also need to consider your pets, especially in regions that are more prone to wildfires and other natural disasters.
- Choosing a bag/container for storing medical supplies might not seem that important, but this choice actually carries a lot of weight
- It’s recommended to invest in a weather-proof and durable bag with separate compartments for better organization
- Use stuff sacks, Tupperware, zip-lock bags and pill bottles to organize supplies
- Keeping the first aid kit list and survival guide with the kit helps track supplies and learn on-the-go
- Ready-made kits make it easier for beginners to get started, while you can customize them by adding extras and other personal supplies
- Prescription medicine should be stored if you have a good reason to believe you’d need them when things turn ugly
- Getting basic first aid training or at least learning important things can greatly help when a calamity suddenly strikes
- All items in the kit should be usable and functional in an emergency situation, periodically check (at least twice a year) for expired medicines
- Replace expired medicine/supplies with fresh supplies
- Keep the kit neatly organized and store the most important stuff at an easily accessible location
- Use compartments or containers to organize supplies, categorizing by type helps quickly find an item when the time is of the essence
- Label each compartment/container clearly and mention the expiry date if any
- Keep supplies that can leak in water-tight bags so they don’t spill onto other life-saving supplies
- Involve children and other family members; train them so everyone can work as a team in emergency situations