One area of prepping that seems to get a lot of attention is having a first aid kit. Everyone knows they need one, but i don’t think enough attention is given to what first aid supplies you need, and how to not break the bank while you fill it.
Every home should have a basic first aid kit, and especially when considering a disaster or life changing scenario, you will need medical supplies. The medical supplies could be different depending on the needs of your family, but this list will give you a good idea about what direction to go, and how to save money doing it.
As a Registered Nurse, specializing in advanced wound care, I can tell you exactly what you need, why? Because I use these items on an everyday basis as a part of my job. Not only will I tell you what you should have, but I will explain what you really do not need, and why.
The Bug Out Bag First Aid Kit
We have put together a bug out bag first aid kit at the shtfshop.com that has just about everything on this list and then some.This first aid kit will cost a third of the price.
We have also written a post about what exactly is in the first aid kit and some other ideas called The Bug Out Bag First Aid Kit and Then Some if you would like more information about this first aid kit.
Where To Start When Building Your First Aid Kit
To build this kit, it will probably cost you around $80-100 depending on how thrifty you can be and where you live. This is a little more than a basic first aid kit, but it has everything you will need in case of an emergency in your home, or if you are unable to get to a doctor for whatever reason. Please do not consider this a complete list by any means, but if I were in a self-reliant or survival type situation, these are the products I would want to have, and actually do have in my home emergency kit.
4 x 4 gauze pads –These are great for creating a bandage, or large band aid, cleaning a wound, adding some padding, and many other medical uses. ($10.00 for a box of 25)
2 x 2 gauze pads – although maybe considered a luxury, these are nice to have if you have a smaller wound (easier to make a workable bandage) and for packing a wound, this size bandage is great, because with the larger bandage you could cut it down, but then you risk getting gauze fibers in an open wound, which can cause other problems, so keep it simple, and spend the four bucks, and buy a box of 2 x 2 gauze pads. ($9.00 for a box of 25)
Vet wrap – you can buy this at farm supplies, like Big R, Murdoch’s, etc or online. Vet wrap is the same thing as coban, which is what the hospitals use. It is an occlusive wrap which has compression qualities. I know what you’re thinking…”It’s a what????” It is similar to an ace wrap, with more compression. It does not need an adhesive or tape to stick it down, the dressing sticks to itself. It is wonderful if you need to make a compression (pressure) dressing. For example, if someone is bleeding a lot, you would use this, and wrap it a little tight. (not super tight!) It will apply pressure, and help to stop the bleeding. I would have 2 packages of this. (around $1.00 each)
Silvasorb Gel – this is the only type of “first aid ointment” you should have in your emergency kit. This gel is incredible! You can use it for wounds, you can use it for burns, and use it to help prevent infection. It does not sting, and it is breathable. And the best thing about this gel is that it has silver in it. As you probably know, silver is antimicrobial, and antibacterial, which is exactly what you will need in an emergency situation. This gel is more expensive than other ointments, but it works. I have used this on deep wounds, burns, diabetic foot wounds, road rash, and many other types of wounds and I have never seen anything that works better than this. (Silvasorb Gel)
Hydrocortisone Cream – I know, I just said you wouldn’t need any other ointment, but this is not an ointment, it’s a cream (Ha Ha!) This you will need for a rash, or if someone got into poison ivy, mosquito bites, etc. Remember, your skin is the best defense against an infection, so it needs to stay intact. If you or your kids end up with an itchy rash and they start to scratch, the skin is broken, and an infection could occur. (Around $7.00 per tube)
Isopropyl Alcohol – several bottles of this is good, more is better. It is also helpful if you have the little alcohol pads, like the ones you get rubbed on your skin before you get a shot. The pads are convenient and light which makes them great to have for a small first aid kit that can fit in your glove box or purse. ($3.00 for a 16 oz. bottle)
Hydrogen Peroxide – this can be used DILUTED ( ½ peroxide, ½ normal saline, or distilled water) to keep wounds clean, or a mouth rinse for a tooth abscess. But please do not put peroxide full strength directly on your skin. When you see the peroxide turning your skin white, it’s killing cells and you don’t want to do that when you are trying to get a wound to heal. You can also use it in a worst case scenario to brush your teeth, but diluted, not full strength. ($.75 for a 16 oz. bottle)
Saline Solution – A bottle of contact normal saline. The plain boring saline solution, not the multipurpose contact solution. Just get the store brand, it costs about $3.00 for two twelve ounce bottles. This is good to have for rinsing out wounds, and washing out an eye if something gets in it. It would be great if you could get ‘real’ 0.9% saline solution, the kind that is used in hospitals, but it is considered a medication, and you would need a prescription to get it. But for just rinsing out wounds, or washing out eyes, the saline solution you can buy at the store will work just fine. ($2.00 for a 16 oz. bottle)
Band Aids – You can never have enough band aids. And they are cheap! I would buy several boxes of different sizes so you will be prepared for many different scraps, cuts, and whatever else can happen. ($22.00 for a box of 280 different size multi pack)
Maxi Pads – Ok, probably not what you were thinking to see on a list of first aid supplies, but, maxi pads are absorbent, and a lot cheaper than ABD (Thick abdominal pads) pads. You can use them with the coban (vet wrap) for a large wound that has a lot of drainage. ($4.00)
Ace Wrap –These are helpful for not only holding a dressing in place, but can add support for a strain or sprain. They can also be used to secure a splint. A word of advice though, don’t use the little prongs that come with the ace wrap, tape is a much better solution. ($16 (10PK) each with Velcro ends, very nice!)
Adaptic Dressings – This is a non-stick adherent dressing that works great on oozing or open wounds and burns. It will not stick, and not trap moisture. Do not confuse this with telfa pads. Telfa pads are not preferable because they will trap the drainage on the skin, and can actually make a wound worse. Telfa is cheaper, a little, but not better. Spend the extra money and get the better dressing. ($6 (Pk of 5)
Thermometer – You need this to check a temperature, and it is a vital part of your first aid kit. ($3.00 to $30 for a digital thermometer)
Vicks vapor rub – great for helping to decongest a congested person, and can be used to soften callous and even kill toe nail fungus. ($3.00 for store brand)
Muccinex (guaifenesin) – very important to break up mucous, and get it out. You don’t want mucous in the lings, because this can lead to infection (pneumonia). $5.00 for 50 tabs)
Benadryl – Has many uses, for allergic reactions, a sedative, can help with nausea and seasonal allergies. I prefer the liquid over the pills. ($3.00 for 6 oz. store brand liquid)
Ibuprofen – A wonderful pain reliever and also aids in minimizing swelling. However, if you are treating a fracture, or suspected fracture, ibuprofen can interfere with bone healing, so it is best to stick with Tylenol (Acetaminophen). ($4.00 for 100 tablets)
Acetaminophen – A pain reliever that can help bring down a fever, and is good for someone who would be on a blood thinner, or if they have a fracture. ($4.00 for 100 tablets)
Imodium, or store brand anti-diarrheal medication – Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in third world countries. Don’t take the chance, keep some in your first aid kit. ($3.00 for 24 tabs-store brand)
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar – Multiple purposes from settling an upset stomach to making fly spray! It’s also a great wound cleanser! There are hundreds of uses, just google it and find out for yourself. ($4.95 for 32 oz. bottle)
Box of Nitrile Gloves – very important to help prevent the spread of infection, and can also make balloon animals to entertain the kids! ($10.00 for a box)
Medical tape – I really like hypafix, it doesn’t leave that awful stickiness on the skin, and comes off easily. It costs a little more, but it is worth it. ($3.00 per roll)
Bandage scissors – Multiple purpose here, and it has a protective edge on one of the shear blade so you can’t cut someone when you are removing a dressing. ($4.20 on Jeffers equine, yes, it is a horse/animal company, but bandage scissors are bandage scissors! And I like $4.20 better than $38.00 on a medical website.)
Instant Cold Packs – Nice to have for sprains, bumps, bruises and fractures. ($4.00 for a twin pack)
The Total Cost?
And the grand total for everything listed above is a little over $100. Yes, it is a little more than a “basic” first aid kit that you can buy at your local retail center, but, it is a lot more complete. The retail kit is not going to have the medications, or the vinegar, or even the Vicks. These are things you can purchase one item at a time, or several. But, if you do have these items in your first aid kit you will be prepared for many family emergencies, and you may be able to prevent some things before they turn into emergencies.
I hope you got some ideas about first aid supplies and money saving tips from this article, if you have let me know? You never know when an emergency or catastrophic event will affect your family, so start preparing now for your future.