Bugging Out: First-Aid Kits

By Jay Leeper, W4TFX


Jay Leeper, W4TFX

One of the first items to be created for a go kit is a first-aid kit. However, putting one together is a task that needs to meet individual and situational demands. Again, make a list of the items required for the situation, then choose a case that will contain them.

When packing your go kit, the first-aid kit needs to be where it can be reached quickly, without fuss. Side pockets or back pockets, or even a molle bag attached to the pack, will serve in any emergency.


The primary concern is personal medications. Along with the medicines, a copy of prescriptions would be appropriate, especially if the meds are narcotic or barbiturate based. Conflict with authorities at the site of an emergency is not pleasant. Neither is having to do without meds due to confiscation. If the need should arise for refills, having prescriptions and contact numbers for doctors are handy things to have!

Over the counter meds, such as Aspirin, need to be labeled and placed in a different style of container, so finding them in the dark wont be difficult. A small light is also handy.

Bandages can be chosen based on the trip. A day long event just might need self-adhesive bandages of various sizes, while a longer trip would benefit from having gauze pads and a roll or two of gauze and an Ace bandage. A triangular bandage, or a bandanna, is great to have for a number of applications.

Be careful of antiseptic creams, such as Neosporin. Discovering you are allergic to the creams while in the wild, or during an event, may cause a series of unpleasant side-effects. Imagine an injury, now compounded by a reaction that itches, and a sleepless night. No thanks!

A small magnifying glass is helpful in removing splinters, as is a set of tweezers. Include also several safety pins, and a small pair of scissors for cutting gauze. A set of different size needles may also be handy for splinter removal.
Alcohol wipes and individual hand cleaning towels are must-haves in the kit. Individual towelettes can be purchased with insect repellant on them, and they are worth their weight in gold. Also, add a stick of After Bite to the kit, the extra weight and room taken will be forgiven the first time you apply it to an insect bite. Any bites, from mosquitoes to fire ants, are almost immediately soothed by an application. Suntan lotion may also be a concern, along with burn ointment.

Take a first-aid course, one that you can use in the woods or during an event. This is not preparation for surgery, this is making the best of a bad situation until a doctor can be found. The Boy Scout program has a wilderness first-aid course that will prepare you for most events.

This list was created as a way to start a kit, and doubtless will be improved by anyone creating their own kit. If an over-the-counter kit is purchased, look at the contents while imagining the worst that can happen while away from home. This is your portable medicine chest, designed to help get you back in good shape. I am not a doctor, just a camper with about 50 years of experience, so feel free to modify this list any way you need. However, make sure you have a kit with you, and make it one you can always carry! Accidents happen quickly, and when least expected.

Jay Leeper, W4TFX, aka, The Fox, is an expert on survival, go-kits, and bug-out bags, and a CARC director. His columns appear monthly.

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