Everyone has had those first aid kits that have a bunch of tiny bandages, a handful of pain pills, butterfly closures, small gauze pads and antibiotic gels that never get used, and are always expired or useless when you need them.
I had a kit like that, until I was able to get a hold of some medical/EMS grade pads that I’ve kept for a while. They’re all expired, and some aren’t sterile anymore.
As you can see, they look terrible. Just from the picture, I’m sure you wouldn’t trust your life, or anyone else’s relying on this stuff.
I wanted to upgrade it, but not spend a bunch of money on a crappy prebuilt kit, or spend a bunch of money on a single high end kit. I need multiple kits, so spending 100+USD on just one isn’t going to cut it.
This “bare bones kit” is made up of a few parts that are easy and fairly cheap to get:
- Bandaids (6 or so)
- Medical Tape (one roll)
- Nitrile gloves (three pairs)
- Gauze pads (3-6 individual pads)
- Israeli bandage
You can put this together initially for about 40 dollars, and 10-25 dollars afterwards. The nitrile gloves are probably the most expensive part, but since there’s many pairs per box, you can build many kits before running out of gloves. Same with the bandaids and gauze pads.
Depending on where and what quality you get the gloves, gauze, tape and bandaids, this can go from about 40 USD to upwards of 80. As you can see in the pictures, I bought most of those at Dollar General, and the nitrile gloves at Walgreens.
They were about 2 dollars for the tape and bandaids, and 3 dollars for the gauze pads. I spent probably around 11 dollars for all those.
The Israeli pressure bandages you can get off of Amazon for around 10 bucks for 6inch bandages, and 8 for a 4 inch. You can even find 3 for 25 dollars. Since the basic kit only has one, you can order 2 or 3 a month and slowly build up your medical supply for whatever may happen.
It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s still pretty useful. You can also add in extras specific for yourself or for what you’re doing. This little kit, which can fit into a canteen/general purpose pouch covers:
- Small cuts, scrapes and bumps
- Larger gashes and wounds
- Has the capacity to at least temporarily stabilize gunshot wounds, traumatic injuries, and amputations
Cuts, scrapes and bumps are simple enough- the bandaids and some cloth medical tape take care of those odd cuts on finger tips, knuckles, or the inside of your hand.
Larger gashes are a little harder, since a bandaid won’t cover it, but a trauma pad is probably too much. 4x4inch gauze is what I used to have, but I always ended up cutting down to something smaller. This time I went with some 3x3inch pads. Pair with the medical tape and you have some good gash covers.
Now, I’ve never had a bad enough to require pressure on the wound with body weight, wraps, or a tourniquet, thank goodness, but with the possibility of falling and getting speared by large branches, getting puncture or traumatic wounds from a car accident or biking accident, and other various bodily harms being a real possibility, I thought that a near catch-all sealed bandage would be better than those flimsily packaged hospital bandages made for clinical use. I also wanted something that wouldn’t go bad in only a year, since I won’t necessarily use the bandage close to when I purchase it. The answer I found was the Israeli bandage. It combines a pressure dressing, sterile dressing, wound cover and improvisable tourniquet. And it has a shelf life of around 5 years, due to the heavy duty military grade aluminum packaging. Best of all, it’s not terribly expensive.
I didn’t include a chest seal, mostly because I don’t have training for that, but the heavy plastic from the Israeli bandage can be used with medical tape as a seal.
Since this kit is fairly modular, I adapted from the basic build I came up with and added in an extra 6inch bandage, as well as a SAM splint, since sticks aren’t exactly strong in this area. I also added in a couple of elastic wraps into my kit for extra pressure and for pulled or strained muscles and slings and wraps for the splint.
I also needed a way to keep the nitrile gloves clean and organized, so I used plastic pill bags to hold them for later use as well as at the ready.
In addition to the splint and extra bandage, I like to keep some body temperature management in my med kit.
Since summer is really hot, and I’m susceptible to heat exhaustion, I throw in instant cold packs, which will provide on demand cool. These can be used under the armpit and groin area to help cool off someone that’s suffering from heat exhaustion.
In winter, I usually toss a couple of hand warmers in as well. Make sure they’re up to date, the expired ones don’t warm very well if at all.
Altogether, this should last for at least a year before I have to replace the gauze, and 4 more years before I have to replace the pressure bandages.
I hope you can take something away from this so you’re prepared for when you get cut or hurt.