Most “first-aid kits” are barely good enough to patch up superficial scratches, let alone help you treat yourself or your family for serious injuries. If you want to put together a true first-aid kit (it’s not going to be a tiny plastic container) that makes preppers proud, always include these items.
Some vital medical supplies are pretty obvious, so we won’t go into too much detail about them. When it comes to adhesive bandages, sterile gauze, non-sterile gauze, stretchable gauze and medical tape, more is always better. These items are some of the most important supplies possible, and they have limitless uses, so always buy in bulk. You can go through a LOT of bandages if you ever have a serious wound, which is why you need plenty.
Don’t skimp on quality. It’s better to pay a few more dollars now and have cloth bandages that do a better job of preventing infections than plastic ones. Get the self-adherent medical tape. It only sticks to itself, not to skin. That’s a big advantage for burns.
There’s no way to know whether hospitals will be available in a survival situation. Many survival experts recommend having a small surgical kit with these items:
- Sterile scalpels: You want several sizes of scalpels, such as #10, #11 and #15.
- Sutures and suture needles: Suture thread usually comes stored in isopropyl alcohol, or you can purchase a professional suture kit.
- Forceps: These are tools similar to tweezers. They’re often included in suture kits.
- Adhesive sutures: Butterfly bandages and sterilized adhesive sutures are an alternative for light-to-moderate wounds. If you don’t have experience sewing a wound, this option can come in handy, at least to help you reach a safer area.
Don’t attempt to use scalpels and suture needles yourself unless you have the training (or you’re in a life or death situation). These items are mainly so you can benefit from anyone with medical experience you come across.
A lot of people forget how important trauma shears are in many different situations. If you get hurt, it’s probably going to be outdoors, which means you’ll have your clothes on. Instead of having to move an injured family member to try to stop the bleeding, trauma shears let you cut off their jeans quickly.
Antibiotics, Iodine and Antiseptic Creams
You need several ways to prevent infections and control them if they appear. Make sure to have antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, metronidazole and cephalexin. These medications cover a wide range of bacterial infections.
Other Survival Must-Haves
For cuts and scrapes, pack povidone iodine to disinfect wounds. Afterwards, an antiseptic cream and gauze can speed up healing while preventing infection. For burns, you’re going to want a topical analgesic with lidocaine (this is actually useful for many injuries) and hydrocortisone cream, in addition to the over-the-counter painkillers included in a normal first-aid kit.
There are other practical items that aren’t technically medical supplies, but they make a huge difference for emergencies. For example, heavy-duty trash bags and rolls of plastic wrap can prevent wound contamination and double as protective gear if you run out of surgical gloves. Emergency blankets can save a life if someone goes into shock. Don’t pack too much to carry, but try to prioritize and prepare for reasonably likely situations that are life-threatening.