Best First Aid and Emergency Preparedness Kit Review 2017

You can’t put any of your first-aid knowledge and training to use without a good first-aid kit. From this section, you hopefully have realized the importance of knowing first aid for situations from the simple to the extreme, and you’ve decided to seek training. Now, you need to put together the kit and tools you need to use your new skills.

IFAK

Think of your individual first-aid kit, or IFAK, as the toolkit that will help you handle whatever medical challenge you face. You should be able to carry it on your person at all times, it should only have the things in it that you are trained to use and it should be simple rather than complex. An IFAK is designed to meet the following criteria:

  • It can enable you to handle basic, intermediate and emergency levels of medical situations.
  • You can carry it with you at all times.
  • It is fairly simple

Basic Kit

A basic kit should contain what you typically find in your home first-aid kit. It should contain materials with which to make bandages (either large Band-Aids or gauze pads and tape for making your own), a tube of antibiotic ointment to prevent infections from cuts, a few alcohol wipes for cleaning the wound area, personal medications and over-the-counter medications for allergic reactions/hay fever, diarrhea and pain. It should also contain a couple of sets of non-latex gloves in case you need to help someone other than yourself. Remember: All you need in a basic kit is enough supplies to handle one or two uses. Otherwise, it would be too bulky to carry with you all the time.

  • Large Band-Aids or gauze pads and tape for making your own bandages
  • Tube of antibiotic ointment to prevent infections from cuts
  • Alcohol wipes for cleaning the wound area
  • Personal medications
  • Over-the-counter medications for allergic reactions/hay fever, diarrhea and pain
  • A couple of sets of non-latex gloves

Intermediate Kit

An intermediate kit should include everything in the basic kit along with some items that will enable you to handle more serious things, such as broken bones, burns, insect and animal bites, and cold or heat injuries. It should contain a tube of burn ointment as well as a space blanket to keep the person warm in the case of a cold injury or shield him from the sun in the case of a heat injury. An ACE bandage and splints are good additions to the intermediate kit.

  • All items in the basic kit
  • Splints and an ACE bandage
  • Tube of burn ointment
  • Space blanket

Trauma Kit

A trauma kit is designed to handle life-threatening injuries. It should contain a windlass-style tourniquet for arterial bleeding, a compression dressing for heavy bleeding and a set of chest seals for puncture wounds to the chest (which could result in a collapsed lung). Other good items include a tampon (to stop bleeding from puncture wounds or gunshots) and a pack of gauze impregnated with a clotting agent, such as Celox or QuikClot, for packing into deep wounds that a compression dressing can’t handle. Note: If you include a clotting agent in your kit, bear in mind that it has an expiration date and should be replaced when it expires. Although these types of trauma kits—also called “blow-out kits”—are geared toward law enforcement and the military, they can be lifesavers in bug-out situations should someone suffer from massive bleeding or a punctured lung. These are the kinds of medical situations that can quickly result in death, so it is imperative that you receive the proper training in how to use the items in the kit.

  • Windlass-style tourniquet for arterial bleeding
  • Compression dressing for heavy bleeding
  • Set of chest seals for puncture wounds to the chest
  • Tampon to stop bleeding punctures
  • Pack of gauze impregnated with a clotting agent like Celox or QuikClo

Tourniquets Vs. Compression Bandages

Although they work in a similar manner, tourniquets and compression bandages are applied in different locations and serve very different purposes. The main difference is that a tourniquet goes between the wound and the heart while a compression bandage goes directly on top of the wound. The purpose of a tourniquet is to stop bleeding by applying pressure to the blood vessel that is feeding the bleeding area.

For that reason, it is applied between the wound site and the heart to stop the blood from getting to the wound site. Tourniquets are only used as a last result when other methods have not been successful at stopping the bleeding. Compression bandages are used to stop bleeding, too, but they do so by applying pressure on a gauze compress that is directly on the wound. Pressure is applied by wrapping the bandage tightly on top of the wound, thereby slowing the flow of blood and helping the clot to form in the wound. This application of direct pressure is normally the first method used for a bleeding wound.

Improvisation + Training = K.I.S.S.

Once you get some experience in using your IFAK, you might want to simplify it a bit. A friend of mine who has had a lot of first-aid training in the military and years of experience in the backcountry has a very simple IFAK. It contains several feet of duct tape wrapped around an expired credit card, some gauze pads and pain killers stored in a plastic bag. He is admittedly tough as nails, but he is also an example of how experience coupled with a minimal set of “tools” and things you find on site can lead to finding expedient solutions for problems ranging from simple cuts and sore muscles all the way up to putting a compression dressing on a deep wound, splinting broken bones and treating a chest wound

First aid myths the proper way to handle the emergency

Knowing what not to do in an emergency can be almost as important as knowing what to do. Here are a few common myths of First Aid dispelled:

  1. MYTH: To stop profuse bleeding, apply a tourniquet to the wound.
    SOLUTION: Unless a trained professional or in the case of a severed limb, use of a tourniquet by an amateur can very quickly lead to the death of a limb and its amputation. Instead, apply heavy pressure to the wound with a towel, bandage or other piece of cloth. Do not give over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin because that may increase blood loss. Immediately get to a medical professional.
  2. MYTH: Remove a knife or other foreign object from a victim.
    SOLUTION: Removing a foreign object from the body, such as a knife or arrow, is never a good idea. Indeed, removing it will usually do more harm than good, as the object not only may be preventing further blood loss, but may cause even more severe damage on the way out.
    Instead, attempt to keep the object stable and immediately go to the emergency room.
  3. MYTH: If someone faints or feels like he may faint, have him put his head between his knees.
    SOLUTION: This will likely only lead the person to fall forward. The proper way to handle the situation is to have him lie down with his legs elevated to increase blood flow to the brain.

(Sources: American Heart Association, FEMA, U.S. Army Survival Guide)

The essentials what your first aid kit must include

In a medical emergency, a properly packed First Aid kit can mean the difference between life and death.
While the most important tool to have with you in a disaster is proper training, the International Red Cross recommends that all First Aid kits have the following items. Of course, additional preparations should be made depending on you and your family’s individual circumstances.

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings
    (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of non-latex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
    (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • First Aid instruction booklet