Continued from The Bug Out Bag (Part Two) First Aid Kits come in all shapes and sizes for differing reasons. Industrial First Aid Kits contain eyes washes as a standard, and the ones for homes sometimes contain an Epipen for injecting epinephrine when needed in an emergency. A first response kit, which is what first aid kits really are, are meant to provide preventative medicine until further help arrives. It's primary reason for being in a home, or on a job site is to prevent blood loss, and prevent infections, while emergency service attempt to reach the victims of accidents and crime. None of the above applies to a Bug Out Bag.
The whole point of a BOB is to get you to where you can help yourself, a first aid kit within a BOB should be meant for much of the same thing. It is still there to provide protection from infections, and help prevent blood loss, but the approach is different because your not expecting some one to come to take you to a hospital, your going to have to get there yourself, or worse, depend wholly on yourself for care. First Aid Kits With that in mind, I approach the item list of a First Aid Kit within a BOB on the assumption of the worse case scenario, and a few things change as to what you would include in it. And with that we have to look at the types of injuries one can encounter while trying to reach your destination. The first and most likely cause of a need for aid is blood loss, either as a result of coming under the line of fire, accident, disaster, or a direct attack of an assailant. You need to have in your kit a simple tort, although a leather strap might be of use, I recommend a length of rubber tubing like those used in modern slingshots to use as a means to cut off blood flow to an arm or leg, and pressure bandages for body wounds made of sterile cotton. Fabric based duct tape can be used as the ultimate bandage with cotton pads to prevent dirt and foreign matter from entering the wound area. This immediately brings a secondary issue to light, and that is of infection. Using alcohol, bleach, lye, and vinegar in a crunch maybe your only way to disinfect a wound, and the instruments you use to patch together yourself WSHTF, however I strongly recommend purchasing a supply of liquid hospital grade disinfectant like AMPHYL which has a pH level of 10.5 in use (when distilled). The liquid you purchase must be able to kill Sporicidal, Tuberculocidal, Virucidal, Fungicidal, and Bactericidal types of infection. I would discourage purchasing multiple liquids to cover these as you are not likely to know in advance of possible interactions which might not be in your best interest, stick with a single cover all. A higher concentration can be used on knives, scissors, and other objects to clean them as compared to direct skin contact, do not get any in the wounds directly, even using alcohol by washing a wound entirely is a Hollywood myth, and should not be practiced. To clean the inside of wounds, for the purpose of removing dirt and other material, use a sterile saline solution. The more a wound moves, the slower it heals. Whether it is a broken bone, dislocated shoulder, a bruise, or a cut. Immobilizing an injury is the next step in helping yourself recover. Again, fabric based duct tape can of use here, splints made fabricated with nearby scraps of wood, tree branches, and even metal pipe. But ultimately direct repair maybe needed. There are two things you must remember when applying external aid to the body, first the body is ten times better at then you, after you have cleaned a wound, and prevented it from getting further dirt in it, it is likely best to leave it alone. Second, the body has a budget system running the show, if you are using energy to escape the city while you are wounded, the body will use resources to help you in your escape that might be needed to do repairs. You need to take a step back, and think calmly of your current circumstances, and what it is going to tax your internal system. If your feet are wounded, always seek shelter first, and wait till they are mended. If your wounds are the result of the environment such as sunburn, heat stroke, frost bite, thick dust/smoke, hail, etc. seek safe shelter until the cause is gone. Second Aid Sometimes you will have no choice but further intervention. This is where knowledge, and skill are mandatory. Writing about it here in this blog will only likely confuse, and compound the problem, I do have some recommendations however for supplies and further reading. First Aid for Soldiers Medical Textbooks Online Survival Times Collection A Bug Out Bag is meant for speed; light weight, small, and concealment are the measures by which you should judge what goes into it. When ever possible choose items that have more then one use, and be willing to spend money on quality items. Anything you have in your kit takes up space, and weight. When at all possible use items that have multiple uses, specialization is for insects. First Aid Kit Supplies: Adhesive bandages should be made of fabric, avoid the plastic types. These can be bought in a roll fashion, you just cut off what you need. Tweezers stainless steal, although the type found on Swiss Army Knives are good enough, (Ex-Champ) Disposable gloves are often found in modern first-aid kits, latex. MAKE SURE THEY ARE MANUFACTURED IN NORTH AMERICA! Dressings (sterile, applied directly to wound) cotton preferred because they are bio-degradable, and the little pieces that might be left embedded in the wound will be absorbed by the immune system, unlike synthetic materials. Gauze Roll, used also for cleaning wounds like the ABD pads Liquid Vitamin E, Aloe , Tea Tree Oil, and Polysporin Cotton Fabric Sheet - used as slings, tourniquets, to tie splints, and many other uses Duct Tape 20-cc syringe with catheter tip for wound irrigation with sterile saline solution or the type used to give babies medicine Flashlight Sterile saline (used for cleaning wounds where clean tap water is not available, but note that even clean tap water should be converted to normal saline by adding salt) Space blanket (lightweight plastic foil blanket, also known as "emergency blanket") Alcohol rub (hand sanitizer) or antiseptic hand wipes Thermometer Medication Antiseptics/antimicrobial Iodine Benzalkonium Chloride Alcohol pads - used to prep unbroken skin for injections etc. or to disinfect equipment such as thermometers. Antibiotic pills – WARNING CHECK THE HALF LIFE Antibiotic ointment - single, double, or triple antibiotic ointment in petroleum jelly base Antiseptic/anesthetic ointment, fluid or spray, for example Lidocaine Anti-fungal cream Anti-itch ointment Hydrocortisone cream Calamine lotion Painkillers / fever reducers Acetaminophen Ibuprofen - anti-inflammatory, often more effective than acetaminophen. Aspirin or ASA Anti diarrhea medication such as Loperamide Immodium Oral rehydration salt Antihistamine diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl) \ Epinephrine auto-injector (brand name Epipen) - often included in kits for wilderness use and in places such as summer camps, to treat anaphylactic shock. Poison treatments Activated charcoal Syrup of ipecac QuikClot is a hemostatic agent sometimes included in first aid kits, especially military kits, to control severe bleeding. Tincture of benzoin— improves tape adhesion to skin, toughens cracked skin Fire Starters One of the essential skills needed to survival is starting a fire. And two of the coolest ways to do it is either the use of a Fire Piston, or a Swiss Match. The link above to the Fire Piston will bring you to a site that makes them hand-made, (Hat tip to the Primitive Skills Group), and they are always looking for those that can hand crave wood if your looking for a cool job. A fire piston compresses air which heats it enough to ignite tinder. Even if you plan on using a Zippo, get one of these! I always have a Swiss Match in my Bug Out Bag, and a little leather pouch which I have stuffed dryer lint into. Using a Swiss Match, which is a rod of forged flint and a piece of metal, and the lint has been easier to start a fire then using wooden matches some times. It takes a bit of getting use to, but all that you need to do is to place the lint under your tinder in a pile of small bits of wood, and make sure that the lint isn't to compressed, gets enough air, and make your sparks. Puff on it when you see smoke, and it will ignite starting the fire. You can waterproof wooden matches by dipping them in melted candle wax, and having a good quality magnifying glass in your kit doesn't hurt during the summer, but by far the Fire Piston, and the Swiss Match are must haves. Continued in Bug Out Bag Part 4 - Wolfe