|Contents of an IFAK - clockwise from the top: NPA, TK4 tourniquet in the middle, combat gauze, gloves, H&H gauze|
and an Isreali bandage.
For a survivor, having these same supplies and the knowledge on how to use 'em can be a life saver.
You can buy very nice and capable IFAKs, premade and ready to go. But, they will run you around a hundred bucks, outside our budget. Never fear, you can put together a similar kit for within our $40 budget--yep, really.
How? We'll walk you through it - click below!
The spendy part of most of these pre-made kits is the QuikClot combat gauze, which runs $40 or $50 retail alone. Do you need QuikClot? It's a "good to have." Combat gauze is gauze impregnated with an agent that promotes clotting, so it'll do a better job at stopping bleeding than plain old gauze. But, plain old gauze will work too, a heck of a lot better than your t-shirt or whatever else you can scrounge up. Not AS well, but its 3-4 bucks instead of $40.
Another option is buying your Combat Gauze on the secondary market. eBay and gun shows are full of perfectly good, new in package QuikClot at steep discounts -- $12 to $20 a pop is not uncommon. I just bought 5 for $60 a few weeks back. Check the expiration dates, though the stuff will still work after that date. This is the cheapest way to go and still have Combat Gauze in your kit.
For plain ol' gauze, I like H&H compressed. It's quite tiny packed, yet has 4.5 yards of gauze. Pretty much the standard. Amazon has it for $4 shipped, which is about as much as I'd pay.
The most critical part of an IFAK is perhaps the tourniquet. For scary, spurting blood, a tourniquet is what you should reach for. The TK 4 is inexpensive, light and small. It's not the best (I like the SOF-TT and many like the C-A-T), but we're working on a budget here. Amazon has 'em for around $9, though I got 5 for $13 on eBay not too long ago (yes, FIVE, new in package). Check eBay and your gun show for SOF-TTs and C-A-Ts too, you can often find them for around $10-$15 new in packaging--and I wouldn't buy anything not new in packaging. I would upgrade to one of these for your go-to tourniquet at some point down the road.
A 4" Israeli bandage is another standard issue IFAK item; the best deal I found was $5 at a gun show. Amazon has 'em for around $6-$7. There's several sellers on eBay that are charging like $2 a pop, but they ship from Israel and I haven't taken the the chance on 'em.
Many military IFAKs contain a chest seal/occlusive dressing for sucking chest wounds, but one can be improvised with plastic and duct tape. Add a flat pack of duct tape to your IFAK. Military kits also contain a decompression needle, but I would hold off on one until you had taken training. Chest decompression requires shoving a long needle into the lung, so it's not something I would recommend without the proper training. After you get the training, you can add a decompression needle to your kit.
The final item in our kit is a Nasopharyngeal Airway, commonly known as an NPA or a nasal trumpet if you're feeling frisky. This goes up the old nose if the mouth/airway is compromised. Around $4 to $7 bucks. You probably don't need lubricating goop to use it in a battlefield situation, but if it comes with it for free, that's groovy. Amazon has the best price I've seen at under $5 shipped, with lube.
If you're clever enough, you can get some gloves for free. Many sellers of this stuff will throw in a pair of gloves - potential idea. If you buy 'em, you generally have to buy a big box, which is overkill for a handful of kits. I bought a $20 box of nice nitrile gloves a while back, and I still have most of 'em.
So, let's tally up the components here:
- TK-4 Tourniquet - $9
- QuikClot Combat Gauze sourced on the secondary market We'll say you can find some for $15. Or you can skip this and double up on the H&H.
- H&H gauze - $4
- 4" Israeli Bandage - $6
- NPA - $5
- Flat pack of duct/gorilla tape (wrap it around an old card) - basically free
- Gloves - free
That puts us at $39 bucks.
Put it all in a heavy duty freezer bag (the 1 Quart sizes are what I use). You can see the contents and the bag plus your tape can be used for a chest seal. You can upgrade to something more tactical than Ziploc down the road.
Of course, none of this stuff will do you any good if you don't have a clue how to use it. Check out our medical tag for related videos (scroll down a bit) and the TCCC home page. We're talking about real life traumatic wounds, so expect graphic injuries, especially at the TCCC site. I will be posting links to more related videos in our "tip of the week" entry for this week. YouTube has a plethora of manufacturer's videos on this stuff.
With this kit and some basic training, you're prepared to render lifesaving first aid for a serious, life threatening traumatic injury-- like a gun shot wound or amputation. Note that it's military doctrine to NOT use your IFAK on someone else - you use their IFAK, saving yours in case you get injured too. As a civilian, you may not have that option unless others are carrying similar kits--so outfit your group/friends/family with similar kits.
Finally, avoid packing your IFAK with boo boo stuff like bandaids, Neosporin, etc. You don't want that crap getting in your way if you have to use the contents in an emergency.
Cost: $39 bucks.
Bank: Your prices will vary a bit - you can do it for more or for less depending on the deals you can find. Because of this, we're not going to bank anything extra this week.
Already got an IFAK?
Get more! Do you have one in each vehicle? In your EDC bag? Range bag? Fighting load? Bug out bags? You get the picture. You can generally get better deals when buying in bulk, too.