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10/29/13

Everyday Carry First Aid Kit - 3 Years Later

I made up a few of these basic, low-profile First Aid kits back in 2010. One went into my EDC bag, and has since been restocked and repacked several times. The other went into my wife's purse, where it has remained and been plundered as needed since. It was slightly different than the kit I built for myself and the contents list linked above, but fairly similar - minus some of the larger bandages, super glue, allergy meds, etc.

The kit became part of her daily carry since then, getting moved to different bags and used on a fairly regular basis when out and about. Motivated by finally running out of bandaids, she recently reminded me that it needed to be restocked. Probably a bit of an understatement.

Having spent 3 years in several purses and diaper bags, I thought it was interesting to see what had fared well under the wear-and-tear, what had been used up and what hadn't been needed in 3 years of daily use.


What Didn't Get Used:
None of the medication was really used--the kit had Tylenol, Imodium, and chewable Pepto. It's all expired at this point. My wife is not a big medication taker.

The Pepto was smashed into a fine powder and the packaging failed, spreading a pink dust over many of the kits contents. I would avoid these in the future.

Anything bandages for a wound larger than a small cut was mostly unused - butterfly closures and gauze pads. Steri-Strips were added at some point and went unused, too.

Also lightly used - Alchol pads - 2 of 10 used and Triple Antibiotic Ointments - 1 of 3 used

What Got Used:
Bandaids! All long gone, and I'm fairly certain it's been restocked once or twice.

Also, the wife reminded me that while she was on a cruise without me (can you believe that?) my brother (yes, this was with my immediate family) cut his knee pretty bad on some rocks while they were on a random beach in Bermuda. A few of the gauze pads, gauze tape and large bandaids were used to patch up his wound. This was a couple years ago, and the stuff used up was never replaced.

Safety pins are long gone. My wife also raided my stash of safety pins in my EDC bag.

The rest of the gauze tape and moleskin are gone - used to treat a couple blisters

The Gorilla tape is also gone, but I'm fairly certain it was ditched from the kit at some point, not actually used.

The Containers - aLoksaks and craft bags:
The kit has two aLoksaks--one large one, and one smaller within the kit. Neither will reliably seal at this point and are worn to heck, but they did do the job of holding the contents and generally protecting them from wear. They need to be chucked out and replaced. Not sure if I'd buy these again, but for a couple bucks each, they should be viewed as a disposable step up from a ZipLock freezer bags.

It also had a pair of little bulk-pack zip baggies from the craft store - these are $2 or $3 for a hundred or so. They were held within the large aLoksak and are also worn to heck at this point, but they still seal, where the small aLoksak doesn't.

Refinements for Mk II:
The wifey needs more of a boo boo kit versus a first aid kit. I'll still include a few things for dealing with a larger cuts, but more bandaids for the kid's various nicks and scrapes are what she really needs. Medication did not get used, so we'll trim back there, too.

To stand up to the long term abuses of riding in a purse or diaper bag, I'm going to invest in a sturdier container for the kit - probably one of the small Maxpedition pocket organizers.

14 comments :

  1. A good FAK is more of a luxury than a necessity. As Dave Canterbury always says--anything that can't be fixed with a bandanna and duck tape means your in serious trouble and likely need a hospital, not a first aid kit. That being said its still nice to have and I have a few FAKs stashed here and there. I keep them in whatever canvas or molle-type pouches I have lying around. Actually a random DOPP bag (everyone has a drawer full of those) works pretty well but might be a little on the large side. (That's what I use for my car bag.)

    The most important thing to carry is a big thing of Gorilla Tape. Don't get the 3m medical tape stuff--its the worst. That stuff will peel off in seconds. Especially if there is a deep cut that is bleeding a lot (the only time your really going to tape up a wound) its just not going to stick. I've had some serious cuts in my day and Gorilla Tape is king. If you want instead of a FAK just carry around a roll of Gorilla Tape and 90% of your FAK needs will be taken care of. You need something that will stick even when things are all wet and bloody and GT will get the job done. I've tried numerous times to use medical tape to tape gauze in place and it just falls off almost immediately. Each time I just give up and grab some Gorilla Tape out of the old tool box. Gorilla Tape is where its at!

    As for band aids, band aids suck. They are just the worst. Again--Gorilla Tape is king. Maybe Gorilla Tape should make some bandaids--I'd buy them by the truckload. I've never had a band aid stay on for more than a few hours. And those giant bandaids for larger wounds (the big 2 inch thick ones) are pretty useless too--a wound of that size needs more than a crappy bandaid. Buying 12 different sizes is just being a sucker to the bandaid company's trickery. I mean go ahead and keep a few standard size bandaids if you please--they don't really weigh anything after all--but more important is some good antiseptic cream, some alcohol pads, and of course: Gorilla tape. And pack a bunch of gauze type material too. Tons. My kit is mostly just a bunch of gauze type stuff. A deep cut will bleed like crazy and can soak up a handful of gauze almost immediately--so the more gauze the better. One time I cut my foot really really bad and it took like half a roll of paper towels before the bleeding slowed down. I've found that a roll of 2 inch thick cheapo standard run of the mill gauze works as well as anything else. If you really want throw in some Quick Clot but I've used them in the past and don't find them super effective. Maybe other people have had better success but I've been pretty turned off to Quick Clot. Maybe the powdered stuff works better (not the impregnated pad).

    For meds I keep pain killers and pepto bismal (always the non-chewable pill variety, knock offs of course) in those tiny 3oz bottles Nalgene makes. That way they are nice and protected instead of super crushed into dust after 5 minutes.

    Anything else is kind of just weird little luxury items. Maybe a needle for popping gross blisters and a little lighter to sanitize it with. Maybe a mirror or some handwash. Beyond that and you get to trauma surgery type territory--lung wound seal things, tourniquets, airway tracheotomy stabbing thingys etc. Maybe these could go in a rather large FAK but I'm not sure how effective that sort of stuff is going to be unless you really know what your doing and how to use them. Unless you have actual training at that point you kind of need a hospital or at least a paramedic/doctor/medic/medical-professional.

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    1. These are little more than boo-boo kits for minor cuts and inconveniences versus a med kit for a survival situation. I doubt my wife or toddler are going to slap duct tape on a cut and call it good.

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    2. Band-Aid makes a line called "Tough Strips". They're the fabric kind and really stay put. I used them when I was an electrician because you're always cutting up your hands and residential clients don't like blood on their stuff for some odd reason. Even after a full day of that kind of abuse they stay stuck and keep all the dirt out that comes with working in the trades.

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    3. "slap duct tape on a cut and call it good." :D

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    4. Ya I've tried those "tough" strips before and they still stay on for about a quarter of a second. Band aids just don't work for me--maybe I'm just too ADHD to avoid constantly picking at them.

      If its truly just a boo-boo kit then you are just talking about nicks and little cuts. I for one typically just let that sort of stuff take care of itself. Maybe I'll hold a cut down for a few seconds with my thumb and call it good. But I 'spose that's not for everyone. If its just a boo-boo kit all you need is a handful of bandaids and maybe some neosporin and you can call it good. Anything beyond that is going to be true FAK territory which means duct tape and tons of gauze. Believe me--I've had several major cuts in my time and that's whats going to work best. And anything that that won't handle (as far as cuts go) and your getting into hospital/medical-professional levels of injury. If a little kid cuts his finger then ya, you aren't going to slap some gorilla tape on it. He'll probably want a bandaid with Sponge Bob Square Pants on it and really putting a bandaid on is more of a psychological comfort than anything else. So ya, for boo-boos that's fine I guess. But if the kid somehow winds up with a 4 inch gash on his leg then believe me you're not going to think twice about slapping duck tape (and tons of gauze of course) all over that thing. And he'll be so freaked out that he's not going to notice whether or not his favorite cartoon character is on the wound dressing.

      No amount of band aids will do ANY good if the wound is beyond paper cut territory. And medical tape or anything similar is liable to just peel right off when things start getting bloody. Maybe there is some special medical tape I don't know about but I've tried several varieties and they never work very well at all. I can't imagine there's something better than Gorilla Tape out there anyways. So have your boo-boo kit but if you want a real FAK the answer is lots and lots of Gorilla Tape and lots and lots of gauze.

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    5. I don't understand your issues with band aids. I frequently use them and leave them on for several days at a time. You have to use a quality cloth band aid, your're not using snoopy bandaids are you? And the wound area needs to be clean and dry meaning that you have to stop the bleeding first, duh. I am a mechanic and have torn, and cut my hands/ fingers to the meat (not paper cuts, not boo boos.) Wash it, stop the bleeding with pressure, dry it, apply anti biotic ointment. Then, without fingering up the adhesive, apply a decent adhesive bandage. Leave it in place for a few days even while exposing it to water, oils, hand cleaners and viola'...an uninfected now closed injury. I have half a dozen co workers that do the same thing and all will attest to the method.

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    6. The FAK allows for treatment of minor injuries that if you do not take care of can become a major problem such as infection. Many people have died because of minor cuts that were not properly treated and turned into a major infection.

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    7. Super Glue: My experance as a commerical fisherman. works when wet or bloody. keeps the wound tight and bacteria free. can be used with fabric to close larger wounds. it comes right after a lighter in any B.O.B. type bag.

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  2. I keep tweezers and a needle in my kiddie first aid kit, too. They seem to pick up splinters everywhere! Also, nail clippers and lip balm, which all get used on a regular basis. The nail clippers also work for trimming tags off new sneakers that must be worn NOW or stray stings from t-shirt hems. :-)

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  3. 2 thoughts..1. You can survive without a fak but then as they say "any idiot can be uncomfortable " and in a bad situation looking after minor injuries can save a lot of grief down the line...2. Have you considered packing anti-histamines? Help with stings and bites and if people have allergies

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  4. We all have personal-sized FAKs and larger ones in our cars - I have a small unit-scaled FAK I keep for scouting or group hikes.

    Band-aids are the most used item hands down. They are not junk for general use, but will often fall off under stress of hard outdoor activity. Kids get a huge morale boost just having a band-aid on a cut or scrape. Having a good set of tweezers is important, as are a few safety pins. I also keep a few throat lozenges in my FAK - not for medicinal reasons, but for comfort. If you are trying to keep quiet they will help quell a irritable cough pretty well. Single-use triple biotic is the next item to get used up - no sense risking infection if you don't have to. Immodium and tums are in there too, as are a variety of mild pain killers including aspirin.

    We've used contents from our FAKs a lot, never for dire emergency need, but simply a matter of general preparedness.

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  5. As a HS teacher, the most common things that students ask for are:
    1. Kleenex
    2. Band-aid
    3. Safety pin
    4. Advil/tylenol
    5. Throat lozenge

    I can't give 4 and 5 out. I keep all 5 things for my family and myself. Son has severe allergies so always an epi-pen on hand.

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  6. Foe a cheaper option to carry your First-Aid kit take a look at the zipper bags by Cumberland Concepts. They have tons of different colors (10) and 4 sizes; the small is $3, the medium is $4, the large is $5, and the x-large is $8. These might be a good choice for your needs.
    http://www.cumberlandconcepts.com/

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  7. I'm an EMT in New York City. I carry a maxpedition fr1 pouch which I switch between on duty and off duty. (maxpedition makes great products btw, a little expensive but the product won't fail). in my kit I carry bandaids, 4x4 and 5x9 gauze, 3 different size cling wraps, occlusive dressings (for penetrating injuries to neck, chest, or back), triangular bandage ( basically a bandana, can be used as a sling or more importantly a tourniket) aspirin, Tylenol, hand sanitizer, alcohol pads, water based lubrication (yea I know haha but it can come in handy to help get rings off swollen fingers before they swell too much, or even if you get stuck in a tight spot) I have a Houdini pro which is a glass breaker as well as a seatbelt cutter which you could potentially use to cut clothes. oh and I have a cold pack. as you might have noticed, I don't have tape, like someone else said the medical tape doesn't hold well. any injuries too big for a bandaid that is on an extremity or head I use my gauze and cling wrap then tuck in the end which will hold because of the pressure of the bandage. any injury to the body will get an occlusive dressing. Remember the most important trick to stop bleeding is direct pressure. once again this is for work and while I am off duty so things such as Tylenol I would keep for myself or family. sorry for any grammar errors or extra spaces, this was done on my phone. hope you enjoy

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