First Aid Kits

First Aid Needs

Think about your own personal needs and requirements as well as those who will be around you when choosing what goes into your first aid kit.. Every person has their own unique needs and their own set of capabilities, just review the content below as a as a starting point template to help you devise your own personal approach. You are responsible for your own needs, risk tolerance and outcomes, do what you need to do to keep you and yours safe. Check with your doctor to make sure that you’re not allergic to anything that you put into your emergency kits, and make sure that you know all of your family and friend’s allergies and other special needs.


Make sure you understand the risk factors to have and use these items, when to use them, how much and on who will you use them. This guideline is intended for high risk, life threatening situations, i.e. a disaster, where help cannot be relied upon or is unknown to be available in a timely manner. Medical treatment can be very risky and doing nothing can be very risky, you need to prepare and train yourself as best as possible so you then be able to make good choices.

Ready Made

Ready made first aid kits can be found anywhere but tend to be severely overpriced and they have no idea what your needs are. Most of the ones I’ve seen are woefully inadequate for anything but the tiniest cut and the quality of the components is so poor that I don’t think they will be too useful in a serious emergency. I shop and build my own kit that suits my needs. If I find a very nice pre-made kit that comes in a very nice pack then I will (and have occasionally) start with that and then extend and augment it to meet my personal needs.

Use waterproof bags (intended for camping but look like heavy duty zip lock bags) to keep various components dry and protected from the environment.

M3 Medic Bag - Closed

M3 Medic Bag – Closed

I personally like the “M3 Medic Bag” which is a water resistant design based on an effective U.S. Military Medic’s bag which is battle proven. There are other medic bags and even IFAKs (Individual First Aid Kit) so you can choose what suits you. This one is big enough to serve more than one person (it was intended as a platoon level bag originally) or multiple incidents on one person. It has an easy to access interior that covered by the top cover. Three internal compartments hold a lot of medical supplies.

M3 Medic Bag - Open

M3 Medic Bag – Open

There are larger and there are smaller bags, just think about what you’re likely to encounter, what your skill level is and how many people around you do you care about enough to want to help in case of an emergency. That will tell you the minimum size of bag that you’ll get.

The “M3 Medic Bag” is occasionally available already stocked full with medical supplies, but they are very difficult to find that way. Its much easier to get an empty one and stock it yourself with exactly what you want.

M3 Medic Bag - Unzipped

M3 Medic Bag – Unzipped

If you go with a MOLLE equipped backpack then it makes sense to make sure that your “M3 Medic Bag” has MOLLY straps to connect to the PALS webbing on your MOLLY backpack. My “M3 Medic Bag” has the MOLLY straps and it has a snap at the end of each strap so it can be detached from the main pack by just pulling the bottom of the pack outward to release the snaps then pulling the pack straight up to clear the PALS webbing. You could get your first aid kit off the main backpack in approximately one second or so.

Direct Amazon link: MOLLE Compatible Military Style M3 Medic Bag, Combat Medical Kit, Black

The one “M3 Medic Bag” that I ever found was nicely equipped (to start with, I then augmented it carefully) it is a MOLLE compatible nylon shoulder bag measuring approximately 9 1/2″ x 6″ x 7″ and contains over 135 items for combat trained medics. This would be an excellent starter kit for home, office or vehicle. It was only available in Red which I liked because it looks medical. Most of the “M3 Medic Bags” are military colored which are OK and certainly better than nothing (or better than a cheap kit) but given the choice I think I’d stick with red. 

Ingredients list: The pre-stocked kit I found contains over 230 items, including:

1Sterile Flushing Solution1Lip Treatment
2Tongue Depressors1Triangular Bandage 40”x40”x56”
1Hand Soap1EFA – First Aid Instructions
2Bandage Gauzes, 4”x4.1yds.6Safety Pins
1Elastic Bandage, 6”2Pairs Latex Examination Gloves
1BleedStop Bandage10Pain Relievers
4Sterile Sponges, 4”x4”1Pill Bottle
4Abdominal Pads, 5”x9”1Irrigation Syringe (maybe, it’s not standard)
1Eye Pad2First Aid Cream Packages
16Bandage Strips 1”x3”2Triple Antibiotic Packages
2Instant Ice Packs1Burn Aid Package
1EMT Shears, 7.25”2Tape, Rolls, Adhesive
1Stainless Steel Hemostat, 5”16Alcohol Wipes
1Pair of Tweezers15Iodine Wipes
1Suture Set15Antiseptic BZK Wipes
1Splint15Clean Wipes





So you can see that its a nice starting point that can be useful while you are augmenting it with additional supplies.

There are many other types of bags and perfectly good reasons for each being superior to all the others. I selected this on for me because it keeps everything contained efficiently in a relatively small bag.

Roll-up bags are great because you unroll the bag and can see everything at once but its on the ground and can lose items or get them dirty easily. I’m not concerned with memorizing the location of every item because I just won’t remember it years from now. Its better to have all the contents secure in a dirt and water resistant bag like the “M3 Medic Bag“.

IFAK (Individual First Aid Kits), specifically the military style zip up type are very nice and I would use one if I didn’t worry about anyone else. I do care about those around me so I carry something bigger than an IFAK.

Paramedic size medical bags are great but they are as big as my backpack and I can’t carry both so for me its just too big. The “M3 Medic Bag” is easily attached to a MOLLY style backpack or can even ride inside of an older style plain backpack. If I really want more supplies then I can get two “M3 Medic Bag” and still not take up too much room.

Having an “M3 Medic Bags” could also be good if you need to split up (which I don’t recommend) or if you have two injured or trapped persons that separately each need medical attention.

Regular Inventory Audit

Review your kits, audit them and add as needed every year, replace anything that is expired and refresh your First Aid, CPR and AED certification for you and all your family members at the same time. Check back here for new information, I update these pages as I learn new information.

Let me know if you have items in your kit that would be useful in mine.

Medical ID

In iOS 8, Apple introduced their new Health app, the most important feature for us here is Medical ID which is where we can put our emergency medical detained (allergies, special needs, etc.) as well as our preferred medical emergency contact. Emergency room staff are now trained to look for this information in your iPhone and can prove to be a real lifesaver. Its easy to enter your information (including allergies) so please take a minute right now to fill out your crucial information.  Medical ID: How to create in iOS 8 (and newer).

Level 1 First Aid Kit 

This is a basic BooBoo kit and should be with you at all times, you can make this kit so tiny that it fits in a purse or jacket pocket. This is intended to support the most common occurrences of need. Just enough to treat one or two people for one day might be enough to satisfy a Level 1 kit’s mission.

Level 1 First Aid Kit
Band Aids
Charcoal (food poisoning, gas, stomach discomforts, overdose)
Imodium (anti-diarrheal)
Pain reliever (Advil Liqui-Gel)
Butt Paste by Boudreaux (for: sunblock, diaper rash, skin irritations in general)
Betadine or Triple antibiotic cream
Sterile artificial tears
Chewable aspirin (chew four 81mg or one 320mg for heart attack, stroke or headache)
Benadryl gel
Toilet paper or substitute
Domeboro (for weeping skin irritations, Aluminum Acetate Astringent Solution) short shelf life

Advil Liquid-Gel (Ibuprofen) is particularly useful because it can be applied topically. My family surgeon told me that it works well topically on muscle aches as well as insect stings. We’ve tried it with great success. Just carefully cut open the tip of a gel capsule then squeeze and apply. If you are using a significant amount (ex: for muscle pain) then make sure to not exceed the total daily allowance as listed on the bottle for all gel-caps you take in topically and internally, all together, per day.

Another advantage of Advil Liquid-Gel (Ibuprofen) is that it works on a different method of pain relief and its not metabolized differently so it can be used in addition to Tylenol for double the pain relief. Our surgeon said that its safe to take both at the same time up to the limit for each as listed on its respective bottle. We have found that the combination is rather effective and is very useful in first aid situations. (We’ve even had to use it when someone broke their leg and had to wait for surgery, without having any prescription pain relief immediately available).

Water is included in the kit because its second in importance only to the air that we breathe. If someone has potential heatstroke or if there is a disaster where municipal water supplies are cut off, or someone has a fever or you need to wash a wound, whatever water you have with you will become a life saving supply. You should never underestimate the importance of pure drinking water.

Level 2 Kit First Aid Kit

In your home, each of your cars, attached to your bike and your place of business. At this level I’m thinking about what I can pack that will help our survival for an unknown length of time (for the number of people that are likely to be around me plus a little extra for my neighbors) where government services cannot be relied on to come to the rescue. We will have to made due and fix the medical problem problem as best we can ad hope for the best. We hope to be able to hang on long enough to get the person to more qualified care, so anything that extends this time will be helpful. Your skill level here is most important, the more emergency medicine courses you take, the more first aid books you read and pack into your kit) the more likely that you will be able to extend your survival until help can be found.

Keep in mind that if you have to Bug Out (evacuate) that you will want to take this kit with you and so size and weight do become a factor. Do practice a Bug Out occasionally via some mock drills to figure out if you can handle the size and weight of this kit in addition to everything else that is in your Bug Out Bag (BOB).

What’s in my bag? You really need to work out what your own needs are but here is most of what I have packed (I update each year). This list covers all my packs and scales up from my IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) to my Bug-In supplies at home. Notice that I didn’t mention a surgical kit anywhere. Unless you are an actual surgeon that is currently practicing, this is not likely to be of use to you, bandages, antibiotics, Imodium, charcoal, pain relievers and various other pills are the most likely to be needed and used in these situations. If you can afford a medical kit and hope that you could find someone that could perform the surgery for you, thats great. I’m just trying to help you set reasonable expectations. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Don’t forget to keep your First Aid, CPR and AED certification up to date.

  • Band-aids in various sizes from small to large, get at least several 1/2″ and 3/4″ wide strips
  • Charcoal capsules, many (excellent for gastric distress)(This is actually the second thing I put in my bag, its possible to counter the effects of ingesting poison or food that has gone bad. When there are no hospitals available this may be your ticket to survival. We also find it excellent for meals that make us gassy (take it after you digest your meal, so it doesn’t absorb needed nutrients). Think of activated charcoal as a universal sponge that can absorb many bacteria and toxic substances in your gastro-intestinal tract.
  • Sterile gauze pads, large (you can cut them down if necessary) I usually have 5″ x 5″ or 4″ by 4″ and can quickly cut them down to size
  • Sterile gauze rolls, two or more rolls (bandages) 5″ or 4″ wide rolls.
  • Sanitary Napkins make for good bandages in an emergency for more serious bleeding especially if help is unavailable
  • Non-Stick gauze pads (Telfa) to cover abrasions like road-rash, so they can be removed without sticking
  • CELOX First Aid Temporary Traumatic Wound Treatment (or Quikclot Sport Pack by Adventure Medical Kits or HemCon or WoundSeal) which is a powder you pour onto a bleeding wound and it promotes very rapid clotting (3-5 minutes) even if the subject has been taking prescription blood thinners). I chose CELOX because it has no clay dust that has to be cleaned out of the wound, it can be absorbed by the body and Celox works independently of the body’s clotting abilities. Direct pressure is still the prescribed method for treating a bleeding wound; at least three minutes of direct pressure is typically what’s called for. I carry Celox in case there are extenuating circumstances where I need to treat more that one person at a time or I just couldn’t get the bleeding on one person to stop. This would most likely be difficult areas like joints, etc. where I’m having difficulty apply continuous pressure. There is also “combat gauze” which has a similar compound already packed into the gauze. Celox is also available already impregnated in gauze bandages. While this may be convenient, it adds a specialty item that would rarely be used. A couple of packets of Celox and regular bandages is more versatile and more likely to be used.
  • Trauma Pads, essentially a thick gauze bandage, used with Celox to manage significant blood loss.
  • ACE (elastic, self clinging) bandages
  • Steri-Strip (various sizes) these are the modern replacement for butterfly bandages are longer, stick better and generally more useful. They have also taken over for sutures in the operating room very often. It looks like for our purposes that Steri-Strip is a better choice than actual sutures. Also include Compound Benzoin (in a pre-treated swab) in your kit, this product cleans the skin, makes the Steri-Strip stick much better (human skin is much oiler than we realize and the strips could fall off) and works as a mild antiseptic.

  • Barrier device for CPR like the Ambu Res-Cue Key Mini CPR Mask Keychains
  • Aspirin I pack chewable aspirin in case it appears that someone may be having a heart attack or stroke they could choose to take aspirin to try to minimize damage to their brain. Note that I could only find low-dose (81mg) chewable aspirin so they would have to take four to equal one tablet of regular aspirin. This is now considered to be an important life saving technique.
  • Imodium Loperamide Hydrochloride to treat diarrhea 
  • Disposable surgical style gloves, Nitrile (many people are allergic to Latex)
  • Flashlight (you can use the same one from your BOB)
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Alcohol, Isopropyl or alcohol wipes
  • Instant cold compress
  • Instant hot compress
  • Small bars of soap for cleaning wounds and washing your hands (Purell is not any more effective that a good soap washing)
  • Surgical superglue for sealing wounds when you run out of bandages or can’t stitch the wound closed (n-butyl cyanoacrylate, isobutyl cyanoacrylate, and octyl cyanoacrylate are updated medical grade superglue but in a disaster situation, regular Instant Krazy Glue could be considered) (I chose GLUture Topical Adhesive, 1.5 mL by Abbott Laboratories, comes with several applicator tips so it can treat multiple wounds or multiple people in a hygienic manner, is more flexible than hard drying superglues and dries clear) (trade names: MediBond, MediCryl, PeriAcryl, GluStitch, Xoin, Gesika, VetGlu, Vetbond, LiquiVet, Indermil, LiquiBand, Histoacryl, and others). Make are that the wound is super clean before you close it, clean water and soap will do in a pinch. Superglue will help prevent additional infection by keeping the wound closed so keep this in mind if you choose to attempt to suture the patient.
  • Paper tape (surgical tape) rolls, to adhere the pads or gauze in place
  • Scissors (Actually they should be EMT Shears and they should be at the top of the kit so you can cut through clothing rapidly.
  • Eye moisturizing drops (sterile artificial tears)/eye wash (can be used to rinse dirt or other foreign objects from the eyes), usually this is a sterile saline solution with a little eyeball lubricant in it. You can’t do anything if your eye is closed with grit in it. I think that since its sterile that it can also be use to irrigate wounds, if necessary, thus eliminating the need to carry two sterile liquids.
  • Needle for removing splinters. I prefer tweezers.
  • Anbesol Max Strength (or Orasol) for tooth or gum pain (its a 20% Benzocaine pain killer so it can multitask elsewhere)
  • Chap stick for everyone, if you suffer from cold sores then a Lemon Balm (essential oil) based treatment is essential (per Dr Oz)
  • Hydrocortisone cream (several tubes, if you walk through some plant based irritants, this may save your behind)
  • Advil Liquid-Gels (Ibuprofen) (since you will be out of your element, you could be experiencing more aches and pains than usual and under stress, everything is more annoying. Some folks go so far as to carry an ECA stack. Ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin. 200 mg of caffeine gives a little power jolt while the pain killers dull aches and pains from the hostile situation. Ephedrine is similar to adrenaline and is used in the field to give survivors a little more zip in their step. Personally I carry PainAid by Zee Medical. Having used it for over 20 years I just have not found anything that works better for emergency situation for me. One trick that my nurse told me was that in an emergency they have their patients take Advil and alternate it every two hours with Tylenol (Acetaminophen) because Advil is metabolized in the kidneys and Tylenol is metabolized in the liver. The most recent studies show that Tylenol is very rough on the liver (despite what you may have heard). Together, they have better pain relief than either one by itself. If I don’t have PaidAid (or don’t want to risk the blood thinning due to the Aspirin and Salicylamide components I use Advil. Another excellent use for Advil during an emergency is for topical application on muscles that are extremely sore. Since you might find yourself walking a lot or climbing over rubble or country terrain, its logical to expect muscle aches. Instead of taking Advil internally you could snip the ends of four Advil Liqui-Gels (gel caps) and rub it directly on the painful muscle. Its amazing effective and is available in a jar in Europe. I like to mix it with Arnica Gel which also provides relief for strains sprains and bruises. Dosage of Advil topically is the same as taken internally read the bottle) but its more effective when applied directly to a sore muscle so it can be focused on the problematic location.

PainAid Ingredients

Active ingredients (in each tablet)Purpose
Acetaminophen 110 mgPain reliever/fever reducer
Aspirin 162 mg (NSAID)*Pain reliever/fever reducer
Caffeine 32.4 mgPain reliever aid
Salicylamide 152 mg (NSAID)*Pain reliever/fever reducer * nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
  • Povidone-Iodine (Betadine) (This is what I’ve used as my primary antibiotic/wound care for decades and is recommended by doctors since its what they use for surgery. Get the individually wrapped swabs so you don’t have to travel with an open bottle. I use the liquid (in a bottle) to rinse/cleanse wounds then I place a bead of the gel/cream on the would to disinfect it before bandaging. A triple antibiotic ointment in a tube is usable if you don’t want to go with iodine.
  • Diphenhydramine HCL (Benadryl) Anti-histamine (preferably one that does not make you drowsy). Not only good for seasonal allergies, in a disaster situation can be used to treat swelling from insect stings, help promote sleepiness and calm rowdy children. Talk to your doctor now about how to do this safely. Some (rare) children have a paradoxical reaction to diphenhydramine and get hyper instead of sleepy.
  • Benadryl Gel for insect bites and allergic reactions to plants. According to the manufacturer: Temporarily relieves pain and itching associated with: insect bites, minor burns, sunburn, minor skin irritations, minor cuts, rashes due to poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.
  • Petroleum jelly (I prefer Aquaphor) Great for irritated skin and burns, my dermatologist highly recommends Aquaphor.
  • Burn gel, burn ointment, etc. I don’t actually carry a separate burn gel since I have Benadryl Gel, Aquaphor and Lidocaine.
  • Naproxyn Sodium (Aleve)
  • Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM)
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec OTC)
  • Clotrimazole 1% cream (Mycelex)
  • Potassium Permanganate Fire Starter, disinfectant
  • Epinephrine Inhaler (Primatene Mist) (not available in my area any more, find a suitable replacement)
  • Decongestant (careful to not get something that raises blood pressure, if anyone is sensitive)
  • Ki03 Potassium Iodate (in you live near a nuclear power plant and they experience a major leak) Follow the government’s instructions if they tell you to take them.
  • Sunblock SPF 30 or higher (get physical blocks such as zinc or titanium dioxide based products, avoid chemical based blocks because they wear out quickly (as short as 30 minutes). What do I carry? Butt Paste by Boudreaux (Yes its a cream for diaper rash. What it really is, is the strongest zinc oxide cream I could find on the market (16%). Zinc oxide is extremely soothing to irritated skin and some folks use it as an effective sunblock (zinc oxide is the best natural sunblock on the market) so it can be a multitasker and serve double duty to save space in your pack. Some folks are concerned that the higher the SPF rating the higher the risk for cancer (according to some studies). All those studies were done on synthetic sunblocks, there are none that state that all natural sunblocks made from only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both, have any problems at all.
  • Sunburn ointment. I don’t actually carry a separate burn gel since I have Benadryl Gel, Aquaphor, Butt Paste and Lidocaine.
  • Lidocaine or benzocaine cream (relieves pan and/or itching) I use Relax and Wax No-Scream Cream by Deborah’s Esthetics which is 20% Benzocaine (it works on everything I’ve tried it on so far), or you could go with VAGICAINE MAXIMUM STRENGTH cream by Meijer Distribution Inc. which has (benzocaine 20% for pain numbing and resorcinol 3% as an antiseptic.
  • Baking Soda for acid burns such as a car battery leaking onto a person at an accident site (a small amount mixed with water can neutralize excess stomach acid), Ginger root powder is also good for belly aches. Stomach acid increases when a person is highly stressed.
  • Cervical collar (neck brace)
  • SAM Splint (or a cheaper Universal Aluminium Splint/Universal Military Splint)
  • CAVIT (temporary cavity filling, in case a filling falls out to buy you a little time)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Butt Paste by Boudreaux (Yes its a cream for diaper rash. What it really is, is the strongest zinc oxide cream I could find on the market (16%). Zinc oxide is extremely soothing to irritated skin and some folks use it as an effective sunblock (zinc oxide is the best natural sunblock on the market) so it can be a multitasker and serve double duty to save space in your pack. ViscoPaste bandages are zinc oxide paste slathered onto a gauze roll. If you use your own gauze roll and apply Butt Paste you just saved 80% the cost of ViscoPaste and its readily available. I used this on my leg after a particularly bad outdoor encounter that blistered up my leg and arms very badly. It kept me cool and comfortable until I could get to my medical supplies and apply some DomeBoro to dry out the liquids in the blisters. Butt Paste by Boudreaux is also potentially a good substitute for Calamine lotion. Calamine is mostly Zinc Oxide with a tiny bit of Iron Oxide. Butt Paste has a much higher level of Zinc Oxide than any other product that I’ve ever found, we now can use this one product as a multi-tasker, save space in our packs and save money at the same time. I also like that you can get Butt Paste in small indestructible plastic tubes, so yo don’t worry about a broken bottle ruining your trunk and emergency pack, and being a thick paste, it stays in place and does not run down your body, like calamine lotion does. It also smells a lot better than calamine lotion.
  • Domeboro (generic Aluminum Acetate Astringent Solution maybe  easier to find) A must have to dry blisters and weeping skin conditions. Its a powder that you just mix a bit of water, wet a gauze with it and wrap the irritated are with it. A must have in my first aid kit, after I had a particularly nasty outdoors encounter with toxic pants. (After the blisters calmed down, I switched to Butt Paste.)
  • Poison Ivy/Sumac skin cleansing wipes (removes the sticky urushiol oils of poisonous plants, if you use it quickly enough). If you contact one of these plants, you want to don your medical gloves and wipe the area down carefully. With some luck you’ll avoid the agony of the plant’s toxic the sticky urushiol oil and the hassle of having to mix and apply Domeboro solution.
  • Thermometer, Disposable Forehead (Strips)
  • Tweezer, high quality to remove splinters
  • Sea Salt (not just for eating, you can put a little in water and swish it in your mouth and gargle, then spit it out, to act as a mild antiseptic. You can use it with clean (sterile) water to rinse out your nasal passages in case of sinus infection (you’ll need a Nettie Pot or you” have to McGuyer something similar on your own).
  • Duct tape: very useful for countless uses (to wrap bandages when you run out of proper bandages, and if you cover a wart with duct tape for six days take the tape off, take an emery board scrape the top of the wart off, then re-tape for six more days, repeat this three three times and the wart will die and fall off -Dr Oz)
  • Witch Hazel is good for treating hemorrhoids (Dr Oz).
  • Primatene Mist (Epinephrine Inhalation Aerosol USP spray) the only OTC spray for asthma, at the moment its nor available but the manufacturer has changed the propellent so it no longer contains CFCs and it will be back on shelves soon. Even if you don’t need it, this could be a very valuable trade item for someone in need.
  • Scalpels, disposable and sterile (these are for general use, and just in case you happen to stumble upon a surgeon and they need the to perform surgery on a victim). If you’re not medical trained, then you could do far more harm than good attempting surgery your self. Some folks carry razor blades but I prefer something sterile.
  • Hemostat for holding sutures while suturing and general purpose clamping. Make sure you sterilize tools forbore medical use
  • Insect bite swabs (I use Advil Liquid-Gels, squeezed onto bites so I don’t have to carry bite swabs)
  • Famotidine 20mg  (Pepcid, for acid reflux)
  • Space Sleeping Bag. Similar to a Space blanket but in the shape of a sleeping bag, this helps patients that need to be warm
  • First Aid books. Its OK to have a first aid guide in your phone, tablet or laptop but I always have an actual book to ensure that no tech failure will eliminate my only source of medical aid.
  • Consent forms for each family member
  • Medical history forms for each family member
  • If prescribed by your doctor, drugs to treat a serious allergic reaction/attack, such as an auto-injector of epinephrine (EpiPen, Twinject, others), plus other extra prescriptions for your family.
  • Airway. This is a useful toll but really only for those that know who and when to use it, which usually means trained medical personnel, however I included it in this list because this piece is starting to show up in the better First Aid Kits anyway.
  • Ammonia Inhalant (Smelling salts) to rouse an unconscious person.
  • Tourniquet. This is a highly controversial item.  When I first received my First Aid training (decades ago) we were trained in the use of tourniquets, however, some years ago the training changed radically when we were told that it is now believed that more limbs were being lost due to improper tourniquet use so it was no longer being taught. Now if you talk to certain groups of people, they will tell you that tourniquets are absolutely necessary. I did some more research and tracked down the source of all this chatter, through EMTs, Firemen, Police Officers and found that they were all getting their advice from soldiers returning from a war zone. Its true that for modern soldiers who wear protective body armor, their biggest threat is to their limbs and since they face the real threat of rather massive wounds, they really do need to use tourniquets on each other and they see this kind of action very often so they are experienced with it. We do not have this experience, its unlikely we will ever encounter such massive wounds so its unlikely that we would ever need it but, in a disaster scenario, maybe we should have one just in case, so we can decide at that moment if its worth the risk. Of course you could just use a belt or scarf, etc. so the choice is yours. The important thing is to learn now how to use one properly so you don’t do more harm them good.
  • Tegaderm Transparent Film Dressing, Picture Frame Style by 3M is a new product, a clear water resistant, breathable bandage so you can inspect the wound without uncovering it and it has chlorhexidine gluconate infused in it as an anti-bacterial agent. This is optional since we do not know how useful it is in  the field yet.
  • Emergency Bandage or Israeli bandage is a relatively new product that has been field tested for several years now. Its essentially a compression bandage that is effective at stopping serious bleeding in limbs and is easy to apply.

Acne tip: If you or anyone in your group is suffering from acne anywhere on their body and you don’t have any acne meds, you can make you own by taking some plain old fashioned aspirin, mashing it up with a tiny amount of water to make a paste and applying it directly to the problematic area.


How to make a splint, by The Survival Doctor

Natural Homeopathic Asthma Therapy

Natural Homeopathic Asthma Therapy

An alternative for Primatene Mist (until it returns to the store shelves, which could be some time on 2014) for persons that do not have prescription medication with them consider an off the shelf homeopathic therapy like the one pictured here. This particular one was taken by a childhood friend of mine recently, when she started having symptoms but did not have a rescue inhaler or any other meds with her. She found that it worked well and sent me this picture for your consideration. Of course, only yo can determine what will work for you so make sure that you work with your doctor to prepare the meds that are appropriate for your needs and the needs of your family. This particular product was found at a major pharmaceutical chain store.

Basics Of Wound Care  Nadine B. Semer MD, FACS Editor Hugh G. Watts MD (free, direct PDF download) for dire emergencies) Practical Plastic Surgery for Nonsurgeons NADINE B. SEMER, MD (free, direct PDF download) for dire emergencies)

Level 3 First Aid Kit

This level is for Paramedics, EMTs and Nurses. The average person just does not have the training to deal with the extreme situations and techniques at this level.  

How to Sterilize Instruments

In a disaster situation, you might have to perform a simple procedure on yourself or a loved one if no medical help is available and the risk is great. If you have taken your first aid classes then you know that providing CPR then stopping blood loss are the two most important things you can do but what about if you need to use some sort of medical tool or makeshift instrument to perform a procedure? A doctor or nurse would use an autoclave to sterilize their tools (which requires a power source, so even if you find one you probably won’t be able to get it running), or they could use some prepackaged sterile products (which is what I have in my kits), but if you don’t have either then you’re going to have to make do with what you have and sterilize the best you can. Before you sterilize, always clean any obvious debris off your instruments. Clean with soap and water or alcohol. Use a cloth or brush if needed. Now you may start the sterilization procedure.

Quick Sterilization

Heating the instrument. Hold the part that’s going to touch the injury over an open flame. If the handle is also metal, find something to hold the instrument with so you don’t burn your fingers. Heat until the metal turns red. Then let the instrument cool, and you’re ready.


If you don’t have fire and you’re in a hurry, you can wipe the instrument off with a clean cloth soaked in iodine, povidone-iodine (Betadine, which is my favorite) or alcohol. No clean cloth? Dip the instrument in the solution and stir it for ten seconds. This is the riskiest method listed here so please be careful to check the wound once you reach a safe place where you can take the time to treat the patient properly.

Deeper Sterilization

A good method for larger instruments or those that might melt under the flame is to boil them in water. Boil in water for 20 minutes. If no boiling water is available then soaking the instrument in a disinfectant for at least 20 minutes is better than just wiping it off. This disinfectant is now contaminated so keep that in mind if you are thinning of reusing it. Dress with sterile dressings and keep and eye on it for signs of infection that might require antibiotics. 


Antibiotics are one of modern life’s true miracles but in a disaster situation you will not have any for needed medical attention on hand because they must be dispensed by prescription. Some doctors are sympathetic and will give you a prescription so you can have some antibiotics in your emergency kit. In my area they are very strict and not sympathetic at all, which forces u sot consider alternatives to protect ourselves. What to do? This may sound odd but some folks order and stock their emergency kits with fish antibiotics from the internet, to put into their emergency kit. A very wide variety of antibiotics are available at low cost and its now known that they are in fact the same exact antibiotics that usually require a prescription to acquire. 

Fishmox - Amoxicillin

Fishmox – Amoxicillin

You’ll notice in the picture above that Fishmox capsules are exactly the same as the prescription capsules you get at your local pharmacy. Check it out for yourself.

Fishmox container

Fishmox label

I have an aversion to prescription medications, but if there was an acute need, I would take what was needed to survive. If you are in a disaster situation and you have an infected wound, you are in very serious trouble, without an ER, doctor, nurse, EMT or Paramedic being available, I would certainly seek out a veterinarian to treat me and if that was not possible I would take fish antibiotics.

Fish antibiotics might be the only way to survive, however, taking the wrong antibiotic or the wrong dose could make things so much more worse. You really need to understand that this is is a very desperate final measure and its risk is grave if not done properly. I still think that I’m a reasonably sensible person and would not take antibiotics in the field unless I found someone who could authoritatively tell me which one to take and at what dose. In that case, my having the antibiotics on hand could prove to be a life saver.

If I was desperate enough to dose myself because no medical help was around, I’d try checking Nursing2015 Drug Handbook (Nursing Drug Handbook Lippincott Williams & Wilkins first with the hopes of not doing more damage than the original problem. And of course you have to figure out which fish antibiotic correlates to human label antibiotics. There are also now free drug handbook apps for the iPhone, just search in the App Store and you’ll find them. It couldn’t hurt to have a copy on your phone with you at all times. Some are Lite Versions and some have in-app upgrade requirements, so do check them out ahead of time to make sure that they are usable for you in a time of emergency. I personally have a copy on my iPhone and a book version in my pack, just in case there is no internet connectivity at some point i the emergency situation.

The other risk you will be taking is that you could be buying fish antibiotics from an online fraudster who could be selling you worthless pills. I’d check with the online pill identifier to at least have some hope that it is the correct pill. As best as we know, no one is bothering to  make lookalikes of medications so a visual check of the product that you order could work.

Don’t forget to check expiration dates before you buy, when you receive them and once a year during your annual refresh. Avoid liquid antibiotics since they seem to not be able to last as long as pills. The FDA published a quiet little study performed on prescription medicines that were two to ten years old. They found that all of them maintained their medicinal potency. This means that the expiration dates on bottles are overly pessimistic. Check the study out for yourself here: Guidance for Industry Drug Stability Guidelines or Expired Medications – Are They Safe? Are They Effective? – Part 2 BY CYNTHIA J. KOELKER, MD

A fascinating study from the Archives of Internal Medicine verifies the long term efficacy of prescription medications, and in this case they tested medications that were up to 40 years old. The conclusion is that these medications maintained full efficacy so it seems that if we choose to take this risk, that we stand a good chance of the medications being effective enough to actually help us.

October 8, 2012 — An analysis of 8 medications indicates that most of the active ingredients they contain were present in adequate amounts decades after the drugs’ expiration dates, according to results from a study published online October 8 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Lee Cantrell, PharmD, from the California Poison Control System, San Diego Division, University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, and colleagues used liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to measure the amounts of the active ingredients in the medications. The medicines, which had expired 28 to 40 years ago, were found in a retail pharmacy in their original, unopened packaging. To meet US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, an active ingredient must be present in 90% to 110% of the amount indicated on the label. Drug expiration dates are set for 12 to 60 months after production, even though many compounds can persist far longer. In the new analysis, 12 of the 14 active ingredients persisted in concentrations that were 90% or greater of the amount indicated on the label. These 12 compounds retained their full potency for 336 months (28 years) or longer. Eight of them retained potency for at least 480 months (40 years). Dr. Cantrell’s team was unable to find a standard for homatropine, 1 of the 15 ingredients. Only aspirin and amphetamine fell below the 90% cutoff. Phenacetin was present at greater than the cutoff in Fiorinal (butalbital, aspirin, caffeine, and codeine phosphate, but was considerably less in Codempiral No. 3. The authors attribute the deficit in Codempiral to conditions that led to preferential degradation of phenacetin because of its amide group, compared with codeine, which is also in Codempiral but is more chemically stable. Three compounds persisted in greater than 110% of the labeled contents: methaqualone (in Somnafac), meprobamate (in Bamadex), and pentobarbital (in Nebralin). These relatively high amounts may reflect degradation of other components of the compounded drug, the fact that the samples were produced before FDA-instituted quality control measures in 1963, or inconsistencies of the analytical techniques between when the drugs were compounded and now. The new findings are consistent with the efforts of the Shelf-Life Extension Program, which has extended the expiration dates on 88% of 122 drugs tested so far. Extensions range from 66 to 278 months. “Our results support the effectiveness of broadly extending expiration dates for many drugs,” the researchers conclude. They also point out that extending shelf life can significantly lower costs to consumers. Limitations of the analysis, the investigators write, include an inability to confirm the storage conditions of the drug samples, as well as imprecise dating of the samples. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.  


Investigative Report: Everything You’ve Wanted to Know About Fish Antibiotics for Humans By The Survival Doctor July 2015

In this excellent report we have the latest research from The Survival Doctor, naturally being a doctor’s medical site the article is very conservative and directs the reader to get antibiotics from their doctor to store up for emergencies. Thats great advice and if you can do it by all means do so. As through as the article is, it misses the elephant on the room, which is that doctors no longer will give us a prescription to stock up on anything, even if we are paying for it with cash from our pocket (i.e. not from insurance) so we are left with nothing.

In a disaster situation, you are faced with a slow agonizing death, of yourself or a loved one what would you do? What them suffer a torturous death? Keep in mind that we have defined this as a disaster situation so by that definition there is no medical or other help to be had.

In that case you might be desperate for those fish antibiotics and be willing to try them, even if there is a risk that you purchased ineffective pills. It seems pretty obvious that if you buy one bottle, open it up and check the pills against the database and they match then its logical that you have the real deal and could order more with more confidence. Ultimately its your risk and you must make the decision yourself, no one else has the right to make that decision for you.

Emergency Financial First Aid Kit

Something simple (and free) that I’ve not seen people do is to put together an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK). When disaster strikes many people are instantly cut off from all their documents in their home, sometimes their homes are destroyed or inaccessible and the documents are needed for various reasons. FEMA has posted two excellent documents, along with simple check lists, to make the collection of the necessary papers simple and easy. Safeguarding Your Valuables Emergency Financial First Aid Kit Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit Avoid Loan Scams What to do immediately following a disaster Protect and rebuild your finances

Get Started!

The most important thing:

  • Commit to being prepared in some way
  • Make a plan for each location (Home, School, Work, Church and general travel)
  • Set aside time once a month to work on:
    • Building your kits
    • Practicing evacuation/exit drills
    • Checking kit contents (if they’ve been used, stuff will be missing, replace it all now).
    • Update plans
    • Update kit contents
    • Check expiration dates (prescriptions, food, water, meds)

Get to it right now and if you discover some great ideas please come back here and share your discovery, I update this site whenever I receive new and improved information, staying up to date is just as important as being prepared.