Survivalist first aid kits: What do I need?

 firstaidIn the modern world there are no shortage of threats to our personal freedoms and the society we live in. Terrorist attacks, the threat of nuclear war, global warming, or even far out apocalyptic scenarios that have found their way into the global consciousness. As such, preparation is something we all must consider in case the worst were to happen, and how we would protect our loved ones. Medical care is certainly a hot topic with that in mind, but what can you do to be ready for a major disaster?

First aid kits are very much the optimum way to prepare for potential medical situations in a state of emergency. They should have all the basic items that would be found in any household kit, but certain items are more vital than others.

What is included in an emergency first aid kit?

A cursory web search reveals that there are all kinds of different emergency first aid kits available, ranging from 70 piece to 150 piece kits for sale at varying prices. However, they all contain many of the same basic items:

Bandages – Varying sizes and shapes, for treating wounds, stopping bleeding, and generally treating small cuts and minor injuries. It is recommended that there is a substantial supply of dressings to cater for any possible scenario.

Disinfectant – Antiseptics to clean wounds and prevent infection. Alcohol can be used as substitute, but antiseptic wipes are certainly a more sterile solution.

Steri-strips/stitching kit – This varies somewhat, but generally there will be something available to use in order to close wounds that require stitches.


While you can buy first aid kits that contain a number of essential medical supplies, it is certainly advisable to customise your kit somewhat. For example, if you are on any prescription medicines, it is worth having at least 2 weeks’ worth of said medication ready for any potential emergency.  In addition general survival items, such as a Swiss army knife, or a pen knife can be very useful in conjunction with the contents of the pre-assembled first aid kit.

As obvious as it may seem, having clean water is something that should be considered when putting together a personalised first aid kit. Although your survival preparations will likely have encompassed stockpiling bottled water, having the ability to turn dirty water into clean drinking water is certainly worthwhile, especially in case your water supply becomes contaminated. Water purification tablets, or a Lifestraw will allow you to have access to clean water regardless, and as such should appear in any survivalist kit.

Of course there are a multitude of options for creating the ultimate first aid kit, and the more you can have available the better. Inevitably it is nearly impossible to plan for every eventuality, but having the basics available in ready-made kits, as well as a few essentials of your own, should allow you to adapt no matter what the situation is, and be ready to survive the worst of whatever you have to endure, safely and without the worry of running out of supplies.

Author bio: John Summers is a blogger and advocate of preparedness who writes here for Falcon Industrial, an online retailer of first aid kits and other safety related products.


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13 thoughts on “Survivalist first aid kits: What do I need?”

  1. The biggest killer in without the rule of law situation is infection. Most first aid kits pay homage to that by giving you 5 alcohol wipes and five betadine wipes. This is just downright silly. That’s not enough to sanitize a cut that’s an inch long. Not to mention sanitizing any implements that you may be using such as tweezers forceps or your pocket knife or reusable scalpel. none of the first aid kits have anything in them to sanitize water for cleaning the wounds or 4 liquid replacement 4 bleeds because before you consider giving IV fluids you try and get it down the oral way. Much less invasive. This is an area of first aid which is ignored , and it may be the most important area of first aid. What happens if a little tiny scratch gets infected same thing as a partial amputation. You lose a limb. Cleanliness is the one thing that always suffers in a WROL situation. Just thought I’d add that to your article. You do a good job , and I enjoy the articles you wright.

  2. As for sterile water, I like using the 4 oz. emergency mylar water pouches you can buy at most preparedness stores and sites. These are sterilized water with a shelf life of 5 years (but most of us know that sterilized water stored in mylar pouches away from light and air don’t really expire). Just open them up and let the water aerate to bring back the normal water taste. I use them in place of “blue ice” when packing a cooler. They freeze up great and don’t make everything soggy when they melt. This allows my food to keep cold plus gives me emergency drinking water and gives me sterilized water for injury treatment. I keep them in my First Aid and Emergency Kits.

  3. Try to get the opportunity to visit with your Volunteer or City EMT/Paramedic and see what they have in their bags. Sure, they are more highly trained, but they know exactly what they need to respond to emergencies in real time. You can spend a fortune buying a bunch of surgical gear and complicated tools that you will not have the training to use, or could seriously hurt someone else trying to use. Just get the basics and keep different levels of care kits. I have a small one for the normal scrapes and bumps. Another one for splints, burns, and other traumas. Finally, my real emergency kit has the Ambu bag, stitching, O2 tank, IV meds, anaphylactic shock, etc. We feel very lucky to have doctors and nurses in our group who can step in for serious stabilizing techniques as needed. Plus, they give some great First Aid classes!

  4. From my post 20 OCT 12 :

    For the benefit of any folks new to the preparation community, I will type out some of the most important items to stock. Offhand, I don’t recall the survival physician that originally published this list. Suffice it to say, these are not my recommendations, but rather those of someone with a clinical background: Ibuprofen/Aspirin/Acetaminophen (Pain reliever/fever reducer), Dipenhydramine/Benadryl (Antihistamine), Imodium/Loperamide (Antidiharreal), Ranitidine/Famotidine/Cimetidine/Omeprazole (Antacid), Pseudoephedrine (Sympathomimetic), Dramamine (Nausea/Motion Sickness), Bacitracin/Neosporin (Antibiotic), Hydrocortisone Cream (Corticosteriod), Clotrimazole/Miconazole (Antifungal). These were the doctor’s top medicines to stock for long term crisis. I added a few of my own necessities: Milk Of Magnesia (Constipation), Oragel/Ambesol (Toothache), Pepto-Bismol (multiple stomach conditions: acid, nausea, diarrhea), Lidocaine (Topical Anesthetic), Multivitamin and Vitamin C.

  5. The Survivalist First Aid Kit article was interesting – however those who entertain such a kit would be wise to realize the very optimal way to prepare for potential medical emergencies in any given situation is first the training and learned and gained experience in application for various situations.
    Equipment and supplies are secondary to experience as very much may be accomplished with very little in trained hands.
    A recommendation is to systematically pursue obtaining both instruction in and application for both life and non-life threatening events. It cannot be expressed stongly enough that each person that is able should be gaining as much and as varied training in as many “first aid” applications as possible.
    Without the knowledge base – supplies, time and recovery from injury would likely be wasted.
    Best would be to actively seek an already experienced person to include in a disaster recovery team – trauma/ER nursing, EMT, physician with trauma/ER, military medic, surgical nurse.
    Realize that NOT everyone in the medical field is qualified nor able to be effective in a disaster and should be vetted beforehand if at all possible.
    Regarding medication – Persons with necessary-for-survival (essential meds) should obtain at minimum a year of such – not two weeks. The pharmaceutical industry is just as fragile as every other system. Currently there are frequently medications which are in short supply or unobtainable – for a variety of reasons. There are several methods to very legally obtain essential medications in reasonable amounts. Storage for most medications should be in dedicated refrigeration – as this will greatly decrease decomposition.
    Last – the medication list by Irish-7 is a good beginning.

  6. As much as I like the article, I really like the comments. I will add that I have a few extras in my first aid kit in addition to everything added here. 😉 I have CERT training, First Aid, CPR and AED training as well. The additional items aren’t all that exciting, either, but they are important to me. Benadryl in two forms – pill and gel for allergies and bites. I know someone mentioned the pill form above, but the gel form is important, too. If you don’t have a First Aid booklet, I suggest you have one on hand, too. It may not help in an arterial bleed situation, but if you need to splint a broken bone, it will be invaluable. Besides, you can read it when you are bored. Also, have a thermometer and covers. I also have ear protection and lip balm.

    Regarding anyone wanting to stockpile essential medications, most insurance companies won’t allow this. I know my insurance company will only allow me to have one month at a time. However, there are alternatives. Consult your doctor about having backup medications which could work in a pinch. For example, if you take anti-epileptic meds, in addition to your regular Depakote (or whatever you regularly take), perhaps you could have a script filled out for Keppra as a backup. Get the idea?

    I hope these ideas also help. The other ideas are helpful to me, too. I really appreciate them.

  7. The one thing I found missing was good old fashion soap. For minor cuts and abrasions, as well as removing oils (poison ivy, etc…)washing is an inexpensive first line to any situation.

  8. The postings for a “first aid kit” have been of interest with some of them of concern.
    Only FYI and substantiation: my training/experience has been rather extensive both in years (13 in training and (37) “on site application” years in in Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, on site in Mexico missions to the “shack” and “garbage dump” patients; Haitians just after their earthquake; “under the bridge – (literally)” patients in Corpus Christi and Austin, Texas; and male and female inmates in Texas. So you may take the offered information for what it may be worth.
    There will be differences of professional opinion among health care individuals as to correct and proper diagnosis and treatments due to many factors – mainly what is called “standard-of-care” recommendations from our various state and federal licensing boards.
    1. You might ask your physician/pcp for a written prescription for your medications to mail to Canada for “backup”. And let your pcp know why. Such as for disaster backup.
    2. You should ask your pharmacist what the most distant date of effectiveness is for your medications – assuming they are refrigerated they may well last much longer than the “expiration date”. Most medications have a “half-life” of reasonable effectiveness and potency and many are able to be “stored” to enable extension of said effectiveness/potency.
    If you do obtain your necessary medications in greater quantity then you should ROTATE them – first in-first out.
    3. ONLY ONLY ONLY utilize different medications in the same class IF your pcp/pharmacist agree. DO NOT change/stop taking or utilize another persons “similar” medication. You risk significant adverse side effects if you do not.
    4. Contrary to much anecdotal information on the Internet – herbs/minerals/vitamin supplements/and any other “wonder” preparations are just that – anecdotes (personal stories of some sort of verification/effectiveness). Whether you agree or do not agree with the pharmaceutical companies/FDA – usually much time and money is allocated to determine the many qualifications necessary to approve use of pharmaceuticals in humans. There are too many such stories of success with alternates that FAIL in the light of accurate measurement to list – in my own experience.
    5. Please do not assume you can read a book and – somehow – vicariously know what to do in a disaster/survival situation. You can gain the experience – but gradually. Audit classes, take available online courses in anatomy/physiology/pharmaco-therpeutics/trauma – especially trauma.
    Begin with CERT, American Red Cross training, volunteer in an ER (if allowed in your community) – ask pcp, emt/ems, nursing, military medics; for help. Most are very willing to teach – if asked correctly.
    Read and obtain reasonable supplies in case there is a trained person available who will need those supplies.
    Last – everything (that reads EVERYTHING) is contaminated with bacteria/virus/fungus/spores unless labeled and dated as “sterility guaranteed unless opened”.
    Soap is great – but the water, your hands, the bandages/ointment/environment may well not be sterile.
    Also FYI – there are no companies or any government agencies with which I have affiliation.
    Hope this is of assistance and email if there are individual questions or concerns.

  9. These are the most basic and minimum items which we carry along with us and these can give maximum efficiency in case of any emergency. Thanks for the post !!!

  10. My experience is that commercial FAKs are heavily biased towards things like small cuts and scrapes. I suggest putting your own together from your local drug store.

    Do your research. Decide what injuries you expect to encounter. What resources do you really need to handle these injuries in the field? Use something like “NOLS: Wilderness First Responder” as a guide.

    How long do you expect to be away from professional medical care? Are you hours away, days away or do you assume it simply won’t be available?

    What level of training do you have regarding the treatment of said injuries?

    That will tell you exactly what your FAK will need. And of course everything else that has been posted here.


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