When we talk about first aid kits, we often think in terms of emergency supplies we’ll carry on ourselves everyday should we have a medical emergency when hiking, backpacking, flying on a plane, or doing any other potentially risky activities. Today, however, we won’t be talking in terms of specific emergencies to have particular first aid kits made for, but in terms of more of the general: what supplies you can have at home that could really help you or a loved one out if a tough medical situation happens in your own home.
We’ve done lists like this on More Than Just Surviving before. Being a survival blog, the best example we’ve got of a massive list post like this is our Ultimate Survival Gear List. There we explained that the items listed would likely not all be ones you’d choose to have for yourself. You might want multiples of a few items, or one of each of the items on the list, or really not very many of what’s listed at all; the point of that article was to be as comprehensive as possible, so that in case there was something it never occurred to you would be worth keeping, you’d be able to consider if you wanted it at home. Well that’s exactly what we’re doing on the topic of first aid today.
The people who would benefit most from a list like this: preppers for certain. People who are trying to stock up on things that would help them in case of an emergency situation, or even an end of the world, shit hits the fan kind of situation. To sustain life after a collapse, under harsh conditions without the ability to resupply or seek third party assistance – this is hard to do, but if it’s something you want to be able to do, you’re going to need a lot more kit than just your regular buy-at-the-market first aid supply kit.
We all get sick (at some point) and in a really shitty situation, the chances of us getting an infection or breaking a bone rises exponentially. To that effect, I think we should take a serious look at our tool kits and seek to address discrepancies with what we think we would need as opposed to what we would actually need in dire situations when help is either not coming or it’s not coming quickly enough.
The most important tool is obviously knowledge, but if you’re in the market for that, you’ve got the wrong article, as you should be browsing over our list of best first aid books. Assuming you’ve got some of the groundwork laid and know a thing or two about first aid, you are in the right place, as we’ll be discussing everything you likely could ever want at home to deal with a bad medical situation.
This list is broken down into two major sections: medications to stock, and situation specific kits you would ideally keep in your home. Both these sections then have particular subsections in them, though because it’s only two main sections, we’ve decided to just number these subsections straight through as though they were in just one group. If you’ve got a little bit of everything from each of the subsections, I’d say you’re pretty set. Certainly pick and choose what you feel is best to have for your own peace of mind at home. As I said, I know not everyone will want to keep everything here in stock (though I will be aiming for hitting as many items on this list personally), I just wanted to make sure this list was as comprehensive as possible so that in case you’re redoing your traveling first aid kit, or your at home first aid kit, you can look over this list and know you probably haven’t missed much if you’ve got all you want off of this behemoth.
Yes, I almost certainly have forgotten something. Yes, your recommendations are very welcome and this list will eventually be amended to add anything forgotten. If you have any words of wisdom for us, leave them in the comments below. They will certainly be greatly appreciated, not just by us, but by anyone who wanders this way looking for some good supplies for their first aid kits – home or everyday carry style.
Caveat: If you suffer from a chronic condition, seek specialized solutions. Period. Nothing written here should ever replace or take precedent above the advice of your doctor or medical practitioner. The same goes for sufferers of specific debilitating diseases or conditions that require less mainstream solutions.
Secondary Caveat: Yes, some people are allergic to insulin, others to the latex found in gloves, and a slew of other things on this list, but I’m going to include things on here that you or someone you know may be allergic to because they’re helpful to have around for everyone else who isn’t allergic. Obviously, know your allergies and the allergies of those around you, and if you’re unsure ask before helping whether an allergy exists.
Now let’s get into it.
1. Specialized Medicine
- Insulin & Metformin
Type 2 diabetes is common and if you or a family member suffers from it, I would strongly look into long term solutions in terms of stocking up on these medications for yourselves.
- Beta Agonists (like Ventolin)
For those who suffer from asthma. Again, if you or someone you know suffers from this – you need to get on buffing up a good stock of this medication ASAP. Buy it as you need it is a pretty poor strategy in a collapse situation, and even in an emergency.
- Antihistamines (like Loratadine)
(ex. Kirkland Signature Non Drowsy Allerclear Loratadine Tablets)
For dealing with allergies. You can also use the sleeping aids listed right after this, as they are simply re-purposed first generation antihistamines which had drowsiness as a major side effect.
- Doxylamine Succinate
(ex. Kirkland Signature Nighttime Sleep Aid)
To deal with insomnia and other sleeping disorders as well as allergies and the common cold. First generation antihistamines are extremely versatile.
(ex. GoodSense Nasal Decongestant Phenylephrine HCl)
For nasal and sinus congestion.
- Epinephrine Pen
Definitely a must have for those with conditions that require it (i.e. those who have anaphylaxis during extreme allergic reactions).
(ex. Amoxfin.com AmoxFin)
A controversial topic and the jury is still out on its risks. If you use it, there’s a potential for the infection you’re trying to cure to be beaten down temporarily and yet make a comeback, but with the added fun of antibiotic resistance. Personally, whilst I would rather go to the doctor for human grade medicine, I would rather use this than have nothing (if we’re talking about a situation where you can’t get help – again, prepper SHTF/TEOTWAWKI situations). Its easy to talk about the optimal solution when society’s still on it’s feet, but when there are only bad choices – pick the best one. My 2 cents on this particular issue of veterinary antibiotics.
- Ammonia Inhalant
(ex. Dynarex Ammonia Inhalants)
To deal with fainting and general lightheadedness – commonly referred to as respiratory stimulants.
- Oral Rehydration Salts
(ex. TRIORAL – Oral Rehydration Salts ORS)
To deal with water absorption after diarrhea and fatigue after extreme physical exertion and stress (Electrolyte replacement).
Penicillin is the time tested reference for antibiotics. It fights bacteria in your body and its historical lineage means that information regarding side effects and dosage are easily available and thoroughly vetted after so many years of common usage. Be aware that some people are allergic to Penicillin based antibiotics. Hard to get in my neck of the woods without a script. Please note that even if you can get your hands on some – you should be aware of storage conditions.
2. Topical Supplies
(ex. Dettol Topical Antiseptic Liquid)
Antiseptics are used to reduce the chance of catching a nasty infection on an open wound. They are antimicrobial and used in surgical application and for general wound cleaning to reduce risk of sepsis, putrefaction, and, as I just mentioned, infection (which is the most common). Extremely versatile stuff.
(ex. Burn-FIX- 2 Pack-Burn Care Treatment & First Aid Hydrogel Dressing)
To deal with first and second degree burns. More severe injuries will require extensive work with regards to dealing with dead tissue and pain.
- Hydrocortisone Cream
(ex. Hydrocortisone Maximum Strength Ointment 1%)
Itches, irritations, inflammation, and rashes.
- Anti-Fungal (like Clotrimazole)
(ex. Family Care Clotrimazole Anti Fungal Cream)
Extremely important, especially for long-term survival. In crappy situations, the environment is what kills. Not direct threats. Look at all available examples of social collapse and the resulting chaos, especially the Balkans as a perfect example.
- Emollients (like E45 & Oilatum)
(ex. E45 Dermatological Cream Treatment for Dry Skin Conditions & Oilatum Cream)
To help alleviate the symptoms of Dermatitis which includes Eczema.
- Anti-Bacterial Soap
(ex. Hibiclens Antiseptic/Antimicrobial Skin Liquid Soap)
As above with the anti-fungal, keeping hygiene levels to a current Western standard is a monolithic task without the grid up and running. At least keep anti-bacterial soap handy for times you really need it.
(ex. Banana Boat SPF 15 Sunscreen Sport Performance Sun Care Sunscreen Lotion)
I know it’s not common to suggest, but many people have extreme reactions to direct sunlight and in an environment where you really depend on your physical condition for survival, I think sunscreen is an obvious recommendation. Getting an SPF of over 15 is useless (don’t believe me? Watch this video). Much more cost efficient to buy SPF 15 and reapply as many times as needed, so stick to SPF 15 when buying sunscreen.
- Bug Spray
(ex. Repel 94101 6-Ounce Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent 40-Percent DEET Pump Spray)
Yes, DEET is horrible stuff, but (in worst case scenarios) between having insects laying eggs in open wounds and the side effects on DEET, I know which one I would pick.
- Topical Decongestant & Analgesics
(ex. Vicks VapoRub Cough Suppressant Topical Analgesic Ointment & Tiger Balm White Ointment HR Pain Relief)
Vicks is the obvious choice, but personally I am a convert to Tiger Balm. I love the stuff.
3. Gastronomic Medicine
- Calcium Carbonate
(ex. Tums Antacid Chewable Tablets)
A safe remedy with no tangible side effects to deal with heartburn and indigestion.
- Bismuth Subsalicylate
(ex. Pepto Bismol 5 Symptom Digestive Relief Medicine, Upset Stomach and Diarrhea Relief)
To deal with the bulk of gastro ailments from indigestion to diarrhea.
- Loperamide Hydrochloride
(ex. Kirkland Signature Anti-Diarrheal Loperamide Hydrochloride)
Also known as Imodium (which I personally carry everywhere). For when the shit really hits the fan. Sorry, guys. Couldn’t resist.
4. Pain & Inflammatory Medication
(ex. GoodSense Ibuprofen Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer Tablets)
Also known as Advil. For inflammatory pain. *Do you know whether to use Advil, Tylenol, or Aspirin?
- Acetylsalicylic Acid
(ex. GoodSense Coated Aspirin Pain Reliever Tablets)
Also known as Aspirin. Part anti-prostaglandin (which reduces fever, general pain relief, and inflammation) and part anti-platelet agent (which acts as a blood thinner). *Do you know whether to use Advil, Tylenol, or Aspirin?
(ex. Kirkland Signature Extra Strength Acetaminophen)
Also known as Tylenol. For headaches, fevers, and minor aches/pain. Increase your resistance to feeling or sensing pain. *Do you know whether to use Advil, Tylenol, or Aspirin?
(ex. GoodSense All Day Pain Relief Naproxen Sodium Caplets)
General cramp relief. Very popular for menstrual cramps.
Depending on where you live, you likely won’t be able to get your hands on this. It’s a restricted substance where I live and in most of the West. When my right lung collapsed in 2007, I was proscribed codeine for the pain during the recovery time after I had a chest drain. This stuff works extremely well in high dosage. I stopped taking it after 2 days and had quite a few pills left over which went straight into my bug out bag.
Situation Specific Kits
5. Cuts, Wounds & General Trauma Kit
Strongly advise having a mini version in a separate, easy to get location.
(ex. Swan 99% Isopropyl Alcohol Antispetic Solution)
My advice would be to get the strongest stuff you can and dilute as needed. Look for 99% Isopropyl Alcohol Solution.
- EMT Shears
(ex. Prestige Medical Fluoride Scissor)
Also known as trauma shears. Designed for its purpose from the ground up. Some people rock regular scissors and I cannot emphasize how much of a bad idea that is. Trauma shears will shear through clothes without running the risk of cutting your patient.
(ex. 1806 Sponge Curity 2’s Gauze Sterile Cotton 2×2″ 8ply)
Inexpensive and far safer to use than random cloth. Some preppers have opted to pre-cut sheets of cotton fabric as a replacement. For long term survival, this is a fine option, but whilst its easily (and cheaply) available, I would rather use the right tool for the right job.
- Super Glue
(ex. Loctite Super Glue Liquid 10-Gram Longneck Bottle)
I’ve spoken about using super glue to seal cuts before, so if you’re interested in an in-depth rundown, check out the article here. If you just want to know when it’s appropriate to use stitches vs bandages vs super glue, go here. I point blank will not go for the “medical grade” super glue for sealing cuts. It’s functionally the same as Loctite, and frankly, as someone who gets cut a lot due to this sharp things hobby of mine (knives, knives, knives) – I think “regular” non-medical super glue works amazingly well. The Loctite Longneck option has the best bottle, in my opinion, for dispensing of super glue without waste.
- Butterfly Strip Stitches
(ex. 3M Steri-Strip Adhesive Skin Closures)
Also known as steri-strips. Personally I never liked the stuff, as I always preferred either legit stitches that will stay in place or superglue that creates a bacteria free shield. Then again, being in situations where this is the better choice would no doubt change my mind.
- Gauze Bandages
(ex. Medline NON25865h Bulkee II Sterile Cotton Gauze Bandages)
In my opinion, this is my preferred option as opposed to the sticky stuff. Stays on safely with clips (listed below), allows re-positioning and, in my experience, is far more breathable.
- Gauze Clips0
(ex. Elastic Bandage Clips, Elastic Style, MCR Medical)
Make sure you get the elastic ones as they allow a degree of flex that will be required for body parts that move. Can’t choose where you get cuts!
(ex. Band-Aid Brand Comfort-FlexAdhesive Bandages Variety Pack)
The bulk packs are far more economical and useful not just for cuts but for general wounds that you want to protect from your environment.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
(ex. Swan Hydrogen Peroxide Topical)
Unlike most antiseptics, this is perfectly viable for oral use (rinsing and gargling).
(ex. QuickClot Combat Gauze Z-Fold)
Yes, the combat ready z-fold is expensive, but this is something that has changed battleground medical response dramatically. This stuff works people. It’s an extremely effective (almost magical) hemostatic agent. There is literally no better option for extreme trauma. Period.
- CPR Mask
(ex. MCR Medical CPR Rescue Mask Adult/Child Pocket Resuscitator)
I hope we all know how to perform CPR. If not, look into taking a class! Available in most towns for free. This is literally a lifesaving skill and a CPR mask makes performing CPR much easier.
- Asherman Chest Seal
(ex. Rusch Asherman Chest Seal)
Also known as ACS. It’s the standard option for large traumas from knife and gun shot wounds. It seals the cavity whilst allowing air and blood escape. There is no safe DIY alternative, so this is a must-have in my opinion; especially taking into account the risk of tension pneumothorax.
- Hand Sanitizer
(ex. Avagard D 3M Healthcare Sanitizer Hand Gel with Moisturizer)
You could use alcohol with the same efficacy, but the medical stuff also adds emollients so you retain supple skin. Not a must have in my opinion, but it’s a good option to have nonetheless.
- Israeli Bandage
(ex. Ever Ready Israeli Bandage Battle Dressing First Aid Compression Bandage)
Israeli Battle Dressing. Time tested in one of the most violent regions of the world. Fantastic for hemorrhage control.
- Telfa Pad
(ex. Kendall/Covidien Telfa Non Adherent Pad Prepack)
High quality wound care and general dressing.
- Duropore Tape
(ex. Durapore 1″ Surgical Tape)
Very versatile and easy to use thanks to bidirectional tearing.
- Transpore Tape
(ex. 3M Transpore Clear 1-Inch Wide First Aid Tape)
Also known as surgical tape.
- Burn Dressing
(ex. First Aid Only 4″ X 4″ Water Jel Burn Dressing)
For immediate emergency application. Be aware of shelf life.
- Hemostatic Bandages
(ex. AllaQuix Stop Bleeding Pad Professional-Grade First-Aid Hemostatic Gauze Blood Clotting Bandage)
Basically if Quikclot and Bandaid ever had kids. For the smaller stuff, it’s great, and if you are on the move it allows you to quickly patch up and keep going.
- Duct Tape
(ex. Duck Brand 1303158 Metallic Color Duct Tape)
I don’t think I have to tell you the potential uses duct tape offers. It’s cheap and you can do pretty much anything with it.
(ex. Recon Medical Tourniquet Gen 2 Combat Application Military Issue Army Hemorrhage Control)
Yes, you can make your own, but in an ideal world, using the purpose designed stuff is simply far superior (and more comfortable) due to even application of pressure without excessive trauma to the skin and flesh.
- Oil Emulsion Dressing
(ex. Sammons Preston CURAD Sterile Oil Emulsion Gauze Dressing)
Cards on the table – I have never used the stuff. With that said, some people swear by it, as it offers advantages with regards to breathability.
- Eye Wash/Flush Solution
(ex. PhysiciansCare 24-101 Eye Flush Solution)
Ever had something stuck in your eyes? How about accidentally rubbing your eyes after handling unclean or unsafe materials? Now imagine no running water.
- Muslin Triangular Bandage
(ex. First Voice TS-3680 Latex Free Triangular Bandage with Safety Pin)
Basically used for slings, compression bandages, tourniquets, etc. Very, very versatile stuff.
6. Diagnostic Kit
(ex. Veridian 08-352 60-second Digital Thermometer)
I know I am linking to an electronic device, and for those of you who don’t like having those around in case you’re in a SHTF situation with no power and where batteries are hard to replace, well you won’t be happy. Frankly, though, I find electronic thermometers far more accurate & easy to use than the alternative. Yes, long term it’s not ideal, so if you want to have a traditional/not electricity dependent option, then by all means. With that said, they are super inexpensive, more durable than the glass ones, and the battery life is pretty extreme, so I’d have one of these, too. I have one that has seen sporadic use, and it’s still rocking 3-4 years in. Only reason I got a new one is because I left pretty much all my kit in Canada and we recently moved and had to start from scratch.
(ex. Omron Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope)
With all diagnostic tools, you will need the relevant knowledge, not just to use them, but to accurately interpret the results. Definitely true of a stethoscope.
(ex. Doctor Mom Original Pocket Otoscope)
Also known as an Otoscope. Very useful for identifying infections and compacted ear wax.
(ex. MDF Calibra Aneroid Sphygmomanometer Professional Blood Pressure Monitor)
Also known as a blood pressure monitor. The one linked is not dependent on electricity – something to think about.
- At-Home Diagnostic Kits
Talking really long term survival here. Allergy testing kits do have their place, though personally, I wouldn’t recommend them for your medical hoard. Yes, preppers would argue knowing if you have a nut allergy could save your life in a fractured society, but I would argue that you should know this before any sort of SHTF situation. Those kits are expensive (for the good ones) and I think the money is better spent elsewhere (especially in the trauma category), as I believe any SHTF situation would be temporary (up to 5-10 years) whilst society rebuilds. Humans are resilient after all. I only mention at-home diagnostic kits here because I see them being listed as a must-have on various forums and prepper blogs, and I felt the need to address this. I understand that a kid born into or growing up in a post collapse society would be at risk from shellfish, nuts, etc., but I think being cautious when introducing new foods (small amounts) that have common extreme reactions amongst those who are allergic to them is a perfectly adequate way of dealing with the threat.
7. Fracture Kit
- SAM Splint
(ex. Dynarex First Aid Universal Aluminum Splint)
Universal splint. Much like a lot of the items on my list – this could be DIY’d, too, but I would prefer (in a high stress environment) to have the proper stuff available on hand without the need to tinker. The idea that I would turn to Elise who is immobilized with a fracture and say – “Give me a few darling. Gotta go gather some sticks and rig something up with duct tape,” is frankly madness.
(ex. Medline Cool Mesh Arm Sling)
Yes, again, you could make your own, but the mesh ones are lovely – especially in hot weather. I speak from experience here.
- Orthopedic Cast Plaster
(ex. Dap Plaster of Paris Box Molding Material)
Yes, the one I linked to is not from a medical supplier, but I assure you, it’s the same stuff.
- Plaster Splints
(ex. BSN Medical Specialist Plaster Splints X-Fast Setting)
Needs no description really. You could make a viable cast without them, but it would be risky.
- Cotton Undercast Padding
(ex. Webril 2059 Cotton Undercast Padding 3″ x 12′)
Needed to make a proper cast after you have reset the fracture. Despite what some online may tell you, this is not debatable in the real world, as comfort & adhesion require a bedding of undercast. Period.
8. Dental Kit
- Instruction Book
(ex. “Where There is No Dentist” by Murray Dickson)
I strongly advise against messing about with your chompers without reading up on it first. Deciding to go Rambo on your fangs with some forceps without knowing what you are doing is only going to end in disaster.
- Oral Analgesic Gel
(ex. Oral Analgesic Gel Maximum Strength 20% Benzocaine)
I have used this stuff and it is miraculous. I am squeamish when it comes to my chompers (have had so many cavities – curse you British genes), and this numbs absolutely everything. Utterly fantastic. Always have some in store. Get the 20% Benzocaine one; not the weak stuff.
- Tooth Cement
(ex. Dentek Temparin Max Lost Filling & Loose Cap Repair One Step Instant Pain Relief)
Get a kit. Very inexpensive and perfectly viable for temporary fillings as well as cap repair. The kits are ridiculously cheap and can get you through rough times if you don’t have the Benjamins for a dentist or simply can’t get to one.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
(ex. Swan Hydrogen Peroxide Topical)
Mentioning it again, as it’s a must have for ghetto dental surgery.
- Heat Activated Moldable Plastic Pellets
(ex. Polly Plastics Moldable Plastic and Color Pellet Kit)
A weird suggestion, I know. But it has been used in the past for temporary caps and holding fractured teeth together.
- Dental Extraction Forceps
(ex. Extracting Forcep #Md3 Dental)
I don’t want to think using these, but no one said long-term survival was going to be all fun and games. Use your imagination. I’m sure you can think of situations where you’d be more than happy to have these.
- Dental Mirror
(ex. SE Stainless Steel Inspection Mirror)
Once again, a must have to look for infections, as well as cavities, etc.
- Dental Picks
(ex. Dentist Prepared Tools Kit)
Required for testing the surface of the enamel and (*flinch*) scrapping away compromised dentin. You can also get them to keep the neighbourhood kids in lines, as they are terrifying.
- Cheek Retractor
(ex. Bestoyard Dental Mouth Opener Cheek Retractors)
Ridiculously useful; I wouldn’t attempt any dental work without one (frankly, besides temporary fillings I wouldn’t attempt any dental work if I had any other choice), especially taking into account lack of experience. I once had a fractured tooth that I had to deal with before going to the dentist, and this would have been incredibly useful. Hindsight aye?
9. Surgical & Miscellaneous Supplies Kit
- Surgical Stainless Steel Emesis Basins
(ex. Graham-Field 3232 Emesis Basin)
Also known as “kidney dishes” due to their distinctive shape. Make sure to sterilize them every single time.
- Eye & Skin Flush
(ex. PhysiciansCare 24-102 Wall Mountable Eye and Skin Flush Station)
I prefer the kit rather than just the solution. Once again – right tool for the right job. This article is not just about your on-the-go first aid kit (as I have repeated multiple times, I know) – it’s also what I think long-term survival and SHTF/TEOTWAWKI doomsday preppers should have at home to be ready to face extended periods of time during societal collapse, without the serious advantages of accessible professional medical assistance available.
- Obstetrical/Birthing Kit
(ex. Ever Ready First Aid Obstetrical Kit)
I strongly advise having an obstetrical/birthing kit separately (regardless of item overlap with your other preps). Child birth happens. The end of the world as we know it certainly won’t change that fact.
- Scalpels & Dissection Kit
(ex. Advanced Biology Lab Anatomy Medical Student Dissecting Dissection Kit Set)
Cutting out splinters and worse. We all know the guy who says he will run a flame over his kukri and deal with anything that comes his way Castaway style, but let’s be real – a sane person will want to make any surgical procedure (however minor) as painless as possible.
- Pure Cotton Towels
(ex. Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Pure Cotton Dish Cloth Kitchen Towels)
Make sure your towels for first aid are pure cotton and not some poly blend nonsense that will fall apart after boiling.
(ex. Quality Optics Headlamp Magnifier 8.5x LED Illuminated Headband)
Personally I own this one, and prefer it due to how flexible its application can be. But they’re both excellent.
- Tick Tweezers
(ex. Surgical Stainless Steel Precision Sharp Tweezers)
Get surgical tweezers instead of purpose designed tick tweezers. Why? These can also be used for ingrown hairs and other foreign object removal.
- Heat & Cold Packs
(ex. Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs)
Beyond useful, especially with muscle pain.
- IV Kit
(ex. Baxter IV Set with Extra Port)
I am horrible with needles, but I think we can all see a scenario where blood transfusions and IVs become a necessity (*cringe*). Even if that scenario is extremely unlikely, good to have handy.
- Re-Usable Surgical Gowns
(ex. Cloth Reusable Surgeon Gown)
Infections, contaminants, unsanitary conditions, etc. – these are incredibly useful. During the Balkan conflict (let’s be honest, despite political correctness, it was a war) and the economic collapse of Argentina, people died from easily preventable infections at horrifying rates.
- Surgical Mask
(ex. Disposable BLUE Earloop Face Mask)
I would get the disposable surgical masks, personally. The cotton ones simply don’t seem like they will last with the same level of efficacy.
- Surgical Gloves (Nitrile)
(ex. Medical Grade, Powder Free, Latex Rubber Free, Disposable, Non Sterile, Food Safe Nitrile Exam Gloves)
I prefer nitrile gloves over latex, as I find them to be tougher, abrasion resistant, and tear resistant, compared to the cheaper stuff. Not being prone to latex allergy issues is just a bonus.
- Suture Kit
(ex. UberScientific Suture Thread with Needle)
Self explanatory. Nothing holds as well as proper nylon sutures. If your wound is deep or jagged and thus likely to tear back open with butterfly stitches or adhesive bonding – sutures are pretty much the only way to go.
- Helping Hands Magnifying Glass
(ex. SE MZ101B Helping Hand with Magnifying Glass)
Useful for sutures, splinters, etc. Very useful.
- Needles & Syringes
(ex. Nipro Hypodermic Dispensing Needle)
Once again, this item is for long term use. Draining an abscess and irrigating a wound come to mind when thinking of how to answer people who wonder what someone would need syringes for.
- Sterile Cotton Balls
(ex. Curad Sterile Cotton Balls)
Very hard to DIY yourself (relative to performance). Just buy ’em. They’re cheap anyway.
- Cotton Swabs
(ex. Q-tips Cotton Swabs)
Should be standard in any toolkit, no doubt.
- Surgical Rags
(ex. Surgical Cotton Huck Towels)
Also known as Huck Towels and Surgical Blues, many will say that they are superfluous to requirement, but I think a small stockpile of re-usable surgical rags are extremely important. It’s very good to have options, and the ability to retrofit existing supplies into whatever you want is great, but if you have the time and spare bills to build up your stash, it might be a good idea to do it properly.
- Ear Syringe
(ex. Physician Supplies Ear Syringe Metal)
This is rarely mentioned and I don’t know why. With cerumen impaction so common, the ability to dislodge it using warm olive oil and an ear syringe is worth its weight in gold.
More First Aid Resources
It’s not just enough to have supplies on-hand when it comes to first aid. Having adequate knowledge is extremely important if there ever comes a time when you need to use your supplies to help heal or even save a life. Take a look at our list of the top 22 emergency & survival first aid books to get the medical knowledge you’d need from the most reputable sources.
Do you know how to tell if a cut is infected, whether to use Advil, Tylenol, or Aspirin, and how to quickly assess and address emergency situations? Did you know you can superglue cuts and that Imodium is an excellent tool for survival?
Got spare time? Check out all the first aid articles we have on this blog, to see if there’s anything valuable you’ve yet to learn on the topics we’ve written about.
Share Your First Aid Experiences & Advice
Do you have a first aid kit at home? Do you have one for work, travel, or anywhere else? What are the contents of your first aid kit?
Think you might add any of these items to your list now that you know about them or have been reminded about them?
Did I leave anything out of this list that really should be up here?
Have firsthand experience with an emergency situation where your first aid knowledge and supplies really helped you out?
Share your experiences and advice with us in the comments!
John Klein says
@Thomas Xavier It was a freat article the only things I would change I would use Hyfin Chest Seals there vented and you can get two for the price of one of the ADS.
Any time you have penetrating chest trauma you need to worry about an exit wound as while as an entrance.
Also I would use Cellox https://www.narescue.com/hemostatic-dressing-celox-rapid.html
instead of Quickclot because uses a substance that activates the bodies clotting process using it’s own factors. Cellox actual uses a substance used from crushed seashells that don’t rely on the bodies internal clotting process. This wont be an issue if the patient is on blood thinners.
Plus new studies being done by organizations like TCCC are saying Celox works in a minute unlike Qucikclot which can take up to three.
Also TCCC and the approved go to and (also military) is the CAT turniquet Gen 7 a little more expensive but definitely the standard in the military because with practice and proper training it can be self applied in less than 30 seconds. The SOFT T wide Gen 4 is another good option.
Thomas Xavier says
I got some Cellox but the Hyfin Chest seals are a unicorn here in Portugal. :/ Good to know about the reaction rates of Celox vs Quickclot- thanks for sharing John.
If all else fails or you have no other choices vanilla extract can be soaked into a cotton ball and gripped between the teeth for a toothache or lost filling. Pure vanilla extract tastes bad but is 35% alcohol which equals pain relief.
Thomas Xavier says
Aye, I read that before too. Is it just the alcohol that relieves the pain or is there something about the vanilla extract that contributes to the relief?
as a sleep aid, i use 30 mg melatonin in dissolving tablet form. melatonin is naturally produced in the brain, unlike synthetic chemicals, but boosted levels in times of stress help you sleep quicker and more restful.
i’m kind of shocked vet-wrap wasn’t in here, considering how inexpensive it is, easy to acquire and it’s self adhesive properties. not to mention it can as an ace bandage when one is called for. although because of that, you need to apply it with enough tension for it to stick to itself when wrapping a limb or digit when used as a bandage. anything more and you have the possibility of impeding circulation from one degree or another. i find it has more flexibility and resilience than cloth-backed plasters as well as being any size you need it to be.
just my two brass.
Thomas Xavier says
Very thankful for your two brass mate ;) I have never heard of vet-wrap, I will definitely look into it and as for melatonin, I remember trying it in the past- do you find that it works consistently if used regularly? Or do you get used to it and it ceases to be as effective?
i’ve never used it regularly, only when i can’t sleep so i don’t know if it loses its effectiveness or not. i can’t imagine it would though. if your brain isn’t consistently producing enough, the tablets would replace what’s not there. then again, you only take it when you really can’t sleep. i can imagine that if a person took it every night, whether they needed it or not, that their body would begin to use it as a crutch instead of producing it’s own.
oh and one more thing about vet wrap, if you take a 100 mm wide roll and slice it into 15 – 20 mm segments, you get five rolls that are less expensive than med tape AND stick better.
Thomas Xavier says
Interesting, I’ll get some and see how it works on me. Good tip on the Vet Wrap mate!
arizona coleman says
just trying to help, like. well, cheerio! stay safe.
Erik Kirk says
Liquid Ibuprofen capsules can be punctured and a drop or 2 can be put on a sore tooth. The pain disappears almost instantly. It tastes horrible and can burn your skin, but it feels much better than a tooth ache. I puncture the capsule with a needle, then squeeze the drops on to a toothpick. The toothpick helps getting the ibuprofen right to the sore spot.
Thomas Xavier says
I have oragel that uses a codeine equivalent- works a charm. I also heard that people have crunched up various painkillers and added it to the cavity- much like your liquid ibuprofen example. Obviously none of those are longterm solutions but if you can’t get to a dentist as fast as you would like/need, its definitely worth knowing. Thanks for sharing Erik!
RANDOLPH HAYES says
Catheters. In Case Of Kidney Stone Attacks And Prostate Problems.
Thomas Xavier says
great recommendation- did not think of that!
JERI GALLUS says
I scored a stainless steel surgical kit a while back and a copy of “Where There Are No Doctors/Dentists” (Separate books).
Thomas Xavier says
Great books! I love it as often people seem to forget dealing with our chompers is quite important!
Jack Russo says
This is all great stuff! Was curious as to what you personally store these items in, just smaller tote bins with similar type supplies in them for easy access, transport, mobility, etc, or one large organized tub??
Thomas Xavier says
Outside of the many lil’ first aid kits I have in various backpacks etc. I have 1 large drawer inside my home with commonly used first aid supplies, A multi-tiered storage system in a closet with everything separated by application (topical, painkillers etc.)and I have more long term stockpiles in small crates/plastic boxes- that said, my stockpile isn’t that impressive compared to some other folks. ;)
Dawna Clephas says
Ideally keep separate the items that expire regularly, so you don’t have to dig through each tub to find/replace them. Medicines, anything with rubber (gloves, ACE bandages), other items that may become warped or brittle depending on the storage conditions.
While syringes are helpful for irrigation, larger saline squeeze bottles are good for big wounds.
AluShield is a fantastic spray healing aid for wounds. Elastikon adhesive bandaging won’t slip like Vetrap (though I also love Vetrap).
Activated charcoal to treat poisoning. A razor to remove hair from treatment areas.
Vodka, for MANY reasons ;-)
Thomas Xavier says
Nice list Dawna- rubber and latex doesn’t last forever- its a good point and worth thinking about. Thanks for dropping by!
You guys are fantastic! This list is simply great, I’m a nurse, and still found things here I had not considered. One thing missing, in my humble opinion, is catheters. In a scenario where someone is unconsious for more than a few hours, or for other reasons are unable to empty their bladder (including issues with the prostate, issues after childbirth, severe pain, or in an end of life scenario), a catheter can make all the difference. If someone is unable to relieve themself for whatever reason, it will cause your kidneys to collapse, and consequently kill you in the most terrible and distressing way in absolutely no time. Catheters can also be used for irrigating deeper wounds when combined with sterile syringes, which everyone should consider keeping a huge stocload of. Empty syringes can be used for anytning and everything, including administring medication/nourishment to babies/very weak patients. They are also priceless when it comes to getting whatever sterile solution you are using from A to B. Yes, you have your boiled salty water, now how do you get it into that nasty wound with the added benefit of being able to apply some pressure to get around any dead tissue? Syringes.
I’m also tempted to recomend adding feeding tubes to the list, as they are quite simple to use, and can easily make the difference between life and death, especially for the very young, (As in babies, or young children unable to hydrate.)
Thomas Xavier says
Thank you so much for the compliment and sharing your recommendation. Catheter is definitely a good option- slipped my mind entirely!
Eugenol is an essential item in Dentistry. Derived/concentrated (I’m unsure of the process) from cloves, Dentists apply it on tooth surfaces that have been prepped for filling. The stuff stinks but is a remarkable long-lasting anti-septic with the bonus of pain control while absorbed into the tooth, Effects remain active days after the patient goes home. Whereas multiple, long term, topical applications of over the counter Oil of Clove can damage surrounding tissue and expose roots (which don’t have an enamel protective covering and can lead to more complications). I’m an IODA level II with national board certification (in case you were wondering).
And unrelated but a VIP in all my gear is TEA TREE OIL! Antifungal (don’t get me started on that cheap pedicure but once a day for 2 weeks and all good), antiseptic, it can be diluted and used as a bug spray for you shoe/pantleg capable of deterring ticks. Also an added drop when shampooing the little ones keeps away lice from moving in. So, while not tried would hope it could help with other body parasites that will appear regularly when TSHTF especially when you start to realize that personal hygiene will be lacking in large groups more worried about having drinking water.
Thomas Xavier says
Great suggestions- I’ll be snapping up some Eugenol pronto for my own kit!
If you have ever had a major surgery or been single and had any surgery, you appreciate that it is tough to take care of oneself. Add to the situation that shtf and you are in a world of hurt.
I will not contemplate making rehydration salts after shtf. Here is the information on the company that makes the stuff for the United Nations. Jianas Brothers in Kansas City, MO, U.S.A. Bought a case and distributed some to relatives.
Research and understand sodium chloride (table salt), potassium chloride (like a banana salt), and magnesium. People will take a table salt tablet when they should be taking potassium and magnesium. Potassium and magnesium cannot be stored in the body. The potassium is called no-salt in the supermarket. People generally take in too much table salt.
Pick up the skills of CPR and Heimlich. Have used both on other people.
Thomas Xavier says
As usual from you BDC, great tips and advice. Everytime you drop by I feel like I learn something new!
Tampons and sanitary towels are a good haemastatic, go for the heavy flow type if you can. As a Royal Navy medic I always carried a few in my trauma bag. A lighter is also a good idea if you have to disenfect surgical instruments on the hop. ( we didn’t always have time to sterilise gear) learn to suture, it’s not like doing shoelaces up, if you get it wrong it can be messy. Practice on orange peel as it resembles human skin. Learn about the plants that have medical,uses, plantago major grows everywhere, it is a brilliant haemastatic and has many other uses as well as it being edible.
I always wonder what good a tourniquet is to the untrained person, yes you will temporarily stem
The flow of an arterial bleed, but what then? If you don’t get the casualty to a hospital or aid station pretty quick(assuming they are still available) then they will contract gangrene and die a horridly slow death. arteries don’t heal themselves unfortunately. Amputation will result in shock followed by death, unless you know what you are doing, and even then the outcome will likely be a bad one.
A shovel is essential, dead bodies tend to smell after a couple of days, a real morale killer that one.
In my experience of operating in a few places that I have been throughout the world, the biggest and most common killer is unsanitary conditions,
It’s the little things that will get you.
Thomas Xavier says
Good suggestions Jon, completely agree with your point about the tourniquet- if you don’t know what to do after, then you are just delaying the inevitable.
Thanks for sharing!
I like iodine as an antiseptic. No mention of rolled gauze or triple antibiotic ointment.
Thomas Xavier says
Iodine is a perfectly good option, I included a bunch of different gauze dressings- I try to not over do it as I find that if I try to cover everything to the 8th degree, I will never stop. Thats why I like dual use tools/supplies. Flexibility is inherently valuable in a crappy situation where you can’t restock.
And, you’re going to carry all of this in a bug-out bag, how, exactly?
Elise Xavier says
“Today, however, we won’t be talking in terms of specific emergencies to have particular first aid kits made for, but in terms of more of the general: what supplies you can have at home that could really help you or a loved one out if a tough medical situation happens in your own home.” (bold added)
This post is not for bug-out-bag first aid kits. It’s an all encompassing what-you-should-ideally-have-at-home supply list.
Wow, that is an incredible list. Many preppers focus on food and water storage but forget the importance of medications and first aid supplies. Great article!
Elise Xavier says
Agreed, though I don’t blame them, knowing what first aid supplies to keep is tricky!
Awesome list! Only thing I’ll add is that in school they taught us to make an improvised ACS using Vaseline, foil and whatever medical tape you have handy. It works fairly well but like yall have mentioned in several other items, the purposed designed stuff works much better and should always use that first.
Thomas Xavier says
I’ve heard of people doing it but I have never done it myself thus I am a smidgen cautious about talking about it. I’ll test it out one of these days, maybe make a whole article out of it ;)
Great list! Found things we hadn’t considered Thank you!
. Be aware that after January 1st 2017, fish penicillin is off the shelves,, as well as fish erythromycin, amoxicillin & fish oxytetracycline. The likelihood is that all fish antibiotics & antifungals will be taken off with little warning sometime after Jan. 1st. This is the result of the “feed firective bill”. The powers that (USDA/FDA) have unlimited authority to add to their list at any time.
HOMESTEAD MOMMA’s YouTube network has been researching & updating the info..
Thomas Xavier says
Aye, this is pretty tragic news from a prepper perspective.
Elise Xavier says
!!! Thank you. Adding now.
Lay in a supply of kotex. Basically, it is sterile and can be used in place of much more expensive bandages and gauze.
Thomas Xavier says
Very true BDC. Maybe I should scribble down an article on alternative use for common household/hygiene items?