I had someone break into my truck a few days ago. They rummaged around a little but didn’t really take a lot. One of the things I lost was my first aid kit that I carry around so I thought I would take some time to write a blog post about the building of the new kit. The only other thing stolen was a small Rubbermaid tub that I keep in the truck and use as a storage compartment for the other preparedness items I carry with me, but that is another post.
Why should you carry a first aid kit in your car?
Well there are a lot of answers to that question. First of all, you never know what you are going to run into while you are out on the road. You may come upon a wreck where someone is bleeding badly from their head and a couple of gauze pads could do a lot more good than a dirty ripped up T-Shirt. But pretty much every guide that I have ever read always focuses on these extreme cases that I am probably not ever going to have to deal with. That is not what I want to focus on during this article. Still, keep that in the back of your mind and do prepare for those situations.
I want to focus on things that are much more likely. My first aid kit has plenty of gauze pads, finger splints, a cold pack, etc. but what I find most important, and much more probable, is to being able treat a cut on a finger or a case of an upset stomach and that is what most guides leave out. Not that you shouldn’t prepare for extreme cases, just don’t neglect to prepare for the much more common things while you are at it.
The other big benefit to having a small first aid kit in your car is that it is pretty much always with you. I very seldom go anywhere that my vehicle isn’t within walking distance. If I do, I can grab the kit and take it with me.
Starting your own car first aid kit.
The first thing you need to get is a case for your kit. This could be anything from a ziploc type bag to a tackle box. I don’t have a lot of storage in my truck (actually an SUV) so I like bags better than boxes. They are much easier to store by shoving under a seat or cramming into a glove box or console.
This is one of the reasons I recommend starting with a pre made kit. You need to shop around a little because there can be some real rip offs out there. A lot of the kits for sale at retail stores have junk you will never need in them and are lacking some of the most basic stuff. I found a pretty good deal ($10)in the automotive section of Walmart on this kit and that is what I am starting with.
The other good reason to start with a kit is that they generally include a lot of the serious injury stuff like big gauze pads, instant cold packs, etc. These can get expensive when you have to buy entire boxes of them and you are probably never going to use more than just a few of them anyway so it generally works out to be a better deal to get it all as a kit.
What should you pack in your car first aid kit?
Depending in what the kit you pick up has in it you probably don’t need a ton extra. The kit I referenced above has the following items in it.
- 6 iodine prep pads
- 6 antiseptic wipes
- 3 sting-relief wipes
- 1 abdominal pad
- 2 non-adherent pads
- 4 gauze pads (2″ x 2″)
- 2 gauze pads (4″ x 4″)
- 4 vinyl gloves
- 2 tongue depressors
- 8 cotton tip applicators
- 10 rayon balls
- 2 knuckle bandages
- 2 fingertip bandages
- 1 roll of adhesive tape
- 50 large adhesive strips
- 10 small adhesive strips
- 2 island dressing (2″ x 3″)
- 1 gauze roll
- 1 triangular bandage
- 1 cold compress
- 1 pair of tweezer
- 1 pair of first aid scissors
- 1 first aid instruction card
- 6 cleansing wipes
- 2 poly carrying bags
That’s a lot of stuff for ten bucks. This really covers a lot of bigger things that I might have to deal with. It is not all inclusive but is a very good start.
Ok, the best part is really the case. There is plenty of room to fit some of the other items I like to have on hand. Below is a list of the basic things you should carry. You will go through these items fairly regularly so it makes sense when you can to buy bigger containers and refill the smaller ones.
- Aspirin – Great pain reliever and fever reducer. Could be a life saver for someone suffering from a heart attack.
- Naproxen Sodium (same stuff that is in Alieve) – This is my pain reliever of choice for a head ache.
- Ibuprofen (Excedrin) – Works as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory (for things like a sprained ankle)
- Medicated Hand Lotion – I know, this makes you sound like a wuss but if you get stranded on the side of the road and have to work on the car in the winter time you will thank me for this one.
- Blistex – For the same reason you carry lotion.
- Imodium – No need for explanation on this one I assume.
- Triple Antibiotic Ointment – For treating all too common scrapes and minor cuts.
- Pepto Bismol tablets– You can probably figure this one out on your own as well.
- Benadryl – To treat allergic reactions.
The additional items can be purchased for under $20 if you shop sales. So, for a total of about $30 you can have a pretty good first aid kit to carry around in your car and always have on hand. You may not save someone’s life by performing surgery on the side of the road with this kit but you will be just as big of a hero when you treat that scraped knee or upset stomach.
By all means, add additional items and get as prepared as you want. My word of caution is to make sure you know how to use what you are buying. Study up a little on First Aid before you spend a bunch of money on fancy preps. I honestly know people that have bought field surgical kits and have no idea how to use them. Waste of money in my opinion.
Please comment and let me know if I missed something.