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Mick Young 01-11-2007 07:14 AM

Essentials for the first aid kit
What would people cal the essentials that they carry in their first aid kits. Whilst away we opened our kit to clean up a cut toe and found the kit we had brought decidedly lacking. What do people keep in theirs, this is basicaslly for just a couple of days cruising at a time at the moment but I would still like to hear from those who are more actively cruising.


chefmango1 01-11-2007 12:10 PM

I made up a kit in a small tool box from Lowes, it includes:
tweezers, locking hemostats, scissors, small razor knife - not a utility knife, but small plastic handle with retractable blade.
cloth tape, 2" rolled gauze, assortment of gauze pads from 2" to 6",
assortment of adhesive strips (all cloth - hold when wet unlike plastic) including knuckle/fingertip pads. Burn dressing (pre-packaged gauze soaked with ointment), ibruprofen, acetominophin, peroxide and neosporin.
I've found this kit pretty much covers first aid needs and will hold things together until real help can be gotten if needed. My offshore kit is a bit more expansive.

s/v Enfin

wind_magic 01-11-2007 12:30 PM

I don't know on a boat, but I'll give you my treking ideas because there is no doubt some overlap.
  • Jock itch cream - Yep, but not for it's intended purpose, it fixes just about any kind of a fungus and gunk you get on yourself while you are on a trek. Little patches of junk you get on your arm in the tropics, or anything that looks kind of blotchy or flakey on your skin, put this stuff on it, it often clears it up.
  • Aspirin
  • Caffeine - I never take this, but I do keep a few around just in case. I can imagine situations I could get into when exhausted that I would absolutely have to stay awake and alert for, and I might take a bit of caffeine then.
  • Antibiotic - Doctor prescribed, use as directed
  • Tooth ache pain reliever - Liquid, comes in a little bottle
  • Alcohol gel - Sold as hand cleanser, disinfects without needing water
  • Small mirror - I use my compass mirror, for getting junk out of your eye
  • Cotton swaps - For getting junk out of your ear
  • Table salt
  • Needle and thread - For bad cuts (I've never done this)
  • Duct tape - Bad cuts
  • Soap - Stop stuff before it starts! An ounce of prevention ...

I'm no doctor, but that's what I always carry treking, but on a boat you could carry a lot more of course. On a trek space is at a premium and you try to keep the weight down as much as possible, so you don't carry splints and piles of sterile cloth and things like that on a trek, you use sticks and ripped clothing, etc, and carry very limited amounts of sterile cloth, or sterilize it with alcohol used in a pepsi can stove as fuel, etc.

I too am interested in what people carry on their boats in terms of medicine and first aid kits and things.

camaraderie 01-11-2007 12:33 PM

There is lots of medical kit stuff in both articles and posts here on sailnet. Just type in "medical" on the search function and you'll have more info than you need!

T34C 01-11-2007 01:35 PM

I have never been very impressed with pre-made-up first aid kits and have always made my own based on my passed experience in emergency medicine. I buy a small (to mid) sized bag from a fishing store(I got mine at Bass Pro Shop) 12"x12"x6". Fishermen use them for holding rubber worms and associated gear. They open from the top and have "ziplock" type bags attached to three ring binder inside. The other top zipper opens a pocket on the other side that has a big compartment with little particians to hold your stuff. The bags are tuff and waterproof and pretty cheap. Inside the bag:

In the bigger pocket and outside pocket:
CPR pocket mask
tape scissors
tube hydrocortisone
sm. bottle Pharmadine
sm. Ace bandage
Sam Splint
several sm. applicators of medical adhesive
Steri-strips (like butterfly bandages for closing wounds)
rubber gloves
couple biohazard bags
1-2 rolls athletic tape
1-2 rolls elastisized athletic tape
Smaller pocket and ziplock side:
bacitracin ointment (similar to neosorine)
sting sticks
several small individual saline drops
lots of benzalkonium wipes (disinfectant, better than alcohl as doesn't burn or dry out the skin)
sm. bottle of benzalkonium
lots of band-aids of various sizes (make sure to include the very big ones)
lots (20+) 3x3 or 4x4 gauze pads
mole skin or band-aid brand blister blocker
more rubber gloves
10 or so 4x4 medical sponges
small (2x2) gauze pads
few cotton nose plugs
This is the kit I carry on the boat and have roughly duplicates that I carry in the car when I travel. I would deem this a pretty good kit for short trips. If I were going offshore or extended cruise, I would really beef this up. When in doubt error on the side of bigger, ie... gauze pads and tape will do the same thing as a band-aid and work on bigger injuries faster.

Hope it helps.

wildcard 01-11-2007 03:30 PM

I have never seen a decent FAK sold commercialy so your question about putting one together is good, done to death on every outdoor activity forum but good non the less.
First thing you need is training. If you have some, get more. No use having an ambulance in a bag if you don't know what to do with it all.
Second, the time to find out you are missing something or to find out that something you realy need is not there is not when you need it but before hand. if you chose to buy a premade FAK, open it up and give it a look see so you know what is in there.
Good luck!

svs3 01-11-2007 03:58 PM

I would definitely recommend a very good and through medical reference. The ones that immediately come to mind are Where There Is No Doctor and Medicine for Mountaineering. I would strongly second the suggestion to get some training. The farther afield one ventures more comprehensive the training needs to be. For the voyager, I think, wilderness EMT training would not be excessive.


Cruisingdad 01-11-2007 04:07 PM


I actually like the commercial first aid kits and own one. You can assemble them yourself without paying their prices, but you should get a list of what they have in them. They also have accomopanying books that tell you what to do and what to grab... but I have found them a bit vague for me. One of the things I really like about them is the way they section everything out based upon the injury and severity. If you have to stock a large kit, and don't section it out, it will look like the kids haloween bag after a very succefull Trick-or-Treat! You won't find anything quickly and you are never really sure what you have. A negative of the bag is its size and I think they understock the things you seem to use the most (like triple antibiotic cream, for example). But, they have a nice list of the script meds you need and most docs appreciate filling them knowing for sure where they are going and that you know how to use them (especially since there are controlled substances involved).

If you stock it with scripts, make sure you get the dry form as much as possible for antibiotics or any other med you can. You will usually see most pharmacist mixing these with water before they give them to you, but that starts the date-stamp, so to speak. They will stay longer in their original, sealed bottle and you can add the water when needed. I have also found many of the meds (like nitro) do not last very long in a humid environment. I had a doc on this forum reccomend injectable phen versus the suppositories which I would consider, but the idea of trying to punch a needle into me (or someone else) in a large sea is a little intimidating. I might still stick with the suppositories.

One good book is Advanced First Aid Afloat if you are going to sea with kids. The whole back half is dedicated to children. Another good one is A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine. THis book is a good accompany to the kits but lacks the childrens section. It is nice and point-point and easy to undersatand and find things quickly.

Personally, I own both. I cannot have enough references. But I have kids with me, so it makes a difference.

Hope that helps. Take care.

- CD

sailingdog 01-11-2007 04:29 PM


I like and advocate Eastman's Advanced First Aid Afloat as well. Very comprehensive. Depending on what kind of sailing you're doing will often determine what you need in your medical kit. If you're just daysailing or doing weekend trips, then your kit doesn't generally need to be as comprehensive as a bluewater voyager/long-distance cruising kit does.

Adventure Medical has some excellent kits, like this one. If you want to assemble your own kit, you can take a look at the contents of this one and use that as a guideline. I like the fact that the bags are color-coded for different types of medical emergencies. The book by Eric Weiss is probably a pretty good book, as CD has anouther of his listed above, and probably is using the same brand kit in fact.

T34C 01-11-2007 04:39 PM

SD- It is a little expensive, but one of the better premade kits I've seen. Good recommedation.

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