February 3, 2010

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Disaster Prep: First Aid

This post is part of a series on disaster preparedness. Each entry will cover one part of the preparations I’m making for a “disaster kit”, along with why I’m including the items, how important they are, and how much it cost. See the initial posting for more details.

First Aid supplies are another item from the “Duh” school of logic, at least when it comes to being prepared for a disaster. Though it was a “Duh”, I had to debate with myself if it was more more important than Tools or not. In the end I decided that they were of equal importance. Obviously, if you are reasonably injured in the initial disaster you should take care of yourself before you go looking for others; following the same logic behind putting on your own oxygen mask before that of a child’s, when on a plane. That being said, if you aren’t seriously injured, clearing some rubble a few minutes sooner can be the difference between life and death for someone else. Then again, sometimes you’ve got a little leeway.

First Aid Kit (Importance — Critical — 5/5)

You should get some sort of generic, reasonably stocked first aid kit. The kind that includes your usual assortment of band aids and basic meds along with antiseptics, prep pads, rubber gloves, tape, gauze, etc. While you can get camping kits at places like REI, I prefer bigger and bulkier (which equates to better stocked) for home use. I found a 326 piece first aid kit that is fairly decent. It has a large quantity of many of the basic items along with some supplies that fall under the “would be nice” if you’re going beyond the 72 hour window (ie: sting relief pads and antacids). That being said, supplementing the kit can’t hurt.

Supplements (Importance — Handy — 2/5)

  • <a href="http://www.amazon.com/First-Aid-Only-Trauma-10-Count/dp/B001H9NC4Y/?void=fidelis” title=”[amazon] First Aid Only 5” X 9” Trauma Pad, 10-Count Boxes (Pack of 5)“>Trauma Pads

  • <a href="http://www.amazon.com/First-Aid-Only-Conforming-12-Count/dp/B000YME9V0/?void=fidelis” title=”[amazon] First Aid Only 4” Sterile Conforming Gauze Roll Bandage, 12-Count Bags">Sterile Gauze Bandages

  • SAM Splint — A couple pieces of straight wood and duct tape work just as well, but if you want to first aid in style, get some of these.

  • Quick Clot — Typically not included in most first aid kits, but EXTREMELY handy in cases of severe bleeding

  • Burn Jel — Probably overkill for most cases, unless you have a serious reason to worry about fire.

  • Instant Cold Compress — In the world after a major disaster, ice will be a luxury (unless you live somewhere cold, of course). Cold compresses would be nice to help reduce swelling, but again are a probably overkill unless you’ve got a lot of space.

Summary

  • Cost — First Aid Kit — $35.95

  • Total Cost — $35.95 In the Boy Scouts, we made our own first aid kits and that was “good enough”. We took little soap boxes and loaded it up with band aids, bandage roll, gauze and neosporin. If you want to be cheap, you can do the same. Simply buy a small container and load it up with some of the basic supplies. Personally I don’t mind spending $40 and knowing that everything I need will be taken care of. Maybe I could use some more of the “disaster-esque” supplies (as noted in the supplements), but I can always add those on later.

  • As a final note. Many of the medical supplies “expire”, in fact the first aid kits tend to have a “Best used by” date on them nowadays. Keep an eye on the dates, but in my book, it is only a rough guide. Sure, if you have a first aid kit for 10 years the aspirin is going to be shot (Editor’s Note: Expiration Dates on medicines are conservative. Yes, they do lose efficacy over time, however if you are in a disaster-type situation, expired aspirin is better than no aspirin.) and some of the creams & ointments could have lost their effectiveness, but something is better than nothing. Though knowing that much of the supplies will go bad, it might be good to replace the first aid kit every few to five years.