Natural disasters and other SHTF scenarios can lead to injury and disease, and have massive negative impacts on your local medical system. In severe scenarios, access to professional medical attention may be completely wiped out.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you prepare with first aid training and supplies. The most effective way to be prepared is with personalized DIY first aid kits.
Keep reading to learn about the disadvantages of premade kits, the benefits of creating your own first aid kit with chosen first aid kit items, and tips on how to make the most robust DIY first aid kit possible.
When it comes to prepping for an emergency, you’ve got to start somewhere. For many people, that means purchasing a premade first aid kit. Premade kits are better than nothing, but compared to DIY kits, they have multiple disadvantages.
They can be overpriced. With premade first aid kits, you pay for convenience. You'll be surprised if you crunch the numbers on what’s inside versus what you paid.
They contain low-quality products. Despite being overpriced, many premade first aid kits contain low-quality products that you wouldn’t want to trust your life to in an emergency.
They include unnecessary items. You have no control over what manufacturers put inside, so you end up with things you don’t need.
They lack organization. Many premade kits look like a small child chucked some gauze and alcohol wipes into a container—and it should go without saying that in a situation where you need first aid, you don’t want to waste time fumbling around for what you need.
To avoid these inevitable disadvantages, we recommend compiling a first aid checklist and outfitting your own DIY first aid kit.
Like with most things, first aid kits are better if you do it yourself. There are four important advantages of DIY first aid kits.
With a larger upfront investment, you can save money in the long run, which is perfect for prepping on a budget. You can buy first aid kit items in bulk to keep cached in a supply closet at home, the office, or a bug-out location. Then, as you use up items in your kits or as things expire, you can resupply without purchasing more.
We all have biases and preferred products. By building a DIY kit based on a custom first aid kit checklist instead of purchasing a premade one, you can include only the best products. There is no need to deal with knock-off brands.
The custom first aid kits you build can include specialized first aid items for certain activities, scenarios, and locations. For example, you can build a more extensive kit to keep at home or your bug-out location, and a sleeker kit for the car or bug-out bag.
You can organize a DIY kit to your heart’s content. As a result, you know exactly where everything is. This is especially helpful for stressful emergency scenarios where you cannot afford to lose time looking for particular items.
There’s more that goes into building a DIY first aid kit than just purchasing first aid supplies and keeping them in your basement with your other prepper supplies. To know what to include, you must first perform a risk analysis and then consider the who, what, where, why, and how of your first aid kits.
It can be challenging to consider all the possible emergency scenarios that could occur. Therefore, we recommend performing a risk analysis to help you brainstorm and give your first aid kit checklist some guidance.
There are many different ways to perform a risk analysis; but we’ll walk you through a simple method that will get you headed in the correct direction.
First, write down all the hazards or risks in your home—for example, burns from cooking in the kitchen and cutting yourself while shaving. Remember to consider your spouse, children, and other people that may live with you, and the hazards they are exposed to.
Repeat creating lists for other locations, such as your garage, vehicle, and workplace.
After you have finished creating your lists, apply a numerical value to every entry ranging from one to five. One is “not likely” to occur, and five is “very likely.”
Next, consider any medical conditions that can lead to a life-threatening problem. For example, allergies that cause anaphylaxis.
Lastly, evaluate your responses. The items on your lists that score the highest are items that you need to prepare for before the items that score lower.
Besides performing a risk analysis, asking yourself some critical questions is another effective strategy for building a DIY first aid kit.
Who are you building the kit for? Do you have a family? Are you single and live alone? Are you taking care of an elderly family member?
What type of activities do you expect, and what possible risks are involved?
Where do you want to keep your first aid kit? Is it for your house? Car? Or the garage or workshop?
Where do you live? In an emergency, how close are you to professional medical attention?
Why do you want to build a first aid kit? Understanding your motivations will give you direction.
How prepared are you? And how prepared do you want to be?
No matter the kit's intended usage, a few basic first aid items should be included in every kit. Remember, these are only recommended categories, and not specific product recommendations. The final decision is up to you.
Wound cleaning agents, like antiseptic wipes or hydrogen peroxide
Assorted adhesive bandages (e.g., Band-Aids)
Butterfly closures or adhesive wound-closure strips
Various types and sizes of gauze
Medical adhesive tape
A properly built first aid kit should also have personal protection equipment (PPE). In any medical situation, it's crucial to protect yourself and others from potential infection. This can include items such as face masks and eye protection, in addition to the nitrile gloves already mentioned. It's also recommended to have a resuscitation mask with a one-way valve to provide safe CPR.
Elastic wrap (e.g., Ace bandages)
Burn and bite treatments
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (i.e., ibuprofen)
Glucose or other sugar to treat hypoglycemia
Knife or multi-tool
Notepad and pen
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One of the significant advantages of building your own kit instead of purchasing a premade kit is being able to organize it however you prefer. Here are some tips for optimal organization:
Organize like items together.
Label obscured pockets so you know what's inside without looking.
Use Ziploc bags and rubber bands to help organize.
Remember—your goal with organization is to create a first aid kit that anyone can open and use, not just you. That way, if you become the victim and require first aid care, someone can easily help you.
Becoming properly trained in first aid is more important than simply possessing first aid kits in your home, car, office, space, or bug-out location. If you don't know how to use your first aid kit, it is just a big container of useless doo-dads.
In other words, knowing what to pack is worthless if you don’t know how to use it.
Sure, we all know how to apply a Band-Aid. But with some extra training related to human anatomy and basic injuries, you can drastically improve your response in emergency scenarios.
For basic first aid and CPR training, we recommend the Red Cross or American Heart Association. For first responder training, especially in wilderness or backcountry settings, we recommend the National Outdoor Leadership School.
After you receive training, don’t forget to practice to keep your skills sharp. For example, with a little imagination, you can practice assessing injuries and illnesses, bandaging, and splinting. And if your kids are old enough, don’t forget to involve them. Kids can benefit from practicing as well.
Just as important as the physical components of your first aid kit is knowledge about emergency situations. Consider having a reference guide or first aid manual included in your kit. This can be invaluable in a crisis situation when stress and fear might make it hard to remember your training. This book can offer step-by-step instructions for many common scenarios, and it could make all the difference in an emergency.
Over time, first aid items can go bad and expire. Therefore, like with your other emergency supplies and bug out bag food, it’s essential to maintain your first aid kit items.
As part of your first aid kit checklist, set reminders to periodically check your supplies. Whenever necessary, replace items that look old or have gone bad with fresh items.
Ultimately, what someone includes in their DIY first aid kits is a personal choice. That’s the beauty of avoiding premade kits and making your own autonomous decisions. With DIY first aid kits, you can save money, select the best products, and fully customize how your kits are organized.
We hope you found this article helpful. For more informative articles, check out our Practical Prepper Blog. For any questions about our food that lasts 25 years, go ahead and contact a product expert. They are on standby, waiting to help.