What's in Your First Aid Kit?

What's in Your First Aid Kit?

The appeal of adopting the RV lifestyle is to get away from the congestion and stress of daily living and enjoy being away from it all. But being away from It all means campers are away from the conveniences of nearby drug stores, emergency clinics and doctor’s offices, which in some case could be an hour’s drive or more away.

What happens when that ankle gets twisted, the skin gets lacerated on a sharp rock or someone suffers a severe case of sunburn or skin rash? How do you treat an injury that requires a little more than a latex bandage and some anti-bacterial ointment?

One way to be proactive and prepared is to have a supply of first aid essentials in the RV or camper. There are many selections of kits that can be purchased pre-packaged and ready to go. These can contain the bare basics of wound care and bandaging or can be more elaborate, similar to the kits carried by medical professionals. The choice depends largely on what you will use most often and how knowledgeable you are in first aid. Prices vary depending on the size and contents of the kits, ranging from $10 to about $100.

It is also easy to put together your own first aid kit. This ensures that you know what is inside and that you are comfortable with each items function in the event of an emergency. It may cost a little more because you are buying the items yourself, but it also ensures you get the brands you are familiar with and know that the contents are up-to-date.

According to the American Red Cross, the basic first aid kit for a family of four should include a variety of bandage types, such as adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, butterfly bandages, a few absorbent compress dressings, roller bandages in 3-inch and 4-inch rolls, triangular bandages, sterile gauze pads in 3-inch square and 4-inch square, and adhesive cloth tape.

As the injured area will need to be cleaned, antibiotic ointment packages or tube and antiseptic wipes will help reduce the chance of infection.

Some experienced campers and outdoors people often use superglue or medical-grade glue to close a cut, which has many benefits, including wound closure, reduced scarring and protection from dirt and air. There are limitations to when this type of wound closure should be used, however, such as not for animal bites, deep or jagged cuts, puncture wounds and wounds that are already infected.

Other items to pack into the first aid kit, according to the Red Cross, are packets of aspirin, hydrocortisone ointment, non-latex gloves, a space blanket, an instant cold compress, and a breathing barrier with a one-way valve. Cotton swabs are also a handy item to have to use when precision is needed to disinfect a cut or wound or apply ointment.

You should also have an oral thermometer, a pair of scissors and a pair of tweezers. Some first aid experts also recommend packing a supply of safety pins and a small pocket knife. A sterile needle and thread, an irrigation syringe and a small mirror can also be helpful in treating injuries. Having a small flashlight can be useful too.

A first-aid instruction booklet is also a wise idea to pack into the kit.

Other suggestions for a basic first aid kit include moleskin bandages, which is used in treating blisters, aloe vera cream to sooth sun-damaged skin or skin rashes, and eye drops or a bottle of saline solution.

More advanced kits will include a tourniquet, splints and an epi pen. For RVers or anyone spending time in the outdoors, there are some additional items that will come in handy, depending on the circumstances and injury. Including a bee-sting kit and snake bite kit is a good choice, which, hopefully, will never be needed.

Here are some other pointers to remember concerning your first aid kits:

  • Once you have your first aid kit purchased or prepared, make sure it is accessible and that everyone in your party knows where it is stored. For it to help, it must be easy to find. Minutes count when an injury occurs.
  • Consider putting together smaller kits to take with you on a trail or while adventuring away from camp. These can include bandages, antiseptic wipes and gauze.
  • Check the expiration date on the products you put into your main kit. Replace as needed when you do your pre-season inspection or when buying groceries or essentials as needed on the road. Most grocery stores and convenience stores carry some first aid products.

The fact that you have a first aid kit can be a life-saving. It’s even better to know what to do. Knowing how to bandage a more severe injury or how to best treat a wound are basic knowledge everyone should have. Taking a basic first aid course will give you the knowledge you need to treat someone who has been injured. More advanced classes teach CPR and basic triage skills. The American Red Cross offers certification and training through on-site locations and online.

Being outdoors carries some risks, both minor and major. Skinned knees, rashes, blisters and other minor injuries are likely to occur and are the battle scars of adventuring outside. The better prepared a camper or RVer is to handle both the minor injuries and the major ones, the better outcome for everyone concerned. 

Jul 6th 2021 Lois Tomaszewski

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