Keeping a proper first aid kit on hand can mean the difference between life and death in some cases. Even if you never find yourself in a dramatic situation, proper first aid can prevent infection, relieve pain, and prevent burns from blistering and peeling. It’s important for anyone who finds themselves outdoors and away from civilization to be able to cover the basics if they happen to get hurt.
A good first aid kit covers a few general areas, and includes one or two products to help care for each one. Any proper first aid kit enable you to disinfect and bandage a cut, treat rashes and allergic reactions, assist with a bad sunburn, stop a headache, and soothe a bee sting. These are the bare minimums that need to be met before you can start adding other items, like styptic powder and splints, to your first aid kit.
Being able to quickly and safely stop clean and cover small wounds is a huge help to just about everyone who spends enough time outdoors. From raspberry bushes and brambles, to wild roses and small rocks, sometimes it seems like everything you run across in the woods wants to tear at your clothes and cut your legs. Bandages, gauze, and antibiotic ointment are a must for caring for small cuts and wounds.
From a bumped knee to a headache, being able to reduce or relieve pain is a necessity. There are a few common types of pain relievers, and every first aid kit should have at least two to choose from. Aspirin is a great choice, since it can also be chewed during a heart attack and helps with fever. Your other choice should probably be an anti-inflammatory NSAID, like ibuprofen or naproxen, so toss in Tylenol or Aleve for sprains or pain accompanied by redness and swelling.
Benadryl, or diphenhydramine hcl, is a very useful drug to have at your disposal. It relieves rashes and itching due to allergies, can help with some food allergies, and even makes an excellent short-term sleep aid. Benadryl is available in a few forms, capsules, pills, and ointment for topical applications, but you only need one of the three for your kit. Diphenhydramine capsules, the little pills full of powder, can be taken internally or opened up and applied to the skin, so there’s no need to carry cream unless you’re specifically worried about bug bites or a skin allergy.
Sunburn can be serious business if you’re out on the trail. It saps your strength, dehydrates, causes a lot of pain, and bad burns can even get infected. A proper first aid kit will have sunblock to prevent it, usually at least SPF 30 and water-resistant, but in case your sunblock fails it’s important to have options. For moderate to light burns, aloe ointment is often enough. If you’re prone to second-degree or worse sunburns, though, you should take along pain relief spray or antiseptic cream, as well as large gauze pads and zinc oxide for your face.