How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Do Your First Aid Kits Have The Right Stuff?

emts - lakewentworth@flickrNo, not like Chuck Yeager. This has nothing to do with test pilots and airplanes. My question is around your home first aid and trauma kits. Do you know that your kits have what need to be in them or did you just buy them off the shelf somewhere and throw them under the sink for safe keeping?

I’m a bit overzealous about first aid kits considering that I have a kid with hemophilia, but you should all be equally zealous because you really never know what might happen. If you recall from my Armory Life Saver post you need to have several smaller first aid kits in your home but you need a couple trauma style kits in your safe room or armory.

Rudy’s Tip: Make sure you have first aid kits at minimum on every floor of your house. In the bathroom and kitchen is a good spot. If you have power tools that you use a first aid kit and maybe even a trauma kit is a must have in the shop. Don’t forget.

What’s the difference between a first aid kit and a trauma kit?

I thought you’d never ask! In my definition a first aid kit doesn’t have as much good stuff in it and is oriented towards dealing with minor injuries, cuts and scrapes, burns, that sort of thing. It’s basically your Band-Aid box with a bunch of other awesome stuff in it.

Trauma kits are targeted at dealing with more major injuries up to and including gunshot wounds, power tool accidents, and the like. This is the kit you use to try to stabilize someone until emergency services arrives, or if the situation is grid-down, this may be all you have to treat them.

Wait a minute. I have no idea how to treat a gunshot wound.

Nobody does until they learn. In all seriousness, you should get some decent training on dealing with more serious injuries. You can get basic EMT style training for free in most major cities and while it won’t make you an expert it gets you farther along than most.

While you probably won’t ever have to deal with a gunshot wound you need to know how to deal with major injuries no matter what the cause. The chances of you freezing up and not knowing how to react in a life threatening situation are significantly increased if you haven’t gotten training or practiced being responsive. Get training. Yesterday.

Ok. I’ll go sign up. Tell me what should be in a first aid kit!

first aid kitBand-Aids. Lots of them. Different sizes too! Now that the obvious is behind us, recall that the purpose of a first aid kit is to treat minor cuts and scrapes. I like to include stuff to stop or slow bleeding as well. It’s always handy to be able to start treating a more major injury while someone else runs for the trauma kit.

First Aid kits should contain:

Gauze and Bandages

  • A good size supply of Band-Aids of varying sizes. I’d say at least 30-40 of the larger ones while 20 or so of the smaller sizes will suffice.
  • 10 each – Large and Medium Band-Aid adhesive pads (the square-ish gauze pads with adhesive around them)
  • 10 each – Large and Medium gauze pads
  • 2 rolls – 2″ Gauze
  • 2 rolls – 1″ ‘Hurt Free Wrap’ (the soft elastic tape that sticks to itself)
  • 2 rolls – 1″ Medical Paper Tape
  • 10 Steri Strips


  • Neosporin
  • One small bottle each:
    • Ibuprofen
    • Acetaminophen
    • Aspiron
    • Immodium
    • Benadryl
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Vaseline


  • Alcohol pads
  • Five chemical cold packs
  • A small bottle of saline for irrigating wounds
  • Small scissors – child safe craft scissors work good here
  • A lighter
  • A small package of sewing pins
  • A good pair of tweezers – Don’t skimp here, you want a good set that line up properly
  • A small bottle of alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Six pairs of examination gloves
  • A CPR shield
  • Celox or an equivalent hemostatic agent
  • A mini-sharpie pen

Needless to say your over the counter kit here doesn’t have all this stuff in it. This will also seem like overkill and you may want to adjust the amounts of things based on how many folks are in your family. We go through band-aids like a knife through butter so it makes sense for us to have plenty, for example.

I’ve also added extra because I’m paranoid about not having enough and I’d rather have too much than not enough. So consider my amounts as guidelines, not the rule!

Great, now what about the Trauma Kit?

traumapackIt’s basically an overpowered first aid kit. It should contain:

Gauze and Bandages

  • The same stuff as in the first aid kit, just two or three times as much.
  • Additional rolls of gauze bandage and tape in wider widths
  • Several ACE bandages
  • Four triangle bandages
  • A dozen large Trauma Dressings
  • A dozen feminine sanitary pads


Same as the first aid kit


Same as the first aid kit with the addition of:

  • A box of examination gloves (you will need more than one box to cover different sizes)
  • A large bottle of saline irrigation
  • A large bottle of hand sanitizer
  • EMT Shears
  • Two thermometers (I like the instant read ones, but keep a few ‘basic’ ones too)
  • Splinting material of various sizes
  • More Celox
  • Two more CPR shields
  • I also think it’s a good idea to have at least one pair of crutches lying around in a closet somewhere, but certainly not in your trauma bag.

These trauma bags seem a bit like overkill of course, but I’d rather be safe than sorry and most of this stuff doesn’t really go bad. I will use the trauma kit to stock the first aid kits as things get used up and then I refill the trauma kit before it gets too low.

I usually split the bandage and gauze amounts above into two bags with a set of medicinal supplies and equipment in each bag and get my two trauma bags that way. Same amounts total but easier to carry and sometimes you just don’t need to haul everything along with you!

What should I put these in?

That’s up to you.  You can buy purpose built bags for first aid kits and use those.  You can buy smaller plastic boxes and put them in duffel bags.  You could raid the local surplus store and see what they have.  It’s really up to you!  I personally use smaller purpose built bags for first aid kits and bandages inside the trauma kit and the trauma kits are in duffel bags.

Wrapping it up

I hope this helps. Don’t view this as gospel but as a starting point. Modify amounts appropriately and keep up your rotation for things that can expire. And like I said … GO GET TRAINING.

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One Response to Do Your First Aid Kits Have The Right Stuff?

  1. Silly question: Is the saline solution that you’re talking about like contact lens saline solution or something else?