Building a Survival First-Aid Kit

Any survival situation challenges us in all areas of our lives. We are challenged to find enough food and water, keep ourselves warm, defend ourselves from danger and even maintain our health in a decidedly unhealthy situation.

Let’s face it, the risks are high in any survival situation. What makes it worse is that we can’t necessarily depend upon the support system that modern society offers us. Not only would running water and electricity things of the past in any serious disaster situation, but many other essential services, like healthcare, may be all but impossible to find.

Healthcare services end up being overrun in any disaster situation. Hospitals and clinics have long lines of patients seeking admittance, while doctors and other medical specialists work overtime to try and take care of as many as they can. Invariably there are more needs than there are hands to take care of those needs. On top of that, transportation can be a problem, with gas pumps out and roads blocked with wreckage.

Seeing all that, it’s clear that we need to be ready to deal with as many health problems as we can on our own, without the help of medical professionals. That way, they can concentrate their efforts on those whose situation is more grave than our own. So, we need to study and prepare, so that we know how to take care of basic illnesses and injuries, instead of running to the doctor for everything.

That’s where a good survival first-aid kit comes in. It’s hard to treat anyone if you don’t have the right equipment and supplies to work with. Oh, you could do some makeshift bandages and herbal medicines, but that just increases the amount of knowledge you need to have, in order to deal with the problems.

I prefer to build my own survival first-aid kit, rather than buying them for two reasons. One is that most survival first-aid kit you can buy are not all that complete, especially for larger injuries, unless they were designed for professionals. The second reason is that I have found that it is worthwhile to spend the extra money on high quality medical supplies, rather than the inexpensive ones. The high quality ones just work better.

Any survival first aid kit needs to be well organized, so the starting place is in having a good container to put it all in. your typical soft-sided duffel bag doesn’t have a lot of pockets, so while the soft-sides work well, the lack of organization could slow you down in a crisis. I look for a soft-sided bag that has lots of pockets, and then I add dividers on the inside.

The Basics:

From headaches to inflammation and diarrhea, minor infections and small cuts, your basics has it covered. Your basics will be the most used medical resources in your survival kit. So, make sure that they are the most accessible and easy to find. Also, be sure to pack extra.

Most of your basic medical needs can be bought at drugstores or pharmacies. So, you should have no trouble assembling the contents for this section.

Example of Basic Tools and Over-The-Counter Medications:

  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Q-Tips
  • Large trauma shears
  • Nail clippers
  • Scissors
  • Scalpel with blades
  • Stethoscope
  • Ibuprofen (Advil), 20+
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol), 15+
  • Aspirin, 15+
  • Anti-histamine, x10
  • Immodium/Loperamide, x10
  • Sudafed (or an equivalent), x10
  • Throat lozenges, 10+
  • Bismuth tabs, x20
  • Oral rehydration, x3
  • Cranberry extract, x10
  • Dramamine, x10
  • Stool softener (laxative), x15
  • Antibiotic ointment (Neosporin or equivalent)
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Miconazole/Anti-fungal
  • SoftSoap: For wound cleaning

Trauma (injury) medical supplies needed:

The trauma supplies form the backbone of the survival first-aid kit. That’s because other than dysentery, there isn’t as much risk of getting sick as there is a risk of being injured.

  • Sam splint – This is an aluminum and foam rubber laminate, which can easily be cut and formed to use as a splint for any broken or sprained limb
  • Elastic bandages – Used to support strained or sprained joints. Also useful for holding the Sam splint in place
  • Butterfly sutures – Unless you know how to suture a wound, these will work much better for closing an open cut or wound.
  • Wound irrigation syringe & purified water – To flush out debris from wounds, ensuring that there is nothing left that can cause infection
  • Alcohol wipes – for cleaning small wounds and the skin around them
  • Antiseptic cream – For preventing infection of wounds
  • Super-sized sanitary napkins – Make excellent bandages for large wounds, they are sterile and designed to absorb a lot of blood
  • Cloth adhesive bandage strips – Cloth bandages are flexible, so they won’t pull off if you move. They protect better and last longer than the plastic ones do
  • Cloth knuckle bandages – Special bandages, designed to hold the gauze pad over a cut knuckle. Regular adhesive bandages come off knuckles when you flex your finger
  • 2″x 3″ bandages – For covering slightly larger wounds
  • Medical tape – I prefer the new cohesive tape, which is a piece of elasticized rubber. The tape is stretched when applied; as it retracts, it sticks to itself, not the skin
  • Blood clotting agent – There are several of these on the market. They can either be separate granules or enclosed in a bandage. They encourage fast clotting of wounds to reduce bleeding; leading to quicker recovery.
  • Dental repair paste – Used to cover up chips in teeth that are sensitive and painful

You obviously want several of each item, especially the various types of bandages. I keep my first-aid kit stocked and then have a box of extras, which can be used to restock my kit.

Medical Equipment

In addition to the trauma supplies shown above, there are a few pieces of medical equipment you should have in your survival first aid kit. These will help you diagnose problems and take care of the sick and wounded.

  • Rubber gloves – So that you don’t infect the patient and the patient doesn’t infect you
  • Sharp tweezers & eye loupe – For removing splinters and debris from wounds
  • Eye cup & optic solution – For cleaning things out of eyes
  • Medical scissors – For removing bandages
  • Hemostats – For blocking off veins and arteries that are cut and bleeding excessively.
  • Large bandana – Can be used as a sling for a sprained, wounded or broken arm
  • Strap tourniquet – Make sure it is the kind that can be operated one-handed, in case you have to use it on yourself
  • Wound irrigation syringe & purified water – To flush out debris from wounds, ensuring that there is nothing left that can cause infection
  • Thermometer – The electronic type that can be used for in-ear temperature is the best
  • Blood pressure monitor – For checking blood pressure. One sign of internal bleeding is loss of blood pressure
  • Glucose meter – For checking for high or low blood sugar. Low blood sugar, which can happen form a poor diet, can cause dizziness and weakness


You don’t really need a lot of medicines in your first-aid kit; but there are a few things you should have.

  • Any prescription medicines your family needs – Always keep as much of an extra stock of these as you can
  • Pain relievers – Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen
  • Antihistamine – For dealing with running noses
  • Decongestant – For dealing with clogged noses
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine – loperamide or Imodium
  • Hydrocortisone cream – for reducing itching from rashes
  • Epinephrine 1mg: Treats severeallergic reactions.
  • 1ml small syringe with needle
  • Ciprofloxacin 500mg: Treats infections, also given to individuals exposed to anthrax.
  • Azithromycin500mg: Treats atypical mycobacterial infections and bacterial infections of the heart valve.
  • Bactrim d.s. 160/800mg: Treats bacterial infections
  • Amoxicillin 500mg: Treats infections or stomach ulcers.
  • Flagyl500/400mg: Treats bacterial infections.
  • Fluconazole100mg: Prevents and treats certain fungal infections.


Good Luck

Unfortunately, building your very own survival first aid kit is not cheap. Whether you buy a premade survival  first aid kit or build one of your own, it will likely cost you a pretty penny. But be that as it may, if you find yourself needing medical treatment and if things really go from bad to worse in your outdoor adventures or at home, the survival first aid kit that you have built will be your lifeline and every cent spent completing your kit will have been well spent. As they say, a well prepared future is a worthwhile investment.

But under the luckiest circumstances, your first aid medical kit will just gather dust where you have stored it and hope that it remains that way for the longest time. Emergencies are never fun most especially when a family member or a friend is involved. Any day that you need to bring out and use your survival first aid kit is a bad day. So, it’s always best to be prepared and always be safe.

For starters, here are the basic 15 items that should be found in a first aid kit.

  1. 4×4 gauze pads – You can use these for making bandages, cleaning your wound, or making a large band aid.
  2. 2×2 gauze pads – 2×2 gauze pads are easier to use when treating a wound. You don’t have to cut it like the 4×4 gauze pads, the size is just right to make a bandage. Cutting gauze pads can cause fibers from getting into an open wound.
  3. Silvasorb Gel – Silvasorb gel is an ointment that you can use for treating wounds, burns, and from preventing infection. This gel does not sting and is breathable. It also has silver which is an antimicrobial and antibacterial. This gel might be expensive but you can use this to treat a lot of wounds.
  4. Isopropyl Alcohol – Isopropyl alcohol is a good item to put in your first aid kit. A bottle of 16 oz. alcohol is already enough, but it is better if you add some more. You can also add alcohol pads. Alcohol can also be used as fuel for cooking. Check out this post here.
  5. Hydrogen Peroxide – You can use this item in cleaning wounds or rinse your mouth for a tooth abscess or for brushing your teeth. Make sure to use diluted hydrogen peroxide not full strength.
  6. Band aid – Band aids are cheap so you can buy several boxes and put them in your first aid kit. Having band aids can be useful to cover cuts, scraps and other wounds.
  7. Thermometer – This is a very important item to have in your first aid kit and you need it to check temperatures.
  8. Maxi Pads – You can use maxi pads for large wounds with severe bleeding because they are thick and absorbent.
  9. Ace Wrap – Ace wrap is used to support injuries like a sprain or a strain or secure a splint.
  10. Adaptic Dressings – Adaptic dressings are good to use for bleeding wounds and burns because it doesn’t stick and it will not trap moisture in your wound.
  11. Vapor Rub – Vapor rub is used for decongesting and killing toe nail fungus.
  12. Ibuprofen – Ibuprofen is used as a pain reliever and helps minimize swelling. Do not take ibuprofen if you are treating an injury, it can interfere from healing your injury.
  13. Benadryl – Add Benadryl in your first aid kit, you can use it to treat allergic reactions.
  14. Bandage Scissors – Use bandage scissors to cut bandages, do not use regular scissors that you use when cutting papers. Bandage scissors are much safer to use when removing a dressing because of its shear blades.
  15. Medical Tape – Use medical tape to seal off the edge of a bandage or gauze pads.

Good luck out there!


1 Comment

  1. Bobby Saint on November 1, 2017 at 7:51 am

    I appreciate you providing some of the basic tools or medications you can include when making your own first-aid kit such as prescription medicines, pain relievers, and decongestants. This should come in handy especially if your family is going on a trip. It is always good to be prepared in the event that a member of the family suddenly catches a cold or needs immediate medication while on the road. I will make sure to always pack my first-aid kit every time we go on a trip. Thanks.

Leave a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest