I’ve really not wanted to write this article…I mean really not. From the previous articles on first aid kits you can tell I am way more a tactical first aid kind of guy. I subscribe to that model and believe in it. However, the time has come that I go a little more conventional when talking about first aid kits. And there is good reason for it…”emergencies.”
Emergencies are the incidents that are categorized on the first level of emergency preparedness. Previously I outlined the BOK (Blow Out Kit) and the IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) for individuals all the way up to the larger (FTCK) Field Trauma Care Kit. However, not all injuries occur in the field or during an incident so another type of first aid kit is needed…more along the lines of a home or family first aid kit. In the past I pretty much left it up to individuals to decide what to put in their home kits. Well, I that just seriously changed.
Why? As I was preparing to do a presentation the other day to a group of about 50 women I was utterly astounded by what I was seeing. I mean the various lists of kit contents was unreal. Some were regurgitation of other online lists, some were just lists of whatever was in the Walmart aisle. There were a couple that looked like someone’s random ADD thoughts. So I made the decision to work on what I thought would be the best all-round Family Home Fist Aid Kit (FHFAK).
“Kit shall contain ample first aid supplies to provide sufficient medical care to a wide range of home-based minor and life-threatening medical emergencies.”
Requirements and Restrictions –
- Assumption that professional medical transport and care facilities are within a reasonable time-frame that life-sustaining measures by family members are not required beyond 15 minutes.
- Must be reasonably weather resistant.
- Must be reasonably capable of handling a drop of 3’.
- Supplies must be easily accessible.
- Supplies must be able to be grouped into logical treatment clusters.
- Supplies can normally be restocked within 12 hour time-frame.
The first thing that came to my mind when viewing this FHFAK was that is was not intended to be a medical supply warehouse. This kit is not meant to provide for mass casualties, not a warehouse, not meant to last for a year without being restocked, and not meant to cover every possible scenario. This was an immediate action first aid kit to be used by a family around the house.
With that being said, I still wanted this kit to work within the realm of emergency preparedness and into my layers methodology for injury and sickness. <click here to read more about that> I feel I’ve accomplished both, here’s why…
- The kit falls within the “emergency” category of emergencies, disasters and grid-down incidents which this website is based on.
- It expands past the “individual” layer of “Threat of injury or sickness” but nestles in nicely with the family layer and used on an everyday basis.
- The kit can also be used in any emergency, disaster and grid-down incidents as an immediate action bag or at a much lower level such as pulling a splinter from a finger.
In emergency services we referred to our “kits” as jump bags; we would grab the bag as we jumped off the fire engine into action. This kit is a family/home jump bag that can be grabbed whenever there is an injury within the family around the house. Same could be said if the family was camping, traveling, etc.
Man, I hope that clarifies what I envision this bag being used for. It took me a whole lot of writing to make my case and provide my vision for this bag.
First thing I had to do before simply starting to list the kit contents was to envision what kind of medical emergencies would show up at home among family members. To get that list going I used my experience from being on the fire department and a father of a family with three kids. Once I got that list of medial “emergencies” figured out, the contents list just really flowed. But, it was a jumbled mess of a list at first.
Taking the confusion and clutter out of the matter wasn’t too difficult, I just organized it in logical groups. And those groups are based on injuries I treated on the street. No, I won’t be offended if you group your supplies differently.
Once I had the contents and the groups figured out, I had to decide how to carry all of this stuff around and make it all readily accessible under stress. Now, before you chuckle that let me explain. In my early days on the fire department we carried our medical supplies in basically large plastic fishing tackle boxes. And those supplies looked all pretty and organized. However, kneeling in the street next to a vehicle accident patient as they were bleeding was a whole different story. And to make that story a lot shorter…many times we would dump the contents on the pavement so the supplies were easier to see and grab.
So my experience tells me…make this stuff easy to see and easy to grab when working under stress.
Once again I went back to what I know worked…and worked successfully for years under real-life conditions. I decided on an actual medical kit jump bag. I found a used one which made it that much more affordable. The bags go by a number of different names; EMS bag, rescue bag, first responder bag, etc. I have included pictures of a number of them. There are two basic style for the most part, with and without external pockets. I like the external pocket for organizational purposes. When I start showing where I place the kit contents it will make more sense. But essentially I keep the most needed supplies in external pockets where they are easiest and quickest to get to.
Example: The vinyl gloves are in an outside pocket since I probably need to get those first before providing care to the patient. Also, I want the CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) readily accesible on the outside where I can grab it easily since I may need to stop the bleeding really quickly. The triple-antibiotic ointment is on the inside in an internal pocket because it would be needed towards the end of treatment.
A principle that I subscribe to is “severity & probability”, that is part of Risk Management. The same principle applies to the medical needs you might run into around the home. There is literally a never-ending list that we could draw-up, but practicality needs to play a role as well. Yes, we could well find ourselves in a “non-breather” situation. That would be an example of a low probability & high severity situation. While you might want to consider airways, an AED, and all other manner of medical equipment…it simply isn’t needed. Why? Remember, we are only trying to sustain life until the next level of medical care can arrive on-scene. And we placed a “within 15 minute” limitation on that. So knowing CPR would cover the need vs. expensive equipment that may never be used.
While all that extra equipment might be nice to have, it isn’t really necessary for the kit I am talking about. Example: airways…you must maintain that specialty skill (airway insertion) to be able to properly use airways such as the OPA or NPA airway devices. And realistically, if you need to use an airway, by the time you figured that out and began that procedure, the EMTs or Paramedics are probably rolling up to the front door.
Now, if you live out in the country, the mountains, or on a rural farm, you may want to consider additional equipment that require more advanced skills. That is perfectly acceptable but use commonsense and logic when assessing those issues.
Here are my groupings of medical needs/supplies–
- Cuts & Bleeding
- Wound Treatment
And here is my list of kit contents based on those medical needs –
Cuts & Bleeding –
- 1 x CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet)
- 1 x Israeli Bandage Battle Dressing First Aid Compression Bandage, 4 Inch
- 1 x Dressing, 4” x 7”
- 1 x Dressing, 7-1/2″ x 8″
- 1 x Dressing, 11-3/4” x 11-3/4”
- Band aids, 25 – 50 total, your choice
- (5x) 5/8” x 5/8”
- (5x) 3/4” x 3/4”
- (5x) 1” x 1”
- (3x) 1-1/2” x 2”
- (3x) 1-3/4” x 3”
- (5x) Spots
- (5x) Fingertip
- (5x) Knuckle
- 1 x Tape, cloth, 1/2” x 10yd
- 1 x Tape, cloth, 1” x 10yd
- 5 x Pads, gauze, 2×2
- 5 x Pads, gauze, 4×4
- 1 x Gauze, roll, 2”
- 1 x Gauze, roll, 3”
- 1 x Gauze, roll, 4”
- 1 x (1-1/2″ or 2”) Non-Woven Cohesive Wrap Self Adherent Bandage
- 12 x Closures, Butterfly
- New-Skin Liquid Bandage, First Aid Liquid Antiseptic, 1 Ounce Bottle
- QuikClot Advanced Clotting Sponge, 25g or 50g
- 1 x Fox Aluminum Eye Shield
- 1 x Progressive Medical Halo Chest Seal High Performance Occlusive Dressing (2pk)
- 1 x Bandage, ACE, 3”
- 1 x Bandage, Triangular
- 1 x Splint, finger
- 1 x Splint, wire
Wound Treatment –
- 1 x Antibacterial, pain relieving, spray, (2oz – 3oz can) (Dermoplast)
- 5 x Antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram), or tube or can (Triple antibiotic)
- 5 x Antiseptic prep pads
- 1 x Hydrocortisone ointment
- 1 x BandAid Wound Wash, 6oz
- 1 x Povidone Iodine Prep Solution, 16oz
- 1 x Saline Wound Wash, can, 6oz – 7oz, (Simply Saline or NeliMed)
- 1 x Aloe Vera 100% Gel 6 – 16oz
- 1 x Adventure Medical Kits Dental Medic Kit
- Aspirin, 325mg
- Aspirin, low dose, 81mg
- Ibuprofen, 200mg
- Acetaminophen, 500mg
- 8 x Benadryl, 25mg
- Imodium A-D Anti-Diarrheal Liquid, Mint Flavor 8
- Laxative, Sennosides Stimulant Laxative, Maximum strength, 25mg
- TECNU Extreme Medicated Poison Ivy Scrub, 4 oz.
- 1 x Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets
- 1 x CPR barrier
- 1 x Hot or Cold Therapy Gel Pack – Reusable for Hot or Cold Therapy
- 5 x Gloves (latex or vinyl), pair
- 10 x Swabs, cotton, tip
- 5 x Safety Pins
- 1 x Hand Sanitizer, bottle
- 3 x Hand Sanitizer, wipes (Germ-X)
- 1 x EMT Sheers
- 1 x Tweezers
- 1 x Forceps
- 1 x Medical Forehead and Ear Thermometer (plus extra battery)
- Ear Wax Removal Syringe, 3oz, Ribbed w/Non Slip Grip
- 1 x First Aid
Next I will show you where I put each item in my bag…organization.
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