30 Things you should have in your Emergency First Aid Kits

First Aid Kit

When it comes to survival gear, first aid kits are one of the most overlooked preparedness items out there. I know, they aren’t as fun to talk about as survival knives, bug out bags, and firearms; but when it comes to practical emergency preparedness items, the reality of the situation is that your medical bag is probably going to get more use that any other items in your survival stash.

If you haven’t dedicated time to really making sure your first aid needs are covered, you need to rethink your preparedness planning and do some serious work on making sure your first aid needs are covered.

What items go into a First Aid Kit?

A good first aid kit is always developed around your unique medical needs. There is no one size fits all solution, so every bag should be customized to deal with the most likely medical emergencies that you might experience. That means taking an inventory of who is in your household, what medications they are taking, what health problems they may have, and what you need to help them survive during times of crisis. While every kit is going to be a bit different, there are some things that every bag should have.

Here are the top items that we include in our first aid kit list; these medical items should be the foundation that your bag is built upon, and will help you get going.

Have a Way to Stop bleeding and Close Wounds

Every good medical kit should have items that can be used to help stop bleeding, close and protect cuts, and help prevent infection from setting in.

  • Duct Tape: Yes, duct tape. It can be a life saver when trying to treat a cut or wound when medical help may be too far away to reach quickly. Duct tape can quickly and safely pull together an open wound, and can buy you the time you need to reach medical help.
  • Butterfly Sutures: Another great way to close up small wounds is to use something know as a butterfly suture. These types of adhesive strips pull the edges of a small cut together in the same way as a doctor’s stitches.

When using duct tape or butterfly sutures to close a wound, make sure you carefully clean the wound and wash out any foreign materials or debris. If you have any kind of antiseptic, apply it to the wound and dry the area. Start in the middle of the wound and apply the strips, pulling the cut together as tightly as possible. Work your way towards the edges, gently bringing the two sides together and taping them shut.

Don’t Forget to Include Ways to Prevent Infection

During a survival situation, where sanitation issues may become a problem, keeping your wounds clean and covered is critical to preventing problems. Infection can set in quickly, so you need to stay on top of any open cuts. That means it’s important to carry the following items:

  • Gauze
  • Adhesive wound dressings
  • Antibiotic ointments and creams
  • Broad spectrum oral Antibiotics – This may be difficult to come by since you need a prescription, but some doctors may be willing to prescribe them as a preventative measure if you’re going to be on an extended trip out in the wilderness. Erythromycin, Ciprofloxacin, and Amoxicillin are all broad spectrum antibiotics.
  • Antiseptics and Disinfectants – Peroxide, Isopropyl Alcohol, PVP Iodine Ampules and Antiseptic wipes are all things that need to be in your kit.

Pain Management Items

Depending on your condition, pain can be a debilitating and even deadly thing if it causes you to lose hope or give up. Having a way to treat and manage pain, as well as decrease inflammation, is an important part of every emergency first aid kit.

  • Aspirin, Tylenol or Ibuprofen
  • Codeine or some type of pain killer
  • Chemical Ice Bags
  • Lidocaine

Dealing with Allergies

Even if you don’t think you have allergies, certain things can still cause an allergic reaction. In some cases, especially in people who have food allergies, allergens can cause life-threatening anaphylaxis reactions that need to be treated immediately.

  • Antihistamine – Benadryl, otherwise known by its generic name Diphenhydramine HCl, is one of the best antihistamines on the market and is something that should be part of everyone’s kit.
  • Antihistamine creams
  • EpiPen or Epinephrine – For those with a life-threatening allergy, having an EpiPen with you at all times is essential. They can help stop an anaphylaxis reaction and buy you time until medical help arrives.

Items Specific to Your Unique Medical Needs

No one kit is right for every person. That’s why special attention needs to be put into developing a kit for yourself and your loved ones. I advise staying away from prepackaged kits unless you’re using it as a foundation to build your kit.

  • Make sure your kit is stocked with extra prescription medications if you have a medical condition that requires you to take medication.
  • OTC Meds – If you routinely take Over the Counter medications to treat conditions like arthritis, nausea, etc., make sure you have an ample supply of them in your bag.

Your Kit should also contain at least some of the following items:

  • Emergency dental kit
  • Sterile needles and surgical blades.
  • Splints – SAM and air splints
  • Quick Clot Gauze
  • Grooming and cleaning tools – Fingernail clippers, soap, Antiseptic wipes.
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Disposable thermometers
  • Disposable gloves
  • Sterile eyewash & eye dressings
  • Sunblock
  • Vaseline
  • Burn creams and dressings
  • Medical manuals and basic first aid instructions.

What do you have in your medical kit?

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    • I my kids and grandchildren all have some different allergies, irritants, sleep apnea and asthma. My biggest concern pertaining to the kit list is the IODINE. PLEASE everyone use Benadine or clean water NOT IODINE. Iodine is made from SHELLFISH and there are a LOT of people allergic to anything seafood. NO LATEX GLOVES EITHER PLEASE! NO LATEX BANDAGES TOO! A lot of people are allergic or find very irritating many soaps, some people cannot use Hand SANITIZERS on their skin. Two of my kids are allergic to APPLE, LATEX. One is Highly allergic to seafood, cherries, apple, ect. I am allergic to wheat, yeast, coconut and latex. My grandchildren and one of my kids has asthma. Two grandkids have sleep apnea and have to use a cpap at night to sleep, they both got one way before the age of six. So can someone come up with a fairly easy tool or way to make a cpap for all to use that need it when we do NOT have electricity, distilled water, ect. DO NOT EVEN SUGGEST THOSE STUPID MOUTH GAURD THINGS THEY ARE ADVERTIZING ON THE INTERNET. Thank you in advanced from a concerned mom and grandmother.

        • Seems like they are just points to think about.Possibly things that might not pertain to you or I but if we’re on an outing and god forbid you are called to help someone else who we don’t know it can be lifesaving.

      • Umm how about this? I put into my first aid kit what works best for me and you do the same for yourself…

      • If you mean Betadine that is Iodine as well.
        Handsanitzers are excellent if you do not have access to regular water & soap. After the #1 in it is alcohol some have aloe which are a little less drying.

      • I know this is old, but being at the top of the page, I hate that it is passing terribly untrue information. Being allergic to shellfish does not make one allergic to Iodine. Iodine is in fact perfectly safe for most who are allergic to shellfish.

        • That is absolutely correct and also applies to IV iodine contrast for xray or CT, seafood allergies do not automatically mean allergy to iodine. But here’s the thing—if in an emergency situation, why take the chance, just use Hibiclens.

      • Every medical emergency is different- I think what is most important is that you have knowledge. I talk to people about their health in a professional setting all day long and the thing is people don’t have a clue how to help themselves. Like this poor couple with sick grandchildren. You should have a clue what to do about your family situation. Yes there are answers. Six year olds should not have sleep apnea. Now would be a great time to research that and not rely on an overly busy doctor or others to be prepared for that matter. What you choose to prepare is for you and your family. Your unique needs. If you thing you can dictate what others do because of your needs, your not taking responsibility. Learn. If you do have supplies, learn how to use them. Right now we have a overabundance of knowledge at our fingertips. Don’t just buy a first aid guide. READ it , take a class. Fill your mind with that which could soon be gone. Stop making excuses and do.

      • In regards to the clap you can get battery or car charger adapter for the clap and then use a battery or one of those battery jumper units. I used this at my cabin when I didn’t have exlecteicity. Will last you a few days fore needing recharging.

      • This might sound a little cold, but from your reply, Tomi, I get the impression you might not have ever heard it before:
        The world is not here to serve *you* and to cater to *your* needs.
        If you and your children are allergic to everything under the sun, then your knowledge of this fact should enable *you* to make appropriate preparations while you have the time so that you won’t have to be picky and choosy in the off chance that a good Samaritan appears and happens to have a first aid kit when you or they are in need.

      • The items you put in your first aid kit should be used on you. If you are in an emergency situation, use the other guys FA supplies on him and yours on yourself. This serves two purposes. First, you don’t use up your stuff and then get caught without when you need it. Also, you pack the items that you are not allergic to.

      • At this point you use what you get your hands on. These are personal kits. Everyone knows their allergies.

    • tomi I know your kids are allergic but it does not mean that I am allergic.my brother is allergic to milk.there is this company that can STOP YOUR ALLERGIC.try it you have to get some shots but it is so worth it my friend was allergic to milk and she did it and now she is not allergic try it.look it up on the internent to see for your self

    • Correct. Cyanocrylate was originally manufactured for closing surgeries.. until it was discovered that Doctors were getting stuck to the patients… one thing led to another.. Voila!.. Superglue

      • I have six children. All but one of them have been repaired by super glue. The first two went to the ER and the doctor cleaned the wound and glued it. We haven’t been back to the ER since. Now it’s almost like a badge of courage, the kids think it’s awesome that they get to use super glue on their cuts. It’s so easy to do my kids have done it themselves.

      • Use it all the time. The Doctor said that the glue they used at the hospital was the same as regular superglue except it was coloured purple so they could see it better, to make sure it was covering the would properly.

      • Stings no worse that alcohol, I had my dog cut his paw open once, while back packing, and had little option to use super glue. Worked great and he handled it well

    • only real worry with superglue is making certain you wash and clean the cut as well as you can. in an end-of-the-world scenario you dont want to have to deal with an infection on a closed wound if you can avoid it. always remember the small bottle of hydrogen peroxide, or alcohol wipes, or at least good clean water and soap. before you glue it!

    • Yes it is, BUT do not get near the eye….true story, at the ER, took my son for a cut above the eye, Doctor used “superglue” to close the cut and the glue dripped into his eye. Long story short, immediately took him to our Ophthalmologist and his eye was fine after being flushed for 1 hour, BUT he said that had we not gotten him in, the glue would have hardened and he would have lost his sight…….

      • I certainly hope it’s not carcinogenic, and I very much doubt it. Reason being, I had a full ceramic hip replacement in 2009 when I was 38 at Wrightington Hospital (where the hip replacement was pioneered by Mr Charnley). It’s the centre of excellence for the western world. Anyway back to the point, my incision was super glued up all 10″ of it or so, bar two stitches, one at the top and the other at the bottom of the incision. The scar is like somebody made a line with a red ball point pen, virtually non existent compared to the others left by my local hospital after 3 other ops on my hips, and they have had the best part of 30 years to heal and disappear, so yes, Superglue is an excellent addition for a first aid kit when used correctly.

    • literature summary of this issue from”wise guy website”:
      Using superglue to close a wound is possible, but not advisable. While using glue that you can buy in the store to close a wound would work, it also may produce extreme skin irritation and skin death when purchased in over-the-counter form. There are medical superglues that are often used in place of stitches to close certain types of wounds.

      Superglue is made of a substance called cyanoacrylate. When it comes into contact with liquids like water, it forms a plastic mesh that will keep skin, or anything someone wants glued, neatly bonded together. Regular superglue has methyl alcohol, however, which creates heat in order to produce the bonding effect. Using this type of glue to close a wound in deep tissue could result in killing some of the surrounding skin cells.

      It is true that the US military used superglue to close wounds during the Vietnam War. Most of the studies of problems resulting from use were recorded during this time. It is likely that doctors did save many lives with this procedure, however, because it gave them time to transport patients to M.A.S.H. units where they could have needed surgery.

    • In the Er we used pretty much “super glue” in an expensive but it works best on areas like finger,toes, hands (smaller lacerations)

      • After surgery, glue was used on my lower leg, from my ankle to my knee, to close an incision. Every time I took a step, it started to pull apart. It took a very long time for the incision to heal because it was in motion much of the time. I wouldn’t use it unless desperate.

  1. All the above plus: B-P cuff, stethoscope; splints (made of 1/4″ mesh wire w/duct-taped edges; Neosporin (anti-bacterial); face masks; airway rebreather tube kit; mouthguard (for M2M); rubberized chest apron; alcohol wipes; mercurochrome iodide; emergency blanket; only one EMT field guide; a few other ‘small’ items too numerous to mention.

      • Except it makes an exceptional tourniquet. Of course if you’re in a situation requiring a tourniquet you had better be close to an ER otherwise it’s moot.

        • Works great as a tourniquet. I you have abilities to start a line best tourniquet I’ve used in 28yrs. And the obvious-bleeding. If u have fluids u can use it to replace them faster by using stethoscope.

          • I meant BP cuff buta cheap stethoscope would be good to pack too! Anybody can listen to a heart beat w/one w/o any training too.

        • Let me be the first here to say

          You are an idiot

          “essential” oils are snake oil, and while “whole” foods dont hurt you, they are in no way a replacement for actual medical care or medication. Please keep this hippy dippy crap to places that wont actually affect other peoples lives.

          • What nonsense. Food was the first medicine known to man. Modern medical care is what is used when the body/being is sick and at dis-ease. If one is sick it is because that have not been in good health to start with; the notion that if you are sick, you have messed up some how. True health is predicated upon the ability to a.) block disease, b.)prevent disease from taking hold and c.) get rid of disease quickly if it takes hold. This is accomplished by having a strong, fit and integrated vessel in the first place. The food one eats, the things one puts into one’s body effects all of this. Herbs and essential oils work and are real and pre-date modern medical by several thousand years and is in fact the first ‘medicine’. Do you really think that pharmaceutical companies actually come up with these medicines chemically alone? They don’t. The essential compound come from the rain forest. So if you think that you can eat fast food frequently and live healthy you are wrong.

          • Food is not medicine, it’s not a wonder drug. If that was a fact, people would have never died before modern medicine. The story in which you tell is like abnormalist said, snake oil salesman. If all we need to do is eat “healthy ” foods, no Medicine would ever be need. I will say certain foods will mess with some people’s health but I wouldn’t recommend the ” junk food is satan ” routine of whole foods. If that’s all you ever needed was essential oils; cancer, MS, polio, etc wouldn’t exist, and that’s just a load of bull pucky.

          • Pharmaceutical companies create customers, not cures!

            Physical health is 1 core component to defeating sickness.

            Mental health is the other…

            Nowadays we now know a lot more about natural remedies and how effective it could have been for our native ancestors.


          • Debbie is correct, and you need to go back on your mind altering drugs. I use wild crafted oil of oregano (one drop under tongue) at the onset of any cold or sore throat and have not been sick in years. Also use tea tree oil on any minor cut or cat scratch and it heals fast with no infection. Peppermint essential oil mixed with olive oil on temple for headaches. Small bottles fit well in first aid kits. Plus many more.

    • Most anti-biotics such as amoxicillin, tetracycline, doxycycline, augmentin have a several year “best used by date” not to mention studies show that if stored properly they are good for several years afterwards. Get a good prepper book on emergency meds and look up fish antibiotics on eBay. Honey may be ok for cuts and burns but it’s not gonna help sepsis or cellulitis.

      • East & westers med can save your life. Child has asthma & no ihaler in site? Few drops of eucalyptus, peppermint oil mixed w/vaseline=vapo rub but lots cheaper. Few drops over boiling water-towel over their head-can b a life saver. Don’t forget hot cup of coffee helps things too. Insects eating u to death try citronella oil othets respond well to cedarwood oil. Peppermint helps w/indigestion. No antibiotics-Golden Seal & Echinacea are natures antibiotics. Actually worked for me when an antibiotic didn’t. Nothing to bring a fever down-aspirin is made straight from Willow bark that you can make a tea out of !

    • FYI…FEMA which stockpiles large amounts of antibiotics, used to replace them quite often, at huge cost. They funded a study and found that most antibiotics in tablet or caplet form, retained pharmacological and therapeutic effectiveness for up to 5 years beyond the manufacturers expiration dates. None were found to degrade in a medically deleterious manner. Therefore, in a SHTF situation, the medically indicated use of such expired date antibiotics could be life saving, and in the worst case, they may have no effect at all. This was NOT found to be the case for liquid form medications of all sorts, which generally lost therapeutic value and may become otherwise harmful when used beyond manufacturer expiration dates.

      • I believe that is true for most antibiotics, but I think tetracycline becomes toxic as it breaks down. I would check on that before stocking up on tetracycline.

    • If we are at the point of needing survival gear/supplies/equipment, are we going to worry about getting arrested for posessing it? I would be more concerned with getting killed by someone who wants it.

      • This is so true and funny – always a good idea to keep your eye
        on the BIGGER PICTURE and don’t sweat the small stuff.

        I have YUNNAI PAIYAO in my emergency kit – it is a Chinese Herb used to stop the bleeding, pain and swelling immediately. Comes in little ball pills or powder. This a life saver.

        Another herb is CURING PILLS for stomach problems.

        YIN CHIAO pills are great for balancing the system just when you begin to feel something coming on. Two compressed pills usually do the trick before bedtime.

        Ask for these at any Asian market or buy it online.

        A favorite homeopathic remedy is Oscillococcinum by Boiron.
        This too, is great to take just when a sore throat, flu or cold is coming on. Ten Tiny white pills wipe out that symptom so nothing continues to magnify into real discomfort. I take it before boarding a flight to ward off the air-borne germs that are flying around the cabin.

    • Are you joking? Go back to law school mate. You can drown someone to keep yourself afloat and alive, explain that one.

    • Not a felony to but fishmox and other antibiotic pills from your local pet supply store. It is the exact same stuff in smaller doses with out having a presciption.

    • No it’s not against the law. Lord have mercy. It’s against the law to take a medication written from a prescription that isn’t in your name…if they piss test you…with probable cause…or under a previously signed contract.

  2. If you live in a rural area, join the fire dept, and or ambulance dept. you’ll get a free education and learn absoulute invaluable info, techniques,and experience in fire fighting, rescue, and EMS..And, you’ll be doing the BEST thing for your community !

    • You are incredibly right. And it doesn’t have to be rural, in the U.S. at least, only major metropolitan areas have a fully paid service. So cities and small counties with large populations (normally around cities). Your local fire department can provide very cheap or free education in first aid or basic medical care as well as access to smaller medical supplies like gauz and bandages. Highly suggested.

  3. All that stuff is fine and dandy but you should get the knowledge to use it befor you buy it. First aid classes and CPR classes are nearly free through the red cross…Taking EMT classes at a comunity college would be very helpful.

    • and its usually free. you just need to join a volunteer rescue squad. I became a paramedic for absolutely no money. The rescue squad will “sponsor” you and the community college doesnt charge you.

    • Dirty hands are a major source of infection, particularly gastrointestinal infections (traveller’s diarrhoea). People are always picking things up, touching things and then eating without a thought.

      This can be risky. Clean hands are therefore extremely important out in the field before doing any food or water prep. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water is not always possible and a real faff if you are having to sterilise water to do it.

      Either there is no soap and water, the water is not reliable or there is no clean towel available. For all those moments when there is no soap and water available, Care Plus® Clean Disinfect Gel is the solution.

      It is a softening and cleansing antibacterial gel that protects your hands against harmful outside influences. Care Plus® Clean Disinfect Gel eliminates 99.9% of all harmful germs on your hands. Contents: a handy pocket size 30ml ml.

      Ideal for use especially post and prior to prepping game and food, dressing injuries or sterilizing water.

      This gel also makes a great addition to a fire lighting kit as it is alcohol based.

  4. I am a trained nurse,Paramedic and combat medic (UK) so i carry a comprehensive kit. I would add tampons,panty liners heavy absorbency, which make great wound plugs like gauze, and dressings. They have many other uses too,tampons for fire starting. Petroleum jelly as a sealant,also added to cotton wool a long burn firestarter, steristrips and tinc benzoin for wounds, safety pins, potassium permanganate crystals (add to sugar firestarter),add to water purple dye signal, or antifungal for feet)

    • HI Jay Cee,

      Your list makes the most sense of the things a good first aid Kit should have, and in case of shortages of basic medicines. I will be stocking the things you have mentioned and also a lot of good other items some people have added. I have no medical background whatsoever can you explain what does the purple dye gel do by adding it to to water? any brand name or universal one to get? I do have a suggestion to add to the First aid kit and that is what we call Alum powder? My dad had this Alum stone which he would use after he had had shaved and cut himself. It was like a magic stone and it would stop the bleeding immediately. I think a good Tweezer is also a good addition to the Kit. Thank you for all for the great advice.

  5. small wooden tongue depressors (or popsicle type sticks)for finger splints, thermometer strip type, 4 triangular bandages minimum, 4 crepe support bandages,blister kit-molefoam, moleskin,occlusive dressing, plastic bags (can be used for sucking chest wound also)(if you dont have asherman seals etc),burn jel and dressings,(burns are common outdoors),2 pairs artery forceps 1 straight 1 curved many uses,1 needle holder forcep easier to suture if you know how,useful also for sewing repairs,Iodine and eye dropper (water purification), small lighter for sterilising needles, nitrile gloves at least 4 pairs, sterile plastic dressing forceps (tweezers) for wound cleaning using cotton balls or gauze swabs

    • Was an EMT for a time in the US, a 3m wound stapler may be a good investment when you can’t use sutures, i.e. on yourself without help.

  6. The medical kit you describe is an excellent baseline of products that are needed. I have read some of the other comments and I agree with jay cee. The items described are a great complement to the baseline you describe. I believe that the superglue, stapler, and RX antibiotics. I think you have to prepare for minimum of 72 hours of emergency care.

    • Carolyn, that all depends on your skill level. Just a book won’t help if you have little or no hands on experience. So let’s say you start out with American Red Cross First Aid course and go from there. Then you can get into more advanced training and books. I.E. Medicine for Mountaineering, Emergency War Medicine, ect.

    • Pick up a copy of “Mountaneering Medicine” by Dr. Fred Darvill- it’s written for anybody with a reasonable amount of commen sense, and contains a list for a medical kit that is a great place to start.

  7. I really suggest having a snake bite removal kit (I would put at LEAST 2 in my kit just depends on how much my pack weighs (They are not very heavy) I would like to have a bakers dozen)

    • Consensus by experts in wilderness medicine suggests that kits like the “extractor” do nothing to treat envenomations. The appropriate anti venom is the only definitive treatment….just don’t get bit again by it cause it only works once.

      • Just because this looks like a good place to put this…

        A myth about snake bites says to apply a turniqute. Dont. The bitten area will swell regardless and you can create larger problems such as burst blood vessels and killing tissues. The best thing like others have said is have the antivenom. When bitten the damage is done trying to keep it from spreading won’t help.

        This is in accordance with the Maryland State EMS Protocols 2015. In case you needed verification

        • Agree..another one if someone is having a seizure don’t stick anything in there mouth to keep them from “swallowing their tongue” They won’t sallow their tongue. #1until seizure has stopped prevent them from hurting themselves from hitting things around them. Recovery position L side.

  8. not going to lie, looking at this list its very comprehensive but a lot of this stuff is not really suitable for first aiders, and also i see a lot of stuff that wouldn’t be available without a prescription

    • In the US only 3 of the items would need a prescription. Codeine, Epipen, and the antibiotics. There are plenty of OTC painkillers that would work in a pinch. An Epipen would be great, and if you or a family member have asthma or bee sting reations, you most likely have a prescription already. There are plenty of animal grade antibiotics on the market, but without knowing exactly what strain of infection you are dealing with it is kind of pointless, or possibly dangerous. Maybe learn how to run Gram stain tests and ID the bug and have a reference book to determine the proper antibiotic.

    • Activated charcoal is good for neutralizing ingested chemicals. Situations include: over doses on asprin, nyquill, etc. It wouldn’t be terrible to have but I wouldn’t make it a priority

  9. In my med bag is almost everything as this one. But a few particular items I bring for not me but my friends and family. Contact casings and contact solution. As well as Witch Hazel. At my Wal*mart they have it there looking like Alcohol but in yellow not red, next to the Peroxide.

  10. The first thing I added to my kit that I’ve NEVER seen anyone mention – a spare (cheap) pair of GLASSES! Just a pair of readers from the dollar store, but if I wouldn’t be able to do anything if I didn’t have my specs, and this way I can guarantee I’ll be able to see what I’m doing.

    • Oddly, I have my old pair in my go bag, with clip on polarizedsunglasses. My thought, if something happens and I’m wearing my contacts, I have a few days before I’d be blind as a bat!!!!

  11. I see a lot of survival websites suggesting prescription painkillers and antibiotics, how is someone supposed to procure these? I’ve spoken to different doctors and telling them that I wanted them for a med kit wasn’t sufficient enough for a script.

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