First Aid Kit
Carry and know how to use a first-aid kit, but do not let a first-aid kit give you a false sense of security. The best course of action is to always take the steps necessary to avoid injury or sickness in the first place.
I have a distaste for commercial first aid kits. Not because it is not useful, but most hikers who buy the have NO IDEA what's inside. And discovering in an emergency what its contents may lack is too late.
I use a home made one. And I know what's inside. My heavy duty ZIPLOC bag holds:
12 - 1 inch wide Band-Aids of the flexible cloth type for minor stuff ($2)
1 - sheet of Moleskin ($1) and a small folding scissors ($5) for incipient blisters
6 - 4-inch square gauze pads for big bruises ($3)
1 - triangular bandage cut from an old sheet (37 by 37 by 52) for a bandage or sling (home-made)
1 - 3 inch wide Ace bandage for sprains and support and for holding dressings in place ($6)
6 - Excedrin or Tylenol for headaches and pain ($1)
1 - 1/2 oz tube of a triple antibiotic, such as Neosporin, to reduce the chance of infection from cuts, gouges, etc suffered from falls or sharp branches ($5)
1 - sharp pointed tweezers for splinters ($4)
1 - small roll of athletic tape (better than adhesive tape because it conforms to the body contours better) ($4)
The whole thing weighs about 5 oz, takes little space in the pack and, with a little creativity can handle most of the scrapes and bangs suffered on hikes. Notice I don't bother with a variety of different sizes of Band-Aids and gauze pads. I can always make the bandages smaller (the scissors) or fold the gauzes.
Here is a cheap, simple, effective and personal kit because you built it yourself. And everything is available at the local drugstore.
Don't forget to enroll in a Basic First Aid course (about $30 from American Red Cross, see phone book) and keep yourself current with a refresher course every three years.
Jim Yuen 3/2002, updated 10/2004
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