By Contributing Writer Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Faculty member and Diversity + Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS); photograph by Brad Bonner/WMI of NOLS
You know that first aid kit stowed away in your bathroom cupboard? You know, that kit you bring with you when you’re out on an adventure, just in case? Do you know what’s in it?
Most of us give first aid mere lip service. We buy a kit and keep it around, mostly for peace of mind, keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t have the “opportunity” to use it. But in the backcountry, where help is neither a phone call nor a short drive away, you need to know not only what’s in your kit, but how to use it, when to use it, and . . . (drum roll please) what to put in it in the first place.
So if you want to be prepared to take care of that loved one in the backcountry should a medical emergency arise, here are some things you should consider packing in that first aid kit.
Disclaimer: Contents will vary depending on your trip, group size, anticipated risks, what you want to prepare to treat, your skills and knowledge, your opinions, biases, personal myths, and experiences.
1. Items to treat blisters: moleskin, second skin, blister bandages, tape, tincture of benzoin
2. Items to prevent infection: antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, ointment for rashes (cortisone cream)
3. Items to bandage small wounds: Band-Aids, 2X2s, gauze wrap
4. Items to keep wounds clean and treatment hygienic: nitrile glove, face shield
5. Training, common sense, and good judgment: None of these items will do you any good if you don’t know when to use them or how. Take a basic Wilderness First Aid class, a more rigorous Wilderness First Responder class, or read up before you pack that kit in your backpack.
Want to know what we take on extended expeditions? Check out what’s in a NOLS Field First Aid Kit.