It is critical to be prepared for the sake of you and your family. There are many emergency first aid supplies you can put together but here we will cover the top ten you should include as a first step to having a thorough first aid survival kit.
Infection Is Enemy # 1
First things first: Following any kind of accident or injury with open wounds, preventing infection is the first step to take and so we begin our list by encouraging stocking up with sterile gloves, sterile dressings, cleaning agents, soaps and antibiotic ointments. If you can get these right you or the person being treated can be on their way to a full recovery from their injury right from the start.
It’s also worth exploring the idea of learning how to make penicillin at home – this is a useful survival skill that seems crazy to do in normal times, but in survival scenarios could prove invaluable.
If you fail to have any of these steps covered, whoever is being treated (even if that’s just you treating your own injuries) can soon after have a painful and life threatening infection set in — that’s even following what we would consider to be a minor cut or even an abrasion. In third world countries just about everything around you can be dirty and contaminated in some way. Why? It’s because no one takes daily cleaning as serious as is considered normal in the West.
Rats Help Spread The Black Death
Bubonic plague was finally beaten several centuries ago when authorities finally learned that rats were a major source of the spread of the disease; previous to that, rats were taken for granted because they were everywhere. And so cleanliness soon became a way of life to help prevent plague as well as help slow down or stop the spread of other diseases and illness caused by contaminated surfaces.
No Bleach, No Sanitation In A Post Collapse World
When the world goes to Hell in a hand basket, whether that’s post collapse or post apocalypse, rats, parasites and contamination are going to go back to the way they existed in the dark ages. All will be commonplace and you better be prepared with some knowledge and essential emergency supplies (including first aid supplies) if you want to make it through the long term.
Imagine having an infection caused by the fecal matter that had collected under someone else’s fingernails for the last several days; that person is now tending to an injury you or one of your loved ones has suffered; even if their hands appear clean, common microorganisms may be waiting to be passed from their hands to other people and surfaces they come in contact with.
Even a minor injury can end up fatal without sterilized hands and sterilized survival tools and lead to…
Post Collapse Infections
Infections like: gangrene and tetanus for example. Throughout history, both gangrene and tetanus have been common infections with gangrene being the cause of many amputations; or worse, death, if an amputation doesn’t happen soon enough or is simply poorly done with a lack of sterile materials. Ever heard of trench foot?
That’s another common infection that can happen, specifically in humid or wet environments, when bacteria finds a home in skin and then breeds into a dangerous emergency that can also end in amputation.
First Step: Avoid Infection
In a land without doctors or hospitals, infection is a very dangerous threat. Don’t take the threat of infection lightly. Be prepared to properly treat your self and loved ones with …
1. Sterile gloves – SafeTouch Nitrile Exam Gloves
Sterile gloves serve as a first line of defense against infection when dealing with an open wound. Not to mention, they protect you from any pathogens that blood may be infected with.
Only wear once. Be careful not to have cuts or holes in any of these gloves that can contaminate your hands or the person you’re assisting. Since these gloves are disposable, and extremely cheap, it would be wise to purchase several boxes for a long term survival scenario — they also can be used to protect against hazardous materials like oil or gasoline when doing automotive work and in fact gloves like these are used by many industrial companies as a layer of defense for a worker’s hands. Using these gloves means less handwashing – and in a post apocalypse scenario finding a working sink to wash hands, and hand soap, may be hard to come by.
Imagine life with constantly dirty and soiled hands, including that fecal matter that can collect under fingernails, and then consider how easily viruses and bacteria are passed on to others; these gloves can help keep you and your family both from getting sick, the same kind of frequent sicknesses that plague many third world countries today.
Consider also using these gloves for skinning & butchering animals that you’ve hunted or trapped for food in order to help keep meat clean for eating and not become contaminated either by you or whomever else is doing the task. On a semi-related note, it’s also a good idea to know how to store your food safely in primitive ways to avoid the risks of eating food that’s gone bad.
Finally, in a post apocalypse, the use of outhouses, primitive plumbing, and other types of latrines will be common place. If you shelter in place at your home for any length of time, expect to have “sewer chores” as well, such as dumping chamber pots, cleaning toilet buckets with bleach, pipe assembly for primitive sewer tanks, etc. These gloves have several uses and will be invaluable on many occasions — you can’t put a price on protecting human life.
2. Sterile Dressings – Pac-Kit by First Aid Only 5-6600 Stretch Gauze Bandage
Not only is gauze used to dress wounds, but sterile dressings can also take the form of disposable diapers and feminine sanitary napkins if nothing else is available. Along with sterile gloves mentioned above, all three can be used to dress a wound and also when applying pressure to stop a bleed. Gauze sponges come in the form of 4×4 inches and other size square or rectangular pads. These work with all wound types and are useful for cleaning and dressing wounds. Gauze rolls conform to the body. This type of dressing is ideal for wounds involving the head or limbs or use as a secondary wrap over a sponge dressing. Somewhat deeper wounds that may be draining during the healing process are best treated with non-adherent wet dressings. These dressings are impregnated with Vaseline providing a moist environment to promote healing and won’t stick to the injury during dressing changes. While a gauze roll and smaller pads are ideal for some injuries, major injuries will call for larger dressings like Kendall ABD Surgical Dressing 8×10.
Cleaning agents, such as betadine, or just good ol’ soap and water are critical in preventing infection. A wound should be cleaned at the time of the injury and with each dressing change. If a wound is not too deep, using a topical antibiotic can help with further protection of infection and quicken healing time.
One of the best antibiotic ointments for wound cleansing are both Neosporin and Bactine; for many these are well known household names and you may have already used one or both on several occasions over the years.
4. Clinically Proven Herbal Supplements
Interestingly, there are a multitude of clinically proven herbal remedies that can be used in a variety of ways, including as antibiotics either by ingesting or applying topically.
Two topically applied herbs have been proven to be effective against various microbes and bacteria in clinical tests by the National Institute of Health. These are raw honey and tea tree oil.
Specifically, Revamil honey has shown to be most effective against a wider range of bacteria. Other raw honeys do indeed have antibacterial properties also, however not proven to the degree of Revamil (Read More). Even though current medical literature has a lot to say on the antibacterial properties of Revamil Honey, it seems that not a lot of people may actually know about its properties.
Tea tree oil was originally used by Aborigines of New South Wales for treatment of coughs and many other ailments. The NIH states: ‘A wealth of in vitro data now supports the long-held beliefs that TTO (Tea Tree Oil) has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.’ (Read More)
When dealing with an active infection in an emergency situation some herbs can be taken orally either eaten, as a supplement, in a tincture or a tea. Garlic, also known as Allum Sativum, is effective against a broad range of both bacteria including E. Coli, Staph and Salmonella. The only suggested way to take garlic and successfully maintain all its healing properties is by chewing raw cloves, ideally 2 or 3 daily.(Read More: Garlic, Antiviral Herbs, Herbal Antibiotic Alternatives)
Now Let’s Talk About First Aid Tools
After you’ve covered the above supplies, your kit should include bandages (not just gauze), tweezers (tweezers from a survival multi-tool will suffice in a pinch), a thermometer and even a sewing kit. Why a sewing kit? It is entirely reasonable to use one on an injury that otherwise would have been stitched up at the ER. Obviously, this is only for an emergency situation. (In a pinch, if you have one of these best survival bracelets that we recommend, if you cut the paracord, one of the internal filaments is usually a thread that is appropriate to use as a sewing line – you just need a needle and you’ll be good to go.)
Tweezers are, of course, ideal for removing any debris from wounds or even taking care of a simple splinter. Bandages can be in the form of various size Band-Aids along with a generous supply of sports wrap. The latter can be used to hold gauze in place or to support an injured ankle, wrist, broken arm, or broken leg (along with a splint).
Also, before we get any further, it’s not just what first aid tools and supplies you have that matters. Having the right survival skills is important too. We have an excellent article written by two Army Ranger Combat Medics about survival first aid after the collapse which you should definitely check out.
5. Bandages – Band Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages, 280 Count
Nicks and cuts are common place when working with tools like survival hatchets or survival knives, saws, hammers, nails, and other tasks associated with rebuilding following a disaster or, as we are discussing, life in a post collapse world. Very easy to cut yourself chopping wood or cutting through undergrowth.
Having sterile bandages to put on wounds after they have been cleaned will be a common need. A lack of proper bandages means that wounds may take longer to heal and also be more likely to become contaminated by something outside the wound, which, as warned above, can be a fast way to a deadly infection. Remember, in a post collapse world with no doctors and hospitals, antibiotics will be hard to come by and a thing of the past for many. Preventing infection must continue to be taken seriously, even with minor nicks and cuts.
An arsenal of bandages is recommended for every family who takes disaster preparedness seriously.
Some procedures may call for one person to hold back torn skin while another person removes foreign objects from a wound. Disposable plastic tweezers can be used in a variety of scenarios, as can the traditional stainless steel tweezers seen in many medicine cabinets and hospital emergency rooms (plastics may need to be disposed of after any use whereas stainless steel, after being properly sanitized, can be used again).
7. Thermometer – Nextemp Disposable Thermometer
When taking a persons temperature it is important that no cold or hot beverages have been taken within 20 minutes of the measurement. Also, it’s advised to not smoke or engage in any activity that could raise the core temperature temporarily. If a reusable thermometer is used, it’s imperative to either clean the thermometer with an alcohol pad between uses. This prevents the spread of bacteria and viruses between people. Here’s a brief list of what internal temperatures can represent:
98.6 degrees – Indicates good health. The ‘normal’ range is wide and depends on the person. A temperature between 97.5 and 98.8 is considered normal and infection free.
100.4 – 102.0 degrees – This is an active fever that is best treated only if the person is uncomfortable. Using fever-reducing medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen is recommended. It is not of concern unless the fever persists past three days or is unresponsive to medication.
103 degrees and higher – High fever. If a fever persists at 103 or higher without response to medication, medical treatment is advised (you’re only solution in this case may be herbal medicine and the knowledge to treat a high fever; then of course, there’s also prayer for our Christian readers; sometimes God is just waiting for us to seek his deliverance; I’ve seen it first hand).
109.4 degrees – As a rule, any fever at this level is likely to be fatal.
8. Sewing Kit for Emergency Stitches
Although it is possible to purchase fully equipped first aid surgical kits, a simple sewing kit along with your other first aid supplies is sufficient in an emergency. The rule of thumb is a wound that is deeper than the first layer of skin is usually best to be closed to reduce the chance of infection. Most experts recommend needles that are on the smaller side — smaller the better — for this purpose. In an emergency, you can sterilize any needle you are using with a lighter (see our post on the best survival lighter) or matches. The actual suturing material can be either silk or nylon thread. Fishing line is an alternative that would enable easier removal later on, though, it must be carried in a sterile package.
Super glue can also be used, either on its own with a small laceration or in addition to sutures.
Finally, larger wounds or those located on the head may be easiest to close with the use of staples. Surgical staple guns, pre-loaded with staples, can provide quick and efficient wound closure in an emergency. Keep in mind that the task of removing staples is likely to be more painful than suture material.
9. Prescription Medication
Having back up prescription medications that you and your family normally take is also extremely important. Included here are diabetic supplies such as a blood sugar testing machine, strips and of course, insulin. Make sure to keep an eye on expiration dates and rotate in fresh medication as needed and be aware of outside temperatures that can cause certain medications to spoil. Make sure you have a plan for survival and your prescription medicines in the apocalypse.
For a person whose life is dependent on prescription medication, obviously in a post collapse world where there are no more pharmacies that person is going to be in serious trouble. Today, a complete change of dietary lifestyle to one of only healthy whole foods (often called “super foods”) can in time help reverse many diseases (that are not past the point of no return yet).
We’ve all heard about the problems that diabetics will face in a post collapse world. Natural foods that help boost insulin (like cilantro and red chilies) and herbal supplements that help lower blood sugar naturally (White Mulberry Leaf Extract, Prickly Pear Cactus, and true Cinnamon containing Ceylon) can all be embraced as natural foods and ways to help fight the onset of diabetes for the millions of people who are pre-diabetic or in the advanced early stages.
Simply put, you don’t want to be diabetic in a post-collapse world without doctors or hospitals if you’re dependent on insulin shots. In fact, for that matter, you don’t want to have your life dependent on any machines. It would be best to tackle dietary changes today to one of whole foods and herbal supplements (those that are clinically proven) than face the alternative one day in the not too-distant future.
10. Over the Counter Medication for Pain, Fever, Diarrhea
Finally, don’t forget the over the counter medication that can treat fever, stomach ills, diarrhea and nausea. Keep a collection of over the counter pain medication, an anti-diarrheal, laxatives and antacids, and watch those expiration dates. Anti-diarrhea medicine will be paramount to have in a post collapse world. At some point you’re likely to drink water that hosts any number of bacteria or parasites and before you know it have a serious case of diarrhea on your hands — one that might be life threatening due to dehydration from the loss of fluids.
Accidents, illness and injury happen without warning. Don’t wait for the lights to go out to locate what you need to deal with a situation. While we still have time to be prepared, let’s get prepared.
Keeping a custom medical supply kit handy and up to date gives you one less thing to worry about and one more assurance that you can be there for your family when they need you.
Specialized classes in emergency first aid are available in most communities and may be just a phone call or email away. We can’t cover every aspect or scenario in one article but can say that the more you know, the more you will be prepared, and the more lives you may possibly save in the end with just some basic knowledge and the right first aid supplies.