Some of the most important medical supplies you’ll accumulate will be those used to deal with injuries. Most of these (I hope) will be minor wounds that won’t take a lot of advanced equipment to handle but could easily affect your ability to function if ignored. Let’s outline what you’ll need in your role as a homestead medic.
MINOR INJURIES AND THEIR SUPPLIES
In an austere environment, it might be difficult to get through the day without some minor injury, such as a burn while cooking, a blister while hiking, or a splinter from hauling wood. The average person has, over the course of their lives, dealt with more than one of these problems, and you’ll find articles all over this website about how to treat them. This series is more about what medical supplies you’ll need for different issues rather than an in-depth discussion on a particular injury.
Although our Individual First Aid Kits on the site have the ability to handle significant bleeding and more, most of the time you’ll wind up using the lesser items in your everyday lives. This kit should be lightweight and should be taken with you wherever you go: In your car, on a hike in the woods, going fishing, etc. As a matter of fact, having one for the house and one for the car makes a lot of sense!
Helpful items to have include:
- Soap and water and/or antiseptics: To clean out minor wounds. Alcohol, BZK, and Iodine wipes are useful, but remember that they can dry out over time.
- Adhesive Bandages: various sizes and shapes to protect a scratch or abrasion from getting worse.
- Moleskin: Have a supply of these to deal with common blisters on areas that receive friction.
- Tweezers: With a magnifying glass, these will be useful to remove splinters or other small foreign objects.
- Styptic Pencil: Although most minor bleeding stops with direct pressure, razor cuts respond well to the application of a styptic pencil. Cayenne pepper powder has been reported to have similar effects (burns a little).
- Steri-Strips: small tape strips that hold together minor cuts (after they’ve been cleaned thoroughly; most wounds are dirty).
- Eye wash, cups, and patches: For minor eye irritation and injuries.
- Gauze packing: for nosebleeds. Dental cotton rolls and tampons are alternatives.
- Gauze Squares/Rolls: to cover and wrap minor injuries to keep them clean. Have non-stick gauze (Telfa Pads) available for burns.
- Burn Gel or Aloe Vera: To apply to small burns.
- Bacitracin or Triple Antibiotic ointment: To prevent infection in minor wounds.
- Medical Tape: To fasten small dressings in place.
- Scissors: to cut gauze or moleskin to appropriate sizes.
- Pain Meds: Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen are the most common.
All of these together won’t weight much more than a pound, and can handle a number of minor mishaps you’ll encounter in everyday life or even in the activites of daily survival. If you’re on the trail, put them in a Molle-compatible pouch that you can attach to your backpack or belt; you’ll barely know they’re there until you need them.
The above list is by no means complete, there’s a lot of unforeseen events that could make you wish you had more supplies. I’ll wager that you’re already thinking of additional items that would be useful for your personal kit. Maybe you even noticed an item on the list that you missed! In any case, make the kit to match your needs.
In our next article in the series, we’ll outline what you’ll need to be able to handle orthopedic injuries.
Joe Alton, M.D.