By Dr. Oren Gersten
A first aid kit can come in handy on a hike or even just around town. A kit for the car and another to carry in a bag will help make sure you have it when you need it.
Put some thought into what might be most useful. A lot of what you pack depends on what you intend to be doing. A longer hiking trip requires more supplies than a quick trip to the park. Also, who the intended user is can make a difference. A first aid kit for kids will likely contain different supplies than kits for adults. Despite these variations there are some common themes.
- Fresh water: a commonly overlooked step in wound care is rinsing the wound thoroughly with fresh clean water. In the medical field we like to say, “the solution to pollution is dilution,” meaning that washing dirt out of a wound is the best way to prevent infection.
- An antiseptic: two commonly used antiseptics are alcohol pads and iodine. Both come in waterproof single use containers ideal for travel. After thoroughly rinsing a wound these can be used to add an extra layer of cleaning.
- Pain medication: an over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol can be useful in treating the pain from cuts, scrapes, and bumps.
- Benadryl is an antihistamine available over the counter to treat allergic reactions. Refer to the label for dosing.
- Calamine lotion is a topical lotion can be great for camping trips where the mosquitos are out. A dab on particularly itchy bites could be the difference between a good night’s sleep and staying up itching and scratching.
- Depending on a person’s medical history then albuterol inhalers, epi-pens, and other prescription medications should be easily accessible for surprise situations.
- Flashlight: what good is having medication with you if you can’t read the label?
- Pen and paper: great for recording medication dosing, symptoms, and important phone numbers.
- 24-hour poison control number for Maine: 1-800-222-1222.
Other Handy Tools
- Tweezers for splinters
- Blunt tipped scissors for trimming bandages or mole skin (blister prevention)
- Medical gloves – always protect yourself from bodily fluids
- A first aid reference book can be nice or there are also apps for your phone
As always common sense is a good first line of defense. Having a medical professional who you know and trust can help prevent minor mishaps from becoming major catastrophes.
Oren Gersten is a board-certified family doctor who brings his passion for connecting and caring for people to his private practice, Portland Direct Primary Care.