So what other considerations are there in the realm of medical kits?
Should You Buy a Kit or Build Your Own?
Advantages of Buying a Medical Kit:
- They (good kits) generally have most of what you need.
- They can be quite compact
- Individual use medications, wipes & ointments
- Good kits are organized with a good number of pockets.
- You can always add to them.
Disadvantages to Pre-built Kits
- Buyer beware! Not all kits are equal!
- They are relatively expensive for what you get.
- Tend to skimp on the gauze. You’ll be surprised how much gauze you’ll go through when you actually need it.
- You may not actually know what capabilities your kit has when it comes time to use it.
Advantages of Building Your Own Kit:
- You can tailor it to include everything you need.
- You can include more pills of each type for the same amount of money (or build several kits for the same price)
- You’ll know exactly what is in your kit.
- You could potentially make a better kit in a smaller size.
So what is best for you? This is obviously a personal decision. Just the fact that you’re looking into the subject is a very good thing. If you’re a DIY’er, then go for it! I personally like the individually packaged pills and ointments for portable kits and larger sizes for home kits, so I’ve purchased several kits and other items and tried to make some hybrid kits from it.
You might consider getting extras and keeping a drawer in your home stocked with all the items in your kits. Keep them all together and restock as necessary.
It can’t be stressed enough to take into consideration any special medical circumstances for yourself and your family. A few specific situations:
• Diabetics should keep some of their medications and glucose monitoring strips (and devices) in their kit. It may mean a premixed insulin pen or pills if you take those.
• Asthmatics should definitely keep an inhaler in their kit.
• Heart patients should consider keeping nitroglycerine with them. This is hard to keep in a kit as it doesn’t have a long shelf-life. If your doctor has prescribed a form of nitroglycerine for you, you should definitely keep this on your person at all times. Just make it a habit.
• Sutures – I think these are a valuable addition if you go on long hikes, spend a lot of time in the back country, or live in a rural area where it takes more than 20-30 minutes to get to a hospital. Look around and you can find sutures on the internet. For most people’s use, get silk sutures (2-0 or 3-0 in size). Don’t get gut sutures as they don’t last as long. Silk should last almost indefinitely. The problem with sutures is that actually using them yourself is pretty painful as you’re unlikely to be able to get lidocaine for numbing. Also, get some forceps (they can be pretty cheap ones, but should be sterile) because if you’re dealing with a cut, the suture needles are so slick with blood (and small) that using them by hand is difficult and dangerous.
Check out this video (“Level 1″ First Aid Kit by Nutnfancy) for a decent rundown of a do-it-yourself kit and the reasons behind the items he includes. He also has a “Level 2″ kit with several videos (you’ll find links to those from the Level 1 video).
Question: Do you have a first aid kit in your home? In your car? Tell us about it!