Going camping is a fun time for everybody. You get to hang out with family and friends, relax and communicate with nature. Even if you’re going alone, camping can be a great experience because you get to escape from the rat race and just take it easy.
Packing for your camping trip seems easy enough. You just need to remember the tent, bring food and other essentials. However, there is one important camping must-have that is often neglected and even forgotten: the camping first aid kit.
The Importance of A First Aid Kit
Your camping first aid kit is a collection of supplies that you would need to treat minor emergencies during this trip. You can either buy a first aid kit from stores or assemble your own but these are important things to have because they can help treat injuries and ailments that can occur during your camping trip. Bringing one can help reduce the risk of infections and severity of the injury.
Here are other reasons why a first aid kit is important during camping.
Small Storage Space
Having a first aid kit gives you a location for all the necessary supplies you need to treat an injury. There’s no need to run to the kitchen for some scissors or search the bags for some tape because all you need is in one convenient bag. As a rule, you should place your first aid kit in a location that is easily accessible to everybody in camp.
Access to Emergency Supplies
Having access to emergency supplies while camping can help save lives. If a camper got the fever for example, aspirin can help relieve symptoms while you’re still in camp. This will give you time to bring them to a real hospital which could be miles away depending on where you are.
Even more, sometimes unexpected acts of nature such as tornadoes or rainstorms can occur while you’re camping. During these instances campers are at risk for cuts, abrasions, fractures and other injuries and access to emergency supplies is very important.
Having a first aid kit is a money saver because it can help you avoid visits to the doctor. Accidents can happen when you’re in camp or in the wilderness. Many injuries that occur in camp can easily be treated if you have the essentials with you. Emergency room visits can be very expensive especially if the doctor or hospital is not in your coverage network.
Protect the Kids
Kids can get into a lot of trouble when you’re camping with them. They are prone to scratches, cuts and even burns just because they’re kids. Having easy access to help ease their pain can make your whole camping trip more enjoyable.
Now that we know why a first aid kit is very important during camping, we need to know what you need in your kit. While it is perfectly alright to buy a pre-assembled first aid kit, it might be better to check if you’re not allergic to any of the medications.
However, a homemade first aid kit is better because it is personalized to your needs and preferred medicine brands and contains medicine that you might need while you’re in the wilderness.
How To Build Your First Aid Kit
When you prepare your own camping kit, you are ensuring that you, your friends or family can survive injuries that can occur when you’re camping or while in the wilderness.
Here are some things you need to consider when building your own camping first aid kit.
- The container needs to be big enough to hold all the essentials for your camping trip. It also needs to be waterproof and be non-breakable.
- Your first aid kit should be stored in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight.
- Always check the expiry dates of medicines you put inside your camping first aid kit before leaving especially if you don’t go camping often.
- Train family members how to use the first aid kit including any equipment you might have included in the kit.
- Organize medicine and supplies to make access easier during emergencies. Example, organize medicines into pain meds, fever, burns, etc.
What To Put Inside
Your camping first aid kit should include items that are needed to treat injuries during an emergency at camp.
Here are some items you should include in your basic first aid kit.
- Adhesive Tape
- Assorted size bandages
- Gauze pads
- Instant cold pack
- Antiseptic solution and towelettes
- Non-latex gloves
- Antiseptic wipe packets
- SAM Splint
Aside from these supplies you also need medicine. Basic medicine for your camping trips should include:
- Fever relief such as Advil, Motrin or acetaminophen or analgesics.
- Mosquito bites ointment
- Antihistamine for allergic reactions
- Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin
- Aloe Vera gel for burns or burn ointment
- Bee sting ointment
First aid kits should also include general supplies:
- Flashlights with battery
- Spare Batteries
- Packet of matches or flint starter
- Safety Razor
- Duct Tape
These last items might sound redundant since you will be packing most of them anyway. However, it is still to have backup items in your emergency kit which you can use during injury or accidents.
Factors To Consider
Your camping survival kit should match your trip plan. Before heading off, you need to check your kit to make sure that the medicines are not expired and refill anything else that has been used. If you are a frequent camper or an avid survivalist, you’re probably gone a lot and go through supplies in your camping first aid kit more frequently.
In these instances you need to be sure that you are adequately stocked before heading off. Where you will be going should also be considered when refilling your first aid kit.
For example, you are going hunting. You need to update your camping first aid kit to include supplies that can treat penetration wounds from bullets or arrows in case somebody gets hit. You will need to update the kit accordingly and include items like a tourniquet or space blanket to reduce shock.
If you’re going fishing for instance, you also need to revise your first aid kit to include tools to make fish hook removal easier. For mountain climbers, make sure to carry with you some altitude sickness medication. Bushwhackers need extra gauze, bandages and band-aids.
Another factor to consider is the number of days you will be gone. If you are planning to be gone for a long time, it is best that your camping first aid kit be well stocked for the number of days you will be gone.
This way you have access to medicine such as pain relievers or antacids and avoid trips to civilization just to re-stock your camping first aid kit. Even if you’re just going on an overnighter, you should always make sure that your first aid is well-stocked. Check out our article on the top first aid kits for more information.
You should also look into the number of people that is going with you on the trip. Generally speaking, the more people that are going with you, the more supplies you should bring. For example, the Red Cross recommends that you should bring along 25 adhesive bandages for a group of 4. If more people are going on the trip, you should bring along more bandages.
Even if it’s just you, you should still bring your camping first aid kit with you. Make sure that it has your prescription meds (if you have) and is adequately stocked with the needed supplies for the whole duration of your trip be it mountain climbing, fishing, hunting or just camping.
We mentioned training family members and friends how to use equipment in your first aid kit. Some of them might not know how to use the thermometer or SAM splint correctly. Proper training is one of the components of survival readiness which could come in handy during emergency situations in the wilderness.
Personalizing the First Aid Kit
One of the best things about building your own first aid kit is the personalization. When you buy a kit it comes with generic equipment and medicines and they can be more expensive. Building your own is better because you get to choose the container or bag and put medicine and equipment of your own choosing.
Personal camping first aid kits can also contain your prescription medication. Just because you’re going camping does not mean to say that you don’t bring your prescribed medicine. Important personal meds such as insulin, heart medication and other maintenance medicine should also be included in your first aid kit. This is to ensure that you have access to important drugs (and have a back-up) when you’re camping or if emergencies occur.
Not all people have the same prescription medication for their illnesses. If it’s a family trip, you should consider the medical needs of your family members. One child for example, might be allergic to a type of medication that is perfectly effective and suitable for another. Your husband or wife might also require different meds.
For example, there are people that are not allowed to take NSAIDS like ibuprofen for pain relief but can take acetaminophen. Accommodating everybody’s personal medical needs might be inconvenient but remember that you will be isolated during your camping trip so it’s always better to be prepared.
If you like camping with grandma and grandpa, you should also personalize the kit not only for their medications but also time and dosage for the medicines. Equipment like blood pressure monitor or blood sugar monitor should also be included in case they are needed. You should also bring along the number of their physicians, or nearest hospital and pharmacy.
There are also kids and adults with special medical needs. Your kit should also include these types of medication. In the case of an anaphylactic shock for example, your first aid kit should also contain an EpiPen which can treat anaphylaxis. Aside from EpiPens, your kit should also include asthma inhalers and other specialized meds that can help treat campers during emergency situations. For more tips on what to bring in your next camping trip, see our article on this topic.
Pre-Assembled First Aid Kit
There’s nothing wrong with buying a pre-assembled first aid kit. The ones sold by the Red Cross for example, come with the basic emergency needs of a group of 4. It is very convenient and comes in an orange bag so that it is easy to see.
Advantages of Using a Pre-Assembled First Aid Kit
- Buying a pre-assembled kit is a matter of convenience. You order one online and it arrives on your doorstep because they deliver worldwide. No need to go to the store to buy a kit.
- A pre-assembled camping first aid kit also takes away all the guessing game. There’s no need to Google what kind of bandage or size to buy. You also don’t need to worry if all you need is there because the contents are all Red Cross recommended. It’s all there, ready to go.
- It also contains all the things you need in a first-aid kit. The Red Cross first aid kit for example, includes a CPR one-way valve face shield so that you don’t have to go look for a store that carries this product.
- Depending on what kind of outdoor activities you will participate in, there are basic first aid kits you can purchase cheaply and distribute to a big group easily because it’s already pre-packaged. This way, everybody has access to their own personal first aid kit.
Unpleasant things can happen when you’re camping or out in the wilderness. That’s why it’s smart to learn basic first aid before you leave home. During accidents and emergencies being a bystander can make you feel helpless. That’s why it is important to have basic first aid knowledge. You can check your local health center, hospital or Red Cross chapter for basic first aid courses. For a list of important hiking essentials you need to bring, see our earlier piece on this topic.
Accidents will always happen. That’s why it is better to be prepared even when you just want to relax and unwind during your camping trip. Having proper training and bringing with you a well-stocked camping first aid kit during your trips can help you treat simple injuries before they become severe or prevent fatalities as a result of emergency situations.