The Ultimate Guide to Building a Camping First Aid Kit
People camp for a myriad of reasons. Many do it to digitally detox, reconnect with nature, for relaxation, to explore, or for health benefits. No matter why you do it, it can be an incredible and memorable experience! However, it won't be perfect every single time you go. When you're in the outdoors, it's not uncommon to get hurt from just about everything and anything in your surroundings! Even the most careful individuals can have something unpleasant happen to them. This is why you need a camping first aid kit on hand!
What You Need in Your First Aid Kit
First aid gear is just as essential as all the rest of your equipment, but there's such a wide variety of supplies you can pick and choose. It can make it challenging to decide what you should actually take camping with you. Below, you can find a list of all the different types of supplies we recommend you take!
Bare Bone Basics
Before you can start customizing your kit, you need to have the basic camping first aid supplies that'll cover the common injuries campers tend to incur.
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Blister Strips
- Burn Gel
- Instant Cold Pack
- Triangle Bandage
- Saline Wash
- Skin Glue
You never know if something horrific will happen. While hopefully you never run into an injury that'll need life-saving gear, it's not impossible. Having basic bleed-controlling items will massively increase a victim's survivability in the case of massive hemorrhaging.
- Emergency Pressure Bandage
Depending on where you go and what time of year it is, you'll want to adjust your first aid kit for the situation. For example, in the winter, you may not need bug spray. However, it can save you from a whole lot of misery in the summer!
- Antihistamines/Allergy Medication
- Bug Spray
- Prescription Medications
I'm not saying you'll get stranded in the middle of the wilderness, but what happens if you do? In that case, you'll want the following supplies to help keep you alive!
- First Aid & Survival Guide
- Portable Charger
- Space Blanket
- Water Purification Tablets
Common Camping Injuries and How to Treat Them
No matter how cautious you are, bad things can still happen! That's why you need to know what injuries might happen and how to care for them.
Maybe you tripped over a log, a dog, or your own foot and accidentally rolled your ankle. No matter how it happened, I won't judge! My advice is to come up with an epic story to go along with your newly acquired battle wound while you administer first aid. But how do you treat a sprain?
To treat it yourself, your foot needs some well-deserved rest and relaxation. So, avoid walking on it. If you're stubborn and try to hobble around your campsite like a wanna-be pirate, you risk making the injury worse. And if you make it worse, you may need surgery. Therefore, stay off it!
Once you've been glued to a chair, you need to apply an ice pack for at least fifteen minutes and repeat this every couple of hours. Doing so will help reduce swelling, inflammation, and the desire to leave the safety of your camp chair. Compression and elevation will also aid in minimizing swelling, but be sure to avoid wrapping your foot too tightly and cutting off circulation.
A sprain can be particularly painful at times (especially if you refuse to listen to reason and keep using the joint). If you need something to manage the pain, pop an ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and you'll be just fine!
In some cases, your ankle won't heal on its own, or it's unstable. This may be an indication that you need surgery. Visit your doctor and see what can be done to ensure you can get back on your feet without any more trouble.
Cuts & Scrapes
Thankfully, the basic cuts and scrapes you're likely to come across will be easy to treat! Use saline wash or clean water to wash any debris out of the wound. If anything is still clinging to the wound, gently brush it away and wash the area one more time. After that, simply pat dry using a clean cloth, smear on some ointment, slap on a bandage, and get back to enjoying your camping trip! You won't let a measly little scratch ruin your trip, will you?
Whether you're roasting your dinner over an open fire or grilling like a boss, you might get burned. If the flames happen to get you, you'll want to remove any restricting clothes or jewelry in case the area swells before running the area under cool water for ten or so minutes. Afterward, pat the area dry and apply a nonstick bandage to protect the damaged skin. If needed, you can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease the pain.
When you're hot, sweaty, cramping, and your head hurts, you might be coming down with heat stroke or one of the other types of hyperthermia. In the worst-case scenario, it can be deadly, so knowing how to treat it is critical.
If you suspect you may be getting heatstroke, rest in a cool, shady place and focus on rehydrating (with water. Soda and alcohol don't count). Ditch any clothes that are heavy or tight, apply a cool compress to the back of your neck, and take it easy until you feel okay again.
Not drinking enough can lead to dehydration and heatstroke if you aren't careful. If you're dizzy, fatigued, nauseous, and have a headache and dry mouth, you're probably dehydrated. When this happens, you'll want to slowly drink plenty of helpful fluids like water and sports drinks.
First off, if you got bitten by something, you were probably messing with something you shouldn't have. Here are some prevention tips I had to drill into my brothers' heads: give wild animals a wide berth, don't chase any animal down, and don't stick your hands down suspicious-looking holes. Now, if you do get bitten, wash the area with soap and water. If it's deep or you're concerned about developing an infection (especially rabies), promptly seek medical attention. Even if you think you're fine, if you haven't had a tetanus shot in the last five years, see a doctor!
Yes, danger noodles are animals and they could technically be combined with the animal section, but they deserve their own! Right off the bat, snake bite kits don't work. Neither does cutting open the area and letting it bleed (this isn't the 19th century), sucking out the venom, cauterizing the bite, or applying a tourniquet. These methods either do nothing or make things worse for you or the patient. If you get bitten by a venomous snake, go to the hospital.
In the event that you're far away from a hospital, sit or lay down with the snake bite below heart level. The patient also needs to stay as calm and still as possible. During transport, talk to them calmly, explain what you're doing, and reassure them that they'll be fine. Be sure you call 911 and see if they can evacuate you or direct you to which hospital you need to visit. This is crucial because not all hospitals carry all antidotes. For example, I had a friend who was bitten by a copperhead. The ambulance had to rush them to a hospital over thirty minutes away because the three or so ones that were closer didn't have the antidote.
A well-stocked first aid kit can make the difference between a nightmarish trip and a memorable experience you’ll look back on fondly. Don’t have a first aid kit yet and want to start preparing for emergencies now? Check out My Medic’s life-saving first aid kits before you plan your next epic adventure!