How To Build The Best Everyday Carry First Aid Kit

The best Everyday Carry first aid kit is not something you can buy off the shelf at your friendly online superstore.

Most commercially available first aid kits are good only for a relatively narrow range of needs such as minor cuts, burns, headaches, etc., and you end up never using or tossing out half the kit because its worthless.

In this article, we’ll share with you a truly comprehensive EDC kit for more serious first aid needs when professional medical care is not available. This is the kit you’ll need for events like natural disasters, major political events (war, for example), SHTF, or simply when you might be lost and injured on a trip to the remote outback.

everyday carry first aid kit

Building a kit properly is not cheap—you could easily spend over $100 if you purchase the entire list of contents.

We recommend you buy one or several items at a time, as much as your needs or budget will allow, buying the more important stuff first.

This list is for a portable kit that you can grab at a moment’s notice and toss into your vehicle along with your bugout bag. Some items on the list could be separated out into a small kit that fits your purse or glove compartment. Some are a bit heftier and should remain in the kit itself until needed long term.

We’ve divided the list into three levels of priorities.

Level One: Portable First Aid Kit Items
Start your kit with these items. As a group, they’re small in weight and size, and can be easily taken with you as a small grab bag or portable EDC kit in your vehicle.

  1. Tourniquet
    Essential for controlling a massive, spurting arterial bleeding that can kill a person in minutes.

  2. Pressure Dressing
    Much like the tourniquet, pressure dressing controls bleeding through direct pressure.

  3. Z-fold Gauze, Standard 4.5” x 4 Yards
    Excellent for wound packing, z-fold gauze helps stop blood flow in serious wounds.

  4. Coban Roll, Standard 2” x 5 Yards
    Coban is a convenient-to-use tape that sticks to itself, making it easy to bandage an injury or wound, or to secure splints. Another advantage: if you handle it carefully, it’s reusable.

  5. Trauma Shears
    Trauma shears are helpful aids when you need to cut things like clothing or seatbelts in order to provide medical aid. They’re not super critical—until you really need them.

  6. Acetaminophen / Tylenol
    These pain relievers are important in treating minor pains such as headaches or injuries, and are essential in every EDC first aid kit. They’re also quite inexpensive, so stock up now.  

Other types of common pain relievers include Ibuprofen, Advil, Diphenhydramine, Benadryl, and Imodium, all helpful in providing a degree of relief from minor pains, allergies, or diarrhea.

  1. Band-Aids (10x, various sizes)
    No well-stocked Level One first aid kit would be complete without an assortment of band aids in various sizes. We recommend at least 10 of each size.

  2. Chest seals (1 pair)
    In rather rare cases of a penetrating injury (knife or bullet) to the chest, a chest seal can help the lungs continue functioningin spite of the gaping wound.

Level Two: Good-To-Go-Bag Kit
This next level of first aid kit contains all those “good enough” items that, while not the super comprehensive kit of your dreams, can still handle a wide range of emergencies.

  1. Tweezers and Irrigation Syringe
    These items are critical for cleaning wounds in the field. With the syringe (preferably a 20cc model with an 18 gauge tip), you can safely aim a pressurized stream of water into the wound to clean it and prevent infection.

The tweezers are for picking out those chunks that the tweezers may have missed.

  1. White Petroleum Jelly/Vaseline
    White petroleum jelly (also known as Vaseline) is useful in everything from healing cracked lips or dry skin to preventing layers of dressings from sticking to the skin. It’s also a great fire starter when applied to cotton balls or gauze.

  2. Silk Medical Tape Roll, 1” Wide
    A roll of medical tape is great for keeping gauze bandages securely wrapped or adhered to the skin.

  3. Blister Kit: Moleskin plus Needle and Thread
    Blisters are the bane of anyone who has to walk any distance. To provide treatment, we recommend a blister kit containing a Moleskin (which you place over a potential blister area) plus a needle and thread.

    Never pop a blister. Instead, field medics carry a needle with 6 inches of thread stored in a small container of alcohol. They thread the needle and thread straight through the blister, leaving the thread dangling from both sides of the blister to safely drain the fluid.

  4. Rolled Gauze, Standard 4.5” x 4 Yards
    Unlike the z-fold gauze mentioned above, rolled gauze is helpful in bandaging awkward areas such as the head. Another advantage is that it can be easily cut down into 4”x4”squares, and can be used as a rolled hard object in a pressure dressing.

  5. Plastic Cling Wrap, 2” Wide Roll

Plastic wrap is transparent so you can watch a wound over time without having to redo the bandage. It does not cling to the wound, and can be reused when handled with care.

You can buy a roll at the store and trim it down into a 2-inch roll (or any width you prefer) for easy use.

  1. Cravat / Triangular Bandage, 45” x 45” x 63”
    A cravat is simply a triangular bandage made of flexible cloth, and are used as slings, splints, tourniquets, head and face coverings and even water strainers.

  2. Butterfly bandages, 0.5″ x 2.75″ (16x)
    Butterfly bandages are very narrow (0.5”) bands of medical tape that you can use to keep a wound closed. We suggest you include around 15 or 16 of these in your good-to-go medical kit.

  3. Safety pins (3x, various sizes)
    Keep a few safety pins in your kit as closures. You’ll be surprised at how often you use them.

  4. Elastic wrap / ACE bandage, standard 4” x 5 yard
    When you need to apply a splint, a bandage wrap, or support for a sprained limb, elastic wraps are invaluable. We suggest you keep at least one 4” by 5-yard roll in your bag at all times.

  5. Aluminum splint, 36”
    When you need a rigid form for stability, aluminum splints are the answer. Shape them to fit elbows, wrists, fingers, ankles or toes—or as a headrest or pillow.

Level Three: The Ultimate Survival First Aid Kit
Here’s a highly portable first aid kit that fits neatly into a standard 8” x6” x 4” MOLLE pouch, which in turn fits a backpack.

  1. Emergency blanket (2x)
    Every well-planned first aid kit should have at least 2 emergency blankets. Each blanket does a great job of retaining body heat, especially for a sick or injured person who is unable to move about much.

  2. Gloves (2 pairs)
    Gloves are essential in protecting not just you, but your patient, from contaminating fluids or bacteria. Some people prefer nitrile to latex or vinyl, especially since some are allergic to latex, though latex and vinyl are often more durable than nitrile.

  3. Reference Guide
    Find a good reference guide on survival medicine so you can learn how to treat a wide range of injuries and maladies during and after a disaster. Click here for a selection of recommended books on Amazon.

  4. Saline Eye Drops
    We’ve included eye drops because so many of us need protection and relief from pollutants. During a natural disaster such as a wildfire or a manmade event such as a riot (with lots of pepper spray), those eye drops can provide much needed comfort.

  5. Abdominal Pad (sometimes “ab pad”), 5” x 9” (2x)
    For instances where you need lots of gauze, an abdominal pad can cover either a wide area or can be cut up into smaller pieces.

  6. Nasopharyngeal Airway Tube, 28 French (a unit of size used for these devices)
    This is a simple rubber tube that can be used to keep upper airways (the nose and throat) open.It’s especially useful for a patient is to go unconscious.

  7. Pepto-Bismol Pills
    As an antacid, Pepto-Bismol can help with cases of nausea and diarrhea.

  8. Hydrocortisone Cream
    You should always have a remedy available for things like insect bites, poison oak or poison ivy, and eczema. Hydrocortisone Cream does the trick nicely.

  9. Miconazole
    Always a good solution for women experiencing vaginal yeast infections, but also useful for other fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm and jock itch.

  10. Doxycycline and/or Bactrim antibiotics
    These are great multispectral antibiotics that are effective treatments for things like infections of the upper respiratory system, ear, skin and urinary tract.  

Ready to Start Building Your Everyday Carry First Aid Kit?

This is one of those tasks you can accomplish one step (or level) at a time. But if you don’t begin, you’ll never finish. So let’s get started soon!

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