How to Make Your Travel First-Aid Kit

Community Partners
May 18, 2018
4 Health Tips
June 5, 2018

The school year is ending, road trips are being planned and summer is calling! It’s time to enjoy the outdoors and see some beautiful country. There are many places to camp, hike, bike and just enjoy nature in our part of the country. However, no matter where you go, it’s always good to be prepared. Whether you’re planning a long day out at the lake, a week-long camping trip or backpacking through the Rocky Mountains, planning, staying safe, and having emergency medical items on hand is the best way to enjoy outdoor summer fun.

There are a lot of excellent, pre-made emergency medical travel kits available online or at outdoor gear stores. If you decide to purchase pre-made kits, check our physician recommendations below to make certain you’re prepared. Or, make your own emergency medical ‘go-bag’ with some items that can keep you on the trail and out of the ER.

We asked our physicians to weigh in on what they deem important for any First Aid travel kit:

Dr. Williams recommends fever reducer/pain reliever.

“I like to travel with both a fever reducer and a pain reliever. You never know when you’re going to need either one, especially with young kids. When my children were younger, I always made sure I had both in liquid form. Now that they’re older, I have them both in pill form. It’s a good idea to keep these on hand, even when you’re not traveling.”

Dr. Laseter recommends Anti-diarrheal medication (loperamide).

“Camping, fishing, backpacking and long hikes are all activities you can possibly pick up bacteria that can cause diarrhea. The most important issue with diarrhea is dehydration, so make sure in addition to taking anti-diarrhea medication, you’re drinking plenty of water. Try and wash your hands as much as possible if spending a lot of time outdoors and make sure to never drink standing, stagnant water, which could contain parasites and bacteria that can be very harmful, or deadly, if ingested.”

Dr. Bennetsen recommends bandages.

“Bandages in a variety of sizes is really essential. Whatever small cut or scrape you get, keeping it clean and protected from dirt and bacteria is going to save you a lot of problems down the line. We see infected cuts and wounds quite frequently at the ER. Some types of infections really can’t be avoided, but a good cleaning and a protective bandage is your first line of defense against most infections.”

Dr. Coppola recommends needle and thread.

“This is a real ‘worst case scenario’ option, but if you’re in a real bind, and miles and miles away from any medical help, a needle and thread might be your only choice. It may sound extreme and hopefully, it would never come to this, but if it was a bad enough cut, you might have to stitch yourself up or have someone stitch you up. You’d want to make sure the wound was very clean and dry and then stitch like you would fabric. Of course, this is only to hold you over until you get proper medical attention.”

Dr. Peterson recommends antiseptic wipes.

“A lot of people overlook antiseptic wipes, but they’re very important. You may need to clean and sanitize a cut, scrape, blister or even, in a pinch, some cutlery. The great outdoors has an abundance of bacteria. Most of it is harmless to us, but some can make us sick. When in doubt, use an antibacterial wipe to clean a cut, cleanse your hands or kill bacteria from a surface you’re eating or drinking from.”

Dr. Kara recommended: tweezers.

“Tweezers are a go-to tool for field emergency medicine. You can use tweezers to remove small splinters, clean debris out of wounds and to remove bugs, like ticks, that are embedded in the skin. Try to disinfect or wipe tweezers down with an antibacterial wipe before touching them to the skin to reduce the risk of infection.”

Dr. Holland recommends gauze.

“Gauze is like a jack of all trades when it comes to wounds. You can use it to apply pressure to stop bleeding. Even if you forget a bandage or just don’t have one handy, you can use gauze and some duct tape to keep it in place and cover up a wound. This is obviously a last resort, but it would work.”

Other tips and recommendations from our physicians:

  • Sun and heat protection. Wear loose, comfortable clothing with long sleeves and pants to protect exposed skin from the sun and bug bites. On very hot, sunny days, it’s important to wear sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen that’s waterproof and protects from both UVA/UVB rays. Reapply often and always after swimming.
  • Stay hydrated. The general rule of thumb is to drink 1 liter of water every two hours. But, you may need more if you’re heavily exerting yourself on a very hot day.
  • Take pics. If an unusual bug bites you, or you develop a suspicious-looking bug bite, take pictures of it with your cell phone. You’ll be able to show the physician when you find medical help.
  • Know your emergency medical plan. Be aware of the nearest emergency medical centers wherever you’re going, especially if it’s deep into the wilderness. If there’s not going to be cell phone reception wherever you’re going, carry a small flare gun.

The blog is written by Lisa Dawson, the Director of Marketing at The Colony ER Hospital.

Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on The Colony Emergency Room Hospital or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.