15 Essential Items For A Survival First Aid Kit

A survival first aid kit often does not get the attention it deserves. It is usually the last thing that is packed and not much thought goes into it. Surely a potentially life-saving part of your gear should receive the appropriate attention! These 15 essential items for a survival first aid kit, however, will change your survival first aid kit from bare bones to effective!

The first thing to consider when creating an effective survival first aid kit is to reflect on where you will be going, and what possible dangers you could encounter or potential injuries you could sustain. This will give you a good idea of appropriate items to include in your survival first aid kit. 

The first group of items we recommend you include in your kit are geared for taking care of small abrasions and scrapes. In your normal daily life, you may not even treat such a seemingly insignificant wound, but in the wilderness, these abrasions can become infected and create complications.

1. Tweezers.

A good set of tweezers can be very useful for extracting thorns, dirt, or other foreign matter from a scrape or abrasion. The stainless steel variety would be a better choice for this item because it is more robust and less likely to fail when you need t most!

2. Alcohol Wipes

Alcohol is a great disinfectant that can kill bacteria that may infect through broken skin. From a space consideration point of view, you can get alcohol swabs that are individually package in sachets. An alternative is a spray bottle, but this can be a bit bulky, taking up unnecessary space in your survival first aid kit.

Be warned, that when applying alcohol to broken skin, it stings like the dickens! So warn your patient before applying!

3. Sterile saline solution

A small bottle of sterile saline solution is a great idea to include in your kit. This item is very useful for flushing debris out of eyes, or cleaning cuts and scrapes before re-dressing. An alternative to a bottle is using small ampules of sterile saline solution which are for an individual, single use application. This option can take up less space and prevent the saline solution leaking in your kit.

4. Band-Aids

Band-aids of various sizes are an absolute must for your survival first aid kit. It is important to keep broken skin clean in the wilderness to prevent infection. These items don’t take up much room, so make sure to include them in your inventory!

Last update was on: June 4, 2020 3:59 am

5. Antiseptic ointment

A small tube of antiseptic ointment is an essential addition to a survival first aid kit. Antiseptic ointment is good for soothing and healing wounds. It also helps to protect the wound from infection. It can be used to treat cuts, abrasions, minor burns and scalds or even areas of sunburn in a pinch! Antiseptic ointment or cream is also useful to bring relief from insect bites and dry, chapped skin.

6. Pain Relievers

Pain can be a debilitating factor in a survival situation. It can cause you to not be able to function optimally in order to ensure your survival. This is a limiting factor which can be treated by the inclusion of pain relief medication in your first aid kit.

Always consult your doctor as to the best paid medicine for you to include in your survival first aid kit. My pain reliever of choice that I include in my kit is a paracetamol based medication. Parecetemol is not only a pain reliever, but also helps to reduce fever.

The second group of items are those that are needed to treat more substantial cuts and lacerations.

7. Bandages

Bandages are another non-negotiable for a survival first aid kit. They are a multipurpose item that can be used for immobilizing limbs with broken bones, securing dressings in place, or stopping bleeding. Bandages come in various sizes and types.

The bandage that I prefer to carry in my kit is the crepe style bandages. These bandages have a slightly elastic property to them, which makes them easy to use to get a tight strapping on a twisted ankle or other sprained joint. Their elasticity also makes them ideal to assist in stopping bleeding.

I would recommend keeping two of each size, small, medium and large in your survival first aid kit.

Tip: Be careful when using a crepe bandage, as it is easy to make them too tight! This has the potential to cut off circulation in a limb an cause you a whole host of other problems!

8. Sterile Gauze Dressings

Sterile gauze dressings come in small, medium and large sizes for different size wounds. They can be in individual sealed packets, or packaged with 5 or more in a pack. I like to keep the large ones in my kit. They can always be trimmed to size for smaller applications.

9. Safety Pins

Many people think that safety pins are old fashioned and have no place in a first aid kit. I disagree and consider them a very useful addition. As you have probably guessed by now, multipurpose items are very beneficial to have in your kit. Safety pins can be used to secure crepe bandages on a wound, triangle bandages around the shoulder, or removing stings or splinters. In a survival situation, they can even be re-purposed into makeshift fishing hooks!

10. Sterile Gloves

When you are in the wilderness, dirty hands come with the territory. This becomes a potential problem when dealing with open wounds in the outdoors, either on yourself, or others. The inclusion of sterile gloves will allow you to treat a wound without the risk of causing further infection.

When choosing the type of gloves for your kit, it is best to choose nitrile gloves, as some people are allergic to latex.

Broken bones are a difficult injury to deal with in the wilderness, particularly if the bone is sticking out of the limb. There is very little you can include in a survival first aid kit to treat this type of injury effectively. The highest priority in this case would be to stop any bleeding and you already have gear in your kit for that. The next most important thing to do is immobilize the limb with the broken bone.

There are a few items you can include in your survival first aid kit that will help you achieve this goal

Last update was on: June 4, 2020 3:59 am

11. Triangular Bandage

A triangular bandage is one of those multipurpose items that is an essential survival first aid item to include in your kit. From a broken bone perspective, it can be used to immobilise a broken arm or support an arm around the neck to relieve pressure on a broken collar bone. Use the triable bandage to tie the limb to a makeshift splint from cut branches.

If you are caught out in the wilderness without any form of head protection, you can use the triangle bandage as a bandana to keep the sun off your head!

12. Paracord

Paracord may seem like an unusual item to include in a first aid kit, but it has so many uses that it does not make sense not to include it. If you do not wear a paracord bracelet, it would be wise to include a length or it in your kit.

Paracord uses include tying limbs to makeshift splints to immobilise them, a makeshift sling for damages arms, a tourniquet, or even securing bandages in place!

13. Scissors

In a medical emergency, time is often of the essence! You don’t want to be struggling to cut a bandage to size or cutting clothing off a limb with your bushcraft in order to effect treatment.

A good pair of steel medical scissors are designed for this function and will allow you to work quickly and efficiently when it is most important to do so.

The next group of items are suggestions for medicines that should be included in your survival first aid kit. In the first group, we already mentioned pain relief medication that should be included. This section expands to include other medicinal options that are useful to incorporate into your kit.

Warning: As with all medicine, consult your doctor first before you include any medicine in your kit. They have the knowledge to advise you on the correct medicine for you.

14. Allergy Medication

Allergy medicine is a good idea to include in a survival first aid kit, even if you are not prone to allergies. You never know when you may have an allergic reaction to an insect bite, stinging plant or something you eat.

15. Anti-diarrhea medicine

Dehydration can be a dangerous problem in a survival situation where you may not have access to a lot of clean water. Diarrhea can be a problem if you eat food you are not used to, or drink water that is not clean. Anti-diarrhea medication will help you to stop this potentially life threatening symptom and increase your chances of survival.

Bonus Items

There two additional items that I like to include in my survival first aid kit. They are not necessarily essential items, but if you have the space, you should consider including them.

Bonus Item 1. Water purification tablets

Water is probably the most important commodity in a survival situation. If you find yourself in such a situation and you do not have access to clean drinking water, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place! If you drink the water, you can get sick which can reduce your survival chances, but if you don’t have anything to drink, you can die of thirst!

Water purification tablets can be indispensable in a situation like this and will allow to treat the water and make it safer to drink.

Last update was on: June 4, 2020 3:59 am

Final Recommendation

Knowledge is the key to success in many cases, and the same goes for a survival medical situation. Attending a first aid course will increase you knowledge on how to handle basic medical emergencies and how to use the gear is your survival firs aid kit effectively. I highly recommend that everyone, whether you spend time in the wilderness or not, go on a first aid course.

You never know when that knowledge could make the difference and save yourself or a loved one! Enjoy the wilderness and be safe!

Frank is an allround outdoorsman who has experience in homesteading, bushcraft and African wildlife, particularly snakes which he has a passion for. Frank has worked as a safari guide in well-known big 5 game reserves in South Africa and enjoys photography and knifemaking as hobbies.

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