Survival Medicine

Building a Family First-Aid Kit

While first-aid isn’t considered one of the top three or four survival priorities, there are times when it can jump to number one. The thing is, we never know when someone in our family or survival team is going to be injured. That’s bad enough by itself; but in the wake of a disaster, hospitals and other medical treatment facilities tend to become overrun. With that being the case, the first-aid we’re able to offer our family members is even more critical. If transportation is a problem, it might be the only medical treatment they receive. 

Being able to treat injuries yourself, there in your home or at your survival retreat is therefore an essential skill. Of course, if you happen to have an Army medic on tap, then you can probably get away without learning it yourself. But if you don’t, then you probably need to learn at least the basics and have a good first aid kit to use. 

Building a Family First-Aid Kit

Different people define first-aid in different ways, but it basically boils down to: 

  • Cleaning the wound to prevent infection
  • Stopping blood flow
  • Keeping the patient from dying of shock

In order to accomplish that, certain medical supplies are needed. While it is theoretically possible to use cobwebs or dried moss to stop the blood flow, we’re really better off using sterile medical supplies. But buying one of those $19.95 first-aid kits in the local pharmacy won’t do it; you’re going to need much more, something more along the lines of a trauma kit. While those are available for purchase, you can also make your own. 

You’ll need a good case to keep your kit in. I like to use a large fishing tackle box, because the cantilevered trays offer a lot of small compartments for the little things. But a cardboard box will work, if the supplies will fit in it and you can keep them organized. 

Take the time to learn how to use all these things, as well as general wound treatment. If you ever need to use that knowledge, it could save a family member’s life. 

Personal Protection Equipment 

You have to start with basic personal protection equipment, so that you can prevent the spread of disease: 

  • Medical masks
  • Surgical gloves
  • Goggles or face shield 
  • Hand sanitizer
  • CPR mask

Supplies for Stopping Blood Flow

The biggest part of the kit will be the necessary supplies for stopping the bleeding: 

  • Irrigation syringe or bottle
  • Alcohol or alcohol wipes
  • Clotting agent 
  • Israeli bandage
  • Antibacterial ointment 
  • Adhesive bandages (the cloth type are better)
  • Larger bandages (2”x 3”, 4”x 6”, etc.)
  • Medical tape (both normal and the cohesive type)
  • Gauze rolls
  • Gauze pads
  • Chest seal (for placing over a puncture to the chest cavity)

Supplies for Broken Bones

While not as common, it’s a good idea to be prepared to treat broken bones and sprains:

  • Sam splint
  • Elastic bandages
  • Combat cravat (sling)
  • Instant cold packs

Medical Tools

Building a Family First-Aid Kit

Then there are the things you’ll need to have, so that you can treat the patient: 

  • Medical scissors 
  • Hemostats 
  • CAT tourniquet 
  • Fine pointed tweezers 
  • Eye cup
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Blood sugar monitor
  • In the ear thermometer
  • Pulse oximeter 
  • Chest decompression needle 
  • Nasal pharangeal airway 
  • Survival blanket


It’s impossible to stock all the medicines you might need. But you can stock some over the counter meds. That will help with a lot. If you can get them, antibiotics will be even more important. 

  • Antibiotics 
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl) 
  • Decongestant (Sudafed)
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine 
  • Cortisone cream 
  • Pain relievers 
  • Lidocaine (a topical anesthetic cream for temporarily numbing the skin)

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