Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekend Shopping Field Trip: The Dollar Store - Budget EDC FAK

No permission slip needed.
Cost: $10-20
Go shopping after your basic first aid class tomorrow.

Mission: Put together a "good enough" every day carry first aid kit, and bring it in cheap.

$10 kit, for me:
6 oz pump bottle isopropyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer
bag of 5 pr. vinyl gloves
18 benzylkonium chloride (BZK) sanitary hand/(wound) wipes
4" generic Ace wrap
3 roller gauze rolls (1",2",3")
8 sterile 2"x2" gauze dressings
1 1/3 oz. tube generic triple antibiotic ointment
6 Tylenol brand Extra Strength (500mg) tabs
40 tab btl. of generic ibuprofen (200mg)
1 roll of 1" waterproof first aid tape

That alone covers an awesome amount of simple first aid needs. The idea is a cheap kit you can keep in your car, or at work, use and replenish as necessary, and not give two hoots if you need to replace it, or items go bad or get used up. You'll be miles ahead of 95% of the population.

$20 "luxury kit", same trip:
The above, plus
1 btl of 175 standard aspirin (325 mg)
2 standard bars Dial antibacterial soap
Craft & sew kit, with seam (clothes) ripper, needles, and small safety scissors (+ thread! - for sewing, NOT suturing!)
7-LED flashlight
AAA batteries for above
Blistex lip balm
6 oz. tube of SPF 30 sunscreen
10' roll of 2" duct tape (woodland camo, dayglo pink, take your pick)
4 prs asstd. tweezers on card
1 J&J 12 item first aid kit, in small plastic case, with
2 more BZK wipes
2 more pairs of 2"x2" gauze
4 5/8" bandaids
2 1" bandaids

For another $6, I could/would have added hydrocortisone cream, generic Benadryl, generic immodium, antacid tablets, bug repellant, and individual eye drops.

I would have liked to find nitrile gloves, or even latex (I'm not allergic to it), and some generic moleskin, but vinyl is better than nothing, and duct tape can be pressed to make serve for blisters. Also as butterfly dressings, using those little scissors. And in a pinch, as a chest seal. They also didn't have single-edge razor blades, which are the shiznit for a host of uses. I can always get the gloves and razor blades at Horror Freight for not much more than a buck.

The entire thing would fit in small lunch sack, or a waist pouch.

Some of it is brand-name stuff, some of it is made-in-China, all of it is serviceable, easily replaced, and one helluva lot better than nothing whatsoever.
You can solve your own and others' minor medical emergencies, and keep others from happening.

It can also be further stripped down, taken out of original packaging (I highly recommend this anyways wherever possible), and put into Ziploc snack and sandwich baggies. For meds, go to a craft store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby, etc., or that aisle of a bigger WalMart, and get a pkg. of 100 crafter's zip bags, which come in sizes like tiny 2"x3" (for pills on blister cards, cut down to individual doses), or 3"x5" and 4"x6" for things like bandaids, gauze dressings, BZK wipes, etc. Now all your stuff is visible, waterproof, and separately accessible, with no bulky cardboard boxes to deal with. They're also good for keeping cards, papers, etc. dry and visible, and for keeping batteries from self-destructing inside things while stored, like they do.

WallyWorld also sells fairly heavy-duty zip pouches about 5"x 10" in camo and earth tones. You can fit your EDC/car/office drawer kit in one. Or, you can buy different colors, and sort supplies by purpose, i.e. red for bleeding, blue for airway items, orange for burns, green for prep/decon items, black for tools & equipment, or whatever. Then put the collection of pouches into a soft tackle box, and you've got a medic bag.

You can always upgrade the stuff later (and should). Baby steps.
Start with that kit, and keep it where you spend most of your time. Some small part should be on you just about always, or where you can get to it in a couple of minutes. You don't need to walk around wearing the Batman Belt 24/7 though. See how much you can get into one of those aluminum wallets (also $1), or into a waist cell phone pouch than won't look too goofy or "tacticool", while still getting the job done.

You can definitely go bigger, better, and more expensive.
But you'll have a tough time getting this much for this little.


Steve Parker, M.D. said...

For six months I've been meaning to put together a kit for my car, in case I'm the first one to stumble upon a car wreck or other accident. Never got around to it. I will now, thanks to you.

I'll add some sterile 4xx" gauze to pack larger oozing wounds.


Aesop said...

@Dr. Steve:
Thanks Doc.
If they'd had bigger stuff at the 99 Cent Store, I'd have added it too!
I carry bigger and better stuff than this now, but I'm in the biz.

Down the road I'll go over a more deluxe kit, but even something this basic is better than nothing, and a perfect (and cheap) place to start.
On a whim, I just wanted to see what I could come up with there on a sawbuck.
Esp. knowing that even if it gets fried in one SoCal summer, I can replace items for the cost of a Happy Meal.

My reminder was when someone left-turned right in front of the car in front of me Christmas Eve. Three seconds later and it could've been me totaled in the intersection.

Instead, had my kit, got out to render aid (there were injuries), and gave the local parameds a kick-ass hand-off report when they arrived, before heading to Christmas dinner with my family.

We never know where the day is heading when we get into the car.

Ex-Dissident said...

some sterile saline to irrigate out a dirty wound would be nice. I guess you can just go with filtered water and soap, if you're on a tight budget.

Anonymous said...

Ok, ‘boo boo kit’ in an altoids tin, goes in pocket whenever I go anywhere with the kids.

Loose, or in top half

6x assorted shapes and sizes fabric bandaids, incl one big enough for a scraped knee
3x sheets of rite-n-rain notepad paper.
3x imodium anti-diarrhea med

tucked firmly and completely into the bottom half
6x alcohol wipes
1x single use triple antibiotic cream
1x small tube crazy glue
4x fabric knuckle bandaids
1x One third of a paper book of matches
1x wooden golf pencil
1x prethreaded sewing needle, 18 inch black thread, wrapped around pencil
1x lens cleaner wipe
2x stick of caffinated chewing gum (BlackBlack, from asia)
1x safety pin

It is a little puffy, and won’t quite stay closed by itself, so I have a rubber bracelet around the outside (like the ‘live strong’ bracelets)

I also wrote “med only” on it to remind myself not to put anything with a blade in it so I can take it on the plane.

If I had a small tweezer, I’d include that too. and since I carry a credit card sized magnifier in my wallet, I don’t need one in my kit.


BTW, in addition to gym bags full of bulk supplies, I've got much more complete kits stashed everywhere. From a first responder trauma bag and OTC drug bags at the house to multiple 'first on scene stop the bleeding' kits one per vehicle, commercial first aid kits in both trucks, 'blow out kit' in range bag, IFAK that gets added for travel or when at an event with crowds, on and on.

@aesop, I've noticed what looks like a serious gap in first response medical, and am interested in any thoughts you have. It seems that all the serious stuff is designed for use on soldiers, ie. fit young men, and is sized appropriately. Where is the trauma response for this brave new world of school shootings? Where is the CAT or SOF-T or israeli bandage for the 4-14 year old? Even the guys who are making response bags to be pre-positioned at schools and other venues are stocking them with full sized gear. I've looked at using the israeli bandage on my 4yo, and I can't see it working, even on a leg.

Any thoughts?

Ex-Dissident said...

I've worked in several disasters and mostly what I did, was to provide oxygen to people with co poisoning, nebulizers to asthmatics (btw with proper exposure people who never had asthma might start wheezing), and irrigated and cleaned wounds. Sutured a couple of people too but the 1st 3 tasks were the bulk of my work. Most disaster areas are too dirty to do anything else. I know you focused on wound care here, but airway management will likely be a very important part of any field-care operation. Providing air with concentrated oxygen would be difficult out in the field, but albuterol puffer might prove a useful item in your kit.

Aesop said...

Nota bene one and all, this was an exercise in minimalist kit, aimed at self- and immediate-family/friend care, and limited to what was on hand at the dollar store, as a place to start.

Not the last word in individual health care. Or any kind of resource for mass casualties (except for about 20 seconds).

With that in mind:
1) If they'd had bottles of sterile non-preserved saline eyewash I'd have grabbed it, precisely because it's eyesafe wound wash far from running water. Utility 100, perishability 1.
2) I wouldn't get into Rx meds out of the gate, for a host of reasons, including legal, ethical, moral, medical, and logistical.
3) Absent first-world follow-up care - sterile surgical intervention, antibiotics, follow-on wound care, etc. - (exactly what isn't likely to abound in disasters and austere conditions) field suturing is both criminal and criminally stupid in most cases, unless one already has that level of training enough to know the difference. And possesses a buttload of supplies and the ability to stick around long enough to use them. Nothing in a kit this basic meets that criteria.

The point of this kit is primarily to make sure the person who has it can perform self-care for most common minor complaints, and thus remain part of the solution, rather than adding to the problem.

Patience, gentle readers. Journey of a thousand miles, and all that.
I'll be going over bigger and badder kits and special populations as the point(s) become worthwhile. I promise.

gamegetter II said...

I agree that field suturing should only be done as a last resort type thing,and then only done by someone who knows how to suture a wound.
Suturing wounds isn't like sewing,and it ain't all that easy to do. I have had to suture a wound,and had someone suture a wound I had-both were done when we were at least 3 days away from any real world medical care.

I just had to have a wound sutured at a real ER on Fri.due to a slip of a razor knife when cutting drywall. Damn near cut the pad off my index finger,and cut was deep enough that it was very close to the bone.
The ER Dr had a new resident in tow,who asked for my permission to be the one who sutured the wound.
I gave her my permission,because they have to learn by actually suturing wounds,not by practicing on pigs feet-which is what she told me they used. She had the needle part down fine,just had some trouble tying the knots.
I was told that most people won't give permission for new Dr's to suture wounds,and that I was one of the few.
I guess most people don't think it through-if no one gave permission for new Dr's to do procedures,then there's no way for the new Dr's to learn.

agraves said...

Remember, you get what you pay for. In terms of the antibiotic ointment you are probably okay to go cheap but duct tape is another matter. The cheap stuff does not stick well, especially when wet, and will not hold up. I say buy the best you can afford because there is a difference which will be appreciated when needed. Alex

Aesop said...

You're still missing the point, Alex. This isn't a Cadillac kit, it's what you could get for a piddling $20 in 15 minutes at the dollar store.
I'm trying to point out with it that you can put together a damn good kit for practically nothing invested in terms of time or money, and be way ahead of 95% of the population. I was not extolling it as the last word in preparedness.

If, however, you have the means to get better items than what you can cobble together from bargain basement retailers during an after-dinner expedition, you should of course by all means do so, and I encourage that most heartily.