Saturday, August 6, 2022

FAK Hack: The Pill Kit


Nota Bene: I'm not telling you that you should even have a pill kit. Nor what to put in your pill kit. I will tell you what I've put in mine. YOYO: You're on your own, in every sense - medical, legal, moral, etc., after that. Big Boy Rules apply. I'm not a doctor, and even if I was, I'm not your doctor. You should consult yours in reference to assembling any such item as described herein. Read and follow all label directions. You should understand medication action, proper dosages, indications, contraindications, and cautions of any and every medicine you carry, take, or might hand out. If you don't do that, I will testify in open court that you are an unmitigated moron, and should not be entrusted with sharp objects or even shoelaces. Test me, and see if I'm kidding. That constitutes your boilerplate safety briefing for this module.}

Step One: Obtain one (or more) standard MOLLE 12-round 12 gauge shotgun shell pouch(es), in whatever color of the rainbow they come in, and from whatever of 200 manufacturers tickles your happy switch. IDGAF about either point, and it doesn't matter for purposes of this briefing.

Step Two: Go to the Travel Aisle of your local pharmacy retailer. Obtain at least two bottles each of Tylenol and Advil. Brighter students will figure out why. Stay with the class, please.

Step Three: Obtain a six-pack of small bead vials at Hobby Lobby, WallyWorld, Michael's Crafts, etc.

Step Four: Open all the 10-pill bottles of Tylenol and Motrin. Double pack each one. (FTR, I could get 14 Extra Strength Tylenols into one tube, and 18 Motrins into the other.

Step Five: Screw the caps onto those two bottles. Dump the extra pills back into the house supply, unless you have someplace else to put or use them. Put the two full bottles into two slots in the MOLLE pouch. They're almost exactly the size of a standard 2 3/4" 12. ga. shell. How cool is that?

Step Six: Peel the entire labels off the remaining two empty tubes. I put an entire 24-pill bottle of Aleve into one, and all 48 of a bottle of 81mg chewable baby aspirin into the other one.

Step Seven: Photocopy the labels from the bottles of origin of those medications, including name, dose, maker, lot number, expiration date, indications, and dosages. (The warnings etc. are Tom Clancy novel length.) Get some clear UV resistant packing tape, and label those bottles, sealing them outside the bottle, inside the tape.

Step Eight: Take the small bead vials (which are slightly smaller than a shell: 3/4" x 2 1/4"), and do the same procedure in turn with Immodium AD, Sudafed PE, Benadryl, and Pepcid AC. Obtain all in hard pill form, (not gelcaps, not ever, which will self-destruct in the bottle by the time you wake up the next day.)

You've now filled up eight of your twelve slots.

The last four I selected were an antacid (Rolaids), SPF 15 lip balm, and Original and Less Drowsy Dramamine, the latter two of which already come in travel-size tubes. 

Original curbs motion sickness. Less Drowsy is meclizine, which curbs the vomiting that results. Both are handy to have.

Benadryl is an antihistamine. Sudafed PE is a decongestant. Immodium AD is a world-class anti-diarrheal. Pepcid is an acid blocker, but the way it works is as an H² histamine blocker. The histamine response is why you swell up with allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. I'm not telling you to use it for that. I'm telling you I carry it, because every ED physician I've ever worked for, uses 40 mg of it for exactly that, alongside 50 mg of the Benadryl. YMMV.

You now have a small pouch of OTCs that will stand you in good stead against most of the things you can treat yourself for, in multiple situations. Which clips and buckles onto the outside of all manner of pouches, bags, belts, etc.

The Rolaids being in a paper foil roll, I put them in a small ziplock bag (found in most jewelry craft aisles), making it completely water resistant, as the other bottle and items are already. (They won't survive prolonged immersion while wading the Amazon, but a quick dunk, or a steady downpour on the exposed pouch, won't affect them much.

You could do another pouch, with your own RX meds, antibiotics, etc, plus additional OTC items. Including water purification tabs. If you go by the hobby paint aisles at Hobby Lobby, etc., you can also find small polyethylene dropper bottles that seal absolutely tight, and hold about 1/2 to 1 ounce of fluid. (IOW, they'll pass a TSA inspection.) 

You can (and should) then put rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, povidone-iodine, household bleach, etc. from much larger bottles into those little versions, and label them, and they'll fit into such a pouch as well, or your main FAK, without them leaking. Thus making you able to carry a personal-use quantity of all manner of modern medical potions, without toting 6 gallons of liquid, plus the packaging for same, and in handy dropper bottles for direct applications. 

(NOTE: Hydrogen peroxidebleach, and povidone-iodine bottles should be either painted completely on the outside with black paint, or dipped into a dark shade of Plasti-Dip to the bottom of the cap threads, then allowed to dry, before filling, and labelling. This because ambient light rapidly inactivates all of the above.)

Label everything scrupulously. Check contents at least annually. Rotate stock as appropriate.

You've now got a world-class expeditionary medicine kit, in a space slightly larger than your newest cell phone pouch.

Warning: You may want to go at this in bits, because the components are rather pricey, done all at once. YMMV.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Bonus for fellow space geeks like SiG:

This is just a modernized and ruggedized version of what NASA did for the Apollo missions to the moon.

Apollo missions lunar pill kit

Truly, there's nothing new under the sun.


  1. Good on Ya!! One of your best yet!!! Especially under the theme of " what CAN we do" really good! Very positive and useful!! Thank you very much!!

  2. Not as neat and tidy as what I have, but the ingredients are nearly all the same. Two Thumbs up!

  3. Thats a GREAT idea.

    I would add one caveat: Depending on your AO, especially in big cities and wealthy suburbs, it is likely prudent to avoid anything that even remotely appears military/ tactical. In that case, avoid green, black, brown, and any form of camouflage. Instead, look for pouches in blue, orange, yellow, or even pink so that you don't draw attention. Follow this rule with the rest of your gear as well. In cases like this, I'm partial to dark blue and burnt orange fabrics since they are unobtrusive yet not military/ tactical.

    1. I wish this idea would die out. It really doesn't matter. The fact that you're moving around when few people are or that you're carrying anything makes you a target.

      The shit hasn't even hit the fan, and there's people that will kill you out of boredom. I've even heard people apply it to firearms. "I'm going to carry a lever action .30-30 and nobody will bother me because I don't look like a threat!! I'm just a guy out hunting!"

      Meanwhile. "Hey Billy. We can swap that guy's .30-30 for six cans of green beans! Shoot that fucker in the head."

    2. Events in the recent past say otherwise.
      Remember news reports during Sandy and other recent disasters? People walking around in camo were targeted by police when they didn't touch anything else, even looters.

    3. During previous disasters I recall people in plain clothes with no gear being harassed, disarmed, and forcibly relocated. It's less to do with clothing. More of being a retard and thinking the authorities are friends. Officer Friendly isn't. You do you. My preference is to be out of sight and ready to di di mau the area if that changes. Not hamstring myself by cutting out effective gear.

  4. What about TP? Did they have TP in the Apollo moon kit?

    1. Uh, you're obviously not familiar with (or thinking clearly) with how Apollo crew's suited up for mission's, or the basic weight restrictions/lift capabilities for any manned launch, or the physics of using asswipe in a micro gravity environment, let alone the mechanics of disposing/storing the used asswipe.

  5. Thank you!

    Most useful information.

  6. @Anon 4:33P,

    Not as a first aid item.
    Nor any other kind. Low bulk food, and no point.

  7. Thanks. You have reminded me that it IS time to recreate the kit I took to Pakistan in 04-ish.

    Night Driver

  8. Thanks once more, Brother!
    Always good stuff.
    Semper Fi

    Boat Guy

  9. Benadryl, otherwise known as Diphenhydramine HCl 25mg (little pink pill)......which can be purchased for less then half the cost, and in greater bulk volume.

    President Elect B Woodman

    1. An allergy specialist told me to always have liquid benadryl on hand. Can be used externally and internally, helpful as a sleep aid and as an antiemetic.

  10. Came back to thank you again! On guerilla field hospital, remember crawl before you walk before you run. Ours could roughly approximate a WW1 level care facility...Yeah we got one...lots of linens bought at Goodwill and Salvation Army..Lots of home made saline, and debriding solution...lots of improvised disposable goodies...courtesy of hard work, and listening to lots of sources including the dressing down on this site, we aren't giving up, we get better one bite at a time..Got a long way to go.Lots of antibiotics from sources not to be mentioned...lots of things...ARE WE GOOD? Hell No!! ARE WE LEARNING???You bet!!If we can get to WW2 level that would be great...Logistics of sterilization of fundamental?boring things..yeah we struggle but we consider a victory when we can obtain and purify water(in quantity) on a rapid mobile basis in our AO....Keep telling us what we CAN do!! One bite At A Time! We love you Aesop!

    1. I got to thinking about this comment a lot. I never realized how much water a clinic or hospital uses. Producing a large quantity of purified water would be essential. Given the importance of hand washing and removing debris from wounds. Now I've got an idea stuck in my head for a portable twenty gallon water purification set-up.

  11. look for pouches in blue, orange, yellow, or even pink so that you don't draw attention. Follow this rule with the rest of your gear as well.

    Grey is a good neutral color, as is khaki on navy blue.

    LA Police Supply has a lot of useful bags, backpacks, and other pouch type items. Their logo is easily removed, as it is generally stitched on, not epoxied or silk-screened on.

  12. Water purification tablets or AquaMira might come in handy along the way.

  13. Aesop how about an
    Eagle Industries Signal pouch?, it has loops on the inside to hold Flares that could be repurposed for Med Vials? you could even add some wound bandages or what ever else in the inside pocket too. It has molle Attachments and a belt loop , you can get it in Sage Green or Coyote Brown

  14. Easier and cheaper than painting or dipping those containers. Wrap them in Al foil.

  15. Has anyone figured out how to pdf one of his post without capturing all the links on the side. I'd like to print the usage knowledge and put in pouch with drugs.
    Thanks for the info kind Sir.

  16. @Yankee Terrier,

    EMT here… is your homemade saline ok for IV’s or just for wound cleaning/debridement?

    How would one go about making 0.9% NS for IV’s for a field hospital anyway?

    (Don’t mock me too hard Aesop. I’m new at this, only know how to use the modern equipment I’m provided with, IV’s even though I have the skills are still for now outside my scope, and I don’t know what I don’t know.)

    I do know that most of our medical supplies come from China and if we get in a hot enough war with them or we collapse and can’t pay, we won’t have resupply until we retool and make our own domestically.

    Any IV needs several disposable supplies we likely won’t be getting. But once upon a time IV’s were hung in glass. And before that, like at the beginning of IV’s, there were big fat metal syringes or bottles and you couldn’t even see your solution. How was the drip rate regulated back then? Was tubing sterilized and reused?

    There is also already a shortage of epinephrine for the last couple years. We are carrying out of date epi on our trucks (With permission) and have some in the cardiac kit that is 1:1000 and a 10 mL flush that you have to mix yourself if you want 1:10,000. This is not very fast when you need fast. Fortunately we have some 1:10,000 also.

  17. @Anon 3:22A,
    Hence these two lines in the OP:"You could do another pouch, with your own RX meds, antibiotics, etc, plus additional OTC items. Including water purification tabs."

    Any pouch will serve. I think I made it pretty obvious why I suggested a shotshell pouch.

    Foil wrapping would work, but only as long as the wrapping held out. I was going for more rugged/robust and long-lasting than that.

    People should choose according to the dictates of their own sensibilities. I totally get going "ND": non-descript.
    A shotshell ammo pouch could get you the wrong kind of interest, particularly from military vets, and/or guys with guns and badges, sometimes. But if you're in an environment that the pouch itself constitutes grounds for anyone to cap you for it, you have problems far bigger than what color pouch to choose, and whether or not to render first aid to yourself or others. I suggest this in the context of self-aid, more than wandering the post-apocalyptic wastelands of the Outback looking for gasoline. Though it will work in both cases, in the latter another dozen 12 ga. shells rather than OTC meds might be the smarter bet.

    For people who wanted to carry OTCs, under rather better civilizational conditions, ranging from a day hike to Beirut or Sarajevo under shellfire, I think what I suggested is a pretty good idea, and offer it as such to anyone of like mind. Everybody has to decide for themselves how "gray" to be. FWIW, my kit for in the car is nearly all black, because it blends with the seatback molle panel, and matches the interior upholstery. And lives under a strategic bath towel, so as to be functionally invisible to any casual look, including a traffic stop for a ticket, and not become car burglar bait. YMMV.

  18. Good post, great tips.

    I've been using pill bags, basically small zip lock bags, for my walk around stashes. They pack flat with bandaids, a couple safety pins and a couple patches of moleskin.

  19. Why? I never use any of these. Why would I need them? I'm open to be educated. Why do I need them?

  20. Anon @ 0322: Aesop did mention household bleach. 8 drops per gallon is the usual recommendation.
    --Tennessee Budd

  21. @Scurvy: View the page in mobile mode - append "?m=1" to the end of the URL. Then you only get the article and comments. Then, print to a PDF. The PDF looks great.

  22. @Anon 1:40P,

    You got me. You're right; there's no possible use for medicine in a FAK, ever. All received medical wisdom since Herodotus was just one big sham. Suture self.

    The long answer will have to wait until I have the time and inclination.

  23. @JW,

    Super Glue: Not so much. Unless the kids are getting lippy on a long cross-country drive.

  24. @Anon 1:40 - If you cannot imagine why having antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, fever reducers, and the like if you're in a disaster scenario, you're probably too short for this ride.

    @JW - the problem with super glue is that it has a shelf life, which is decreased greatly based on storage conditions.

    I'm remiss in that I've been talking about building an IFAK for years and still haven't found the time to do it. Any recommendations on pre-built packs that will get me most of the way there to start with? Half of something beats all of nothing.


  25. In answer to the question about homemade saline for iv use, our neighborhood group has a woman who did that is a previous life in a conflict In a third world locale. I am not personally familiar. Sorry for lack of better answer.

  26. Absolutely one of your best. Well done, and achievable. Didn't know about the Pepcid behavior, RE the histamine reaction. So, sprinkles.

  27. I use superglue on myself. Burns like fire, briefly, but then keeps the sand and grit, or tomato sauce, or whatever out of the wound. It's not perfect, being hard and brittle but after they changed the formula for Nu-skin, it's the only thing that stays on.

    I use it as infrequently as possible, but sometimes needs must.


    As an aside, I recently had many thousands of tiny, hairlike needles in my arm that hurt like fire every time I brushed up against them. I coated my arm with a thick layer of Elmers white glue (like you did in grade school to make fake wrinkly skin) and after it dried, peeled the whole patch off. It successfully pulled all the little needle hairs out too. I guess I did learn something I'd use in later life in Mrs Gavin's class after all.

  28. That kit will not be permitted by the Tub Stackers for commercial flights for the very reason that you remove items from their original container, homemade labels not withstanding. Other than that, you're good to go.

  29. "Unless the kids are getting lippy on a long cross-country drive."

    --with some kids of my own, I bought a bottle of crazy glue solvent as soon as they started messing around with crafts :-)

    Haven't needed it yet...

  30. @brian, a refill pack for an IFAK is a fine start, if you have a bag for it. I bought several when they were on sale from one of the online vendors.

    I can't recall if I got mine at North American Rescue, but this is the sort of thing I mean...

    there are other vendors and other kits with small variations. And like everything, shopping wisely might save a few bux, but it might take longer too, or get you counterfeit chinese TQs...

    My home kit started with this one (from a different vendor)

    and I built off it.

    Not a commercial for Grainger, their prices are usually high, and you need to be a business to buy from them, but their selection is VAST compared to others.

    If nothing else, you can use the list of included stuff as a base for your own shopping.

    And our host probably has some internal links...


  31. Aesop, Just wanted to say thank you. I jumped on your advice. The next day I came down with a hellacious flu. The Dramamine Less Drowsy, spared me from two days of puking.

  32. Thank you for this! I'm building several as we speak.
    FYI, until 9/25/22 Costco Business Center (there's one in Westminster) has 12 packs of the Tylenol tubes on sale for $11.99.

  33. The bleach… used to sterilize equipment? What other medical use is there for bleach?

  34. @SomeGuy,
    Purifying water as well, obviously.
    4 drops/quart, per the Clorox website:
    A 30 ml bottle is enough for about a month's use at a consumption rate of 1 gal/day.
    A ml is usually about 15 drops (abbreviated gtts.), or nearly a gallon's worth of clean water.

    And yes, higher concentrations make a disinfectant for surfaces or equipment.
    But you'd need a lot more than you could carry in that IFAK pill kit.
    Handle with caution.