The “Bare Minimum” EDC First Aid Kit

You will get hurt at some point. It’s virtually inevitable. If not, it’ll be someone you’re with, and a hospital isn’t always right around the corner.

It’s basic self-reliance, along with carrying a gun to save lives, to have the resources to plug a hole, stop the bleeding, prevent infection and control pain. Our bare minimum first aid kit is intended to be slim, lightweight, and inexpensive ($35 with this link).

This does NOT turn you into an emergency medical responder. This is NOT a full-fledged “field trauma kit.” However, these are lifesaving items, and you might very well be the only one around who has them available when they’re needed.

Our “Bare Minimum” EDC First Aid Kit contains the seven items below, which we’ve also grouped together in a single Amazon list.

  • Surgipad surgical dressings are an effective way to stop heavy bleeding.
  • Non-adherent foam dressing also helps control bleeding, but we HIGHLY recommend that you carry this to use underneath the Surgipad dressing. This will minimize pain and additional bleeding when the bandage is changed, because this won’t take tissue off with it when the dressing comes off.
  • Medical tape: Self-explanatory – once you have controlled the bleeding with the surgical bandages, use medical tape to keep them there.
  • Peroxide wash: This one comes in an appropriately sized spray bottle. Use this to disinfect wounds before dressing them. It’s also an effective way to prevent infection of more minor cuts and scrapes. You may want to a few cotton balls into your kit for easy application of the peroxide.
  • Tweezers for tick removal, removal of debris and glass from wounds, etc.
  • Aspirin: People tend not to carry Aspirin, but it’s very handy, because you can chew 325mg to somewhat reduce the effect of a heart attack while you get to a hospital.
  • Benadryl to slow the effects of a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

In conjunction with the first aid kit, here is a good 6-minute video to help you learn how to handle a heavy bleeding situation, or refresh your memory on how to do it.

In addition, you may also want to include:

  • A tourniquet. Know how to use it, but it’s not complicated. As JWT (a former Army medic) says, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze until the red blood stops. Here is a 1-page illustrated guide to using a tourniquet, provided by the makers of the leading combat tourniquet. Here is a TTAG article about the statistics surrounding tourniquets and their lifesaving potential.
  • QuikClot clotting gauze. These are bulkier than the surgical dressing solution above, more expensive, and not strictly necessary, so we don’t include them in the bare essentials kit. However, they are very good for controlling heavy bleeding.
  • EMT shears to quickly expose a wound under clothing.
  • A couple pairs of gloves for your own safety as well as for miscellaneous “dirty jobs.”
  • Advil and Tylenol for pain management.
  • Imodium/Loperamide for when shit happens.
  • Neosporin as a disinfectant and topical pain reliever for smaller wounds.
  • Superglue or a liquid bandage product to close smaller wounds.

Once more, this is a lightweight and inexpensive first aid setup that doesn’t prepare you for every possible eventuality, but can make a big difference in the most common situations.

comments

  1. avatar MilitantCentrist says:

    Good article, and a good reminder that sh*t happens even when you win the fight. Easy to lose perspective while reading gun blogs, too; there’s plenty of bad things that can happen that have nothing to do with guns, knives, and flashlights.

    1. avatar Bearpaw says:

      Garbage!

      Five feet of duct tape would be better.

      “You may want to include a tourniquet”

      Clueless article. Got a booboo. Got you covered. But that’s all.

      Come on TTAG. Get with the program. First aid is more than comfort aid. Why not just skip all the kit and just call 911? There. got it all covered from papercut to decapitation.

      1. avatar Robb says:

        Made you click.

        But, you do have a point. So does the article. Sometimes 911 is 15 mins+ away. You can die in that amount of time.

        Aspirin and Benadryl can be live savers if your’e more than 30mins out from EMS. So can a tourniquet, even if made of duct tape.

        1. avatar Chadwick says:

          The asperin and Benadryl are just obvious ones that most people miss. Keep if in your car people. Just two weeks ago Benadryl saved me from coming down off the mountain early to take someone to the ER after a wasp sting. Those things can be an inconvenience at best, a minor emergency, or something serious. The problem is that it’s different with every person and could be different every time.

          Don’t forget gloves!
          Oh and super glue helps if you want something sealed so you aren’t jamming dirt and stuff in it like a cut under or off to the side of a nail.

    2. avatar Jack says:

      How many times have you “won the fight”? And how many of those times were you injured? It might help some of us determine how many supplies to carry around day to day. Thanks.

  2. avatar VerendusAudeo says:

    I’m very impressed with this list. I keep most of these items in the emergency first aid backpack I keep in my car. The superglue and Benadryl are really good ideas that I hadn’t thought of. Though to add to the list, I recommend Betadine (an industry standard antiseptic), petroleum jelly (a barrier from infection or for water resistance), and space blankets (to prevent hypothermia). Tylenol/acetaminophen is very effective for treating fevers in addition to its role as an analgesic. I once used it to bring a patient down from a fever of 105.6 ºF back to a safe range. Also, this really has nothing to do with first aid kits, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few clean bath towels and a clean set of comfortable dry clothes in your car.

    1. avatar Chadwick says:

      Especially socks! I also keep some Vienna sausages in my car for keeping everyone in there happy in case of a flat or whatever. Like dry clothes it seems like the little stuff helps keep everyone involved going.

      I will also add a fresh and sealed water bottle. I’ve pulled up to an accident before in the summer and there was nothing to do for the lady that was hit besides give her shade and wait for the paramedics. Sure as hell she would have liked a bottle of water that wasn’t a grungy refill from my truck. Needs must and all…

    2. avatar Splic3r says:

      “A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.  Partly because it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars that shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini-raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
      More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value.  For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in the possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit, etc etc.  Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker may accidentally have “lost”.  What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still know where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

      1. avatar Mike H says:

        Winner!! Love the series. I keep a microfiber towel in my DEC bag for these very reasons!

  3. avatar neiowa says:

    This is a preschool booboo kit. No Barney bandaids?

    This once grate site has really gone down the crapper.

    1. avatar L says:

      If you’re looking for a grate site, I have something you might like…

      https://tinyurl.com/y8p7r6wz

    2. avatar Kenneth says:

      Has it ever! From very few good items anymore, to half of the ‘articles’ now being adverts in drag, to the new refusal to correct errors, or even to read the comments and be aware of them. I guess top corporate ‘feelz’ are just far too fragile snowflakes to ever be able to read that they’ve ever been mistaken. Yes, the new corporate masters have certainly done their duty quickly, taking something formerly fine and crapping it up as quickly as possible.
      It sure didn’t take long for the really knowledgeable, like dyspeptic gunsmith, to abandon this new foolishness did it?

    3. avatar Kenneth says:

      And now, just a few items away, here we are, the new low. TTAG is scrapping the bottom of the barrel, only a few inches from the final solution. Once a site starts recycling last weeks shit stories as today’s news, the final trip down the sewer can’t be far away. From here on out their end is virtually inevitable.
      https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2018/10/kat-ainsworth/all-that-glitters-everyday-carry-pocket-dump-of-the-day/
      https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2018/09/kat-ainsworth/minimal-customized-carry-everyday-carry-pocket-dump-of-the-day/
      The real sad part is that they will never even know, since they don’t bother with real news or the comments any more. The first they will know that they’ve been flushed with the rest of the turds is when it goes dark all of a sudden, and some body asks; “what’s that smell?”
      But, the bright side, either Farago, or someone else, will just start it under a new name, and then build it up and sell it again. Maybe even to this same group of schmucks, so they can rinse and repeat their trip down the drain.
      “You used to love gettin’ flushed, man. Every Saturday night you’d be like “flush me, J flush me.” -MIB2

  4. avatar el Possum Guapo Standartenfuher " they think we're making pizza's Oberst von Burn says:

    I’ve found most of those items can be substituted with Whiskey. In dire straits the bottle can be broken and used to sirger the corn stalk out of your friends nose who tripped, ” I told him, corns made for drinking, not walkin in. Stay outta them corn fields.”

  5. avatar Charlie Foxtrot says:

    LOL. An ouchies & boo boos EDC kit. Completely clueless!

    A tourniquet (or two or three) is a MUST in an everyday carry (EDC) kit, unless you plan to bleed out. Next up on that list should be:

    – an Israeli Bandage Battle Dressing (or two or three)
    – a chest seal — no, duct tape and plastic wrap is not a good replacement.
    – a nasal airway
    – a knife and a resqme
    – 2 pairs of gloves

    An EDC kit is for immediate action medical. That’s why it is a CARRY kit. You can have your MASH setup in the back of your car, if you want, but you will bleed out on the way to your car after you got shot in the convenience store if you do not have a tourniquet ON YOU.

    I usually do not go hiking/hunting/skiing only with an EDC kit. For such activities, additional things should be carried, such as a thermal blanket, and some of the things listed in the article.

    1. avatar Kenneth says:

      “a chest seal — no, duct tape and plastic wrap is not a good replacement”
      Yes, it is!
      It will keep you alive with a sucking chest wound long enough(hopefully) to get to hospital. It’s not as good as the purpose built tool, but good enough to get by for a while. Always remember never to let perfection get in the way of “good enough”.
      For the one saved by a makeshift one way valve, it WAS a good replacement, even if it wasn’t perfect. It could be “good enough”. A Bic pen and a pocket knife aren’t as good as a trach tube and a scalpel either, but for a patient with a swollen airway in the wilderness, these too can be “good enough”, to survive with.

      1. avatar Charlie Foxtrot says:

        Try unrolling and cutting a roll of duct tape with bloody hands and see for your self that it doesn’t work. You likely won’t even be able to create a makeshift seal, let alone apply it. Try it out and see for yourself. Drench your hands in liquid soap to simulate bloody hands and see if you can use your duct tape method. By the way, that’s why all plastic-wrapped items should have duct tape pull tabs: https://youtu.be/cbWpiqhs7Ro

  6. avatar TomC says:

    The list is decent — it represents a layer between the usual prepackaged “first aid kit” full of bandaids, tiny packets of neosporin, and a couple of NSAID tablets, but still far short of a minimal trauma kit.

    BUT for anyone whose routine carry includes a firearm, you do need to step up to a minimal trauma kit that can handle a simple gunshot wound.

    The tourniquet should not be on the afterthought ‘you may want to include’ part of the list — if you are anticipating the kind of “heavy bleeding” mentioned in the article, you should have a tourniquet (and you must know how to use it — not try to unfold and read the useless miniature instructions provided with most tourniquets)

    Missing from that ‘you may want to include’ list is a pair of chest seals — these are a major improvement over the duct tape and occlusive material that should have been in the main list.

  7. avatar Dee Carlile says:

    Hydrogen peroxide is out. Saline or soap and water is in.

    Bummer, makes me question some of the other expert opinion of TTAG.

    1. avatar Jr says:

      This. Peroxide does more harm than good on wounds. (Same with alcohol)

  8. avatar TomC says:

    The link provided for “non-adherent foam dressing” takes you to an Amazon listing for the 2×2 size dressing. That size can be appropriate for its intended medical usage covering SMALL seeping wounds, but that size is too small to be practical for use in the way described in the article. You need at least the 4×4 size, and the 6×6 size would be better.

  9. avatar FlamencoD says:

    My EDC doesn’t contain first aid supplies as far as on my person, but I have a store bought first aid kit in both cars, and a get home bag in my car with other helpful items.

  10. avatar jwtaylor says:

    W. T. F.

  11. avatar Ardent says:

    Disclaimers: I drive a Tahoe and don’t mind it being ‘messy’, and I have zero formal medical training.

    That said, with all the space in the back of the truck, I carry quite a bit if gear. From the comfort station med kit listed in the OP to more serious stuff for actual emergencies. The little comfort kit stays up front, because a kit like that is NOT emergency first aid. If it is fixable with bandaids and Neosporin it was not an emergency in the first place. Frankly, these “First Aid” kits could with all safety be left behind, since little enough in them is useful for real emergencies.

    Why not turn it on its head. First one should pack Bleedstop or other heavy bleeding control bandages, foams, powders or what have you, loads of gauze, kerlix, tourniquets and such other things as might be helpful with serious wounds from which a person might die. Then as one prepares further, add the comfort items and preventatives like bandaids, Neosporin and the like. I think this article, like almost all articles on the subject has it dead backward. I can ignore small cuts and such pretty safely while ignoring that severed artery or sucking chest isn’t going to work out so well. While the bandaids and loparamide will get used more often, they are seldom lifesaving.

    All that being said, what I find, having so much space to cart things around, and having prepared for the extremes means that when predictable, minor emergencies arise, they are readily handled by improvised use of the more serious equipment, where as major emergencies are poorly served by improvised use of a comfort kit.

    Moreover, the little things are kept in perspective by the serious kit, and little problems that would have derailed an unprepared person are hardly problems at all.

    This effect isn’t limited to medicine, but rather many such emergencies. A rifle will do almost anytime a pistol will, but the reverse is not so. Likewise a full sized shovel will do for an e-tool but the reverse is not necessarily so.

    The point is that if you prepare for the larger, more serious disaster, space and cost allowing, you’ll likely have more than enough to deal with all the little things that more commonly happen as well.

    The ‘minimum kit ‘ is actually the Bleedstop and tourniquet, and the bandaids and Neosporin are the advanced kit. Make sense?

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I have a decades of medical training and experience. Everything you said makes sense.

  12. avatar Kenneth says:

    Get rid of the neosporin and peroxide. Replace them with Silver Colloid and Tea Tree oil(Melaleuca oil), which do the same job plus many more. Trade the surgical tape for a big strip of duct tape. Much more versatile. It will double as a tourniquet and, with a credit card or other piece of plastic, will even treat a collapsed lung. Just put tape around three sides of the credit card and center the whole thing over the sucking chest wound. An instant one way air valve.
    If I’m going to carry some piece of gear, it needs to be as versatile and strong as possible. I don’t carry anything that has only one possible use. Even my eyeglasses do double duty as a signal flasher and fire lens.
    In fact, after reading this book:
    https://www.amazon.com/Duct-Tape-911-Yourself-Together/dp/0991511905#reader_0991511905
    one might just find that duct tape could be the only medical gear one needs to carry. Except for latex gloves. Never touch a bleeding stranger with your bare hands. You have no idea where he might have been…

  13. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

    “You will get hurt at some point. It’s virtually inevitable. If not, it’ll be someone you’re with, and a hospital isn’t always right around the corner.”

    Actually. no. In my sixty nine years I’ve never been injured walking down the street. Nor has anyone else I’ve known.

    Remember, this is described as an EDC kit. I’m not carrying around a fifteen or twenty pound bag of gear “just because” something might happen. If I’m driving a car, sure, throw a whole Go Bag in it. But EDC to me means stuff you’re carrying, not stuff you’re transporting.

    At home, you need a first aid kit. I’ve not had one for decades, either, but always did have some Band-Aids and medications. Now I have a half-decent first aid kit as a result of studying prepping. At home you can have a whole pharmacy and hospital emergency room, if you have the money and the space. Again, in a car you can have whatever fits that you can afford. In which case, why bother with a “minimum” list?

    Let’s distinguish between EDC needs and preparedness needs. They aren’t always the same. In my view, if you’re carrying more gear in normal EDC – on your person – that weighs more than five pounds (not including firearms and their accessories which are obviously heavy), you’re carrying too much. And if you’re carrying stuff you haven’t used in a year, aside from obvious “essentials” like a pocket knife, flashlight, lighter, etc., then stop carrying it. If you carry concealed, then some medical essentials such as a tourniquet make sense.

    Otherwise this list is OK for a minimum first aid kit. But if you’re not carrying it on your person, then go for the expanded list and really be prepared.

  14. avatar jakee308 says:

    A tourniquet is a must have for the basic kit. Not an addition. Also chest seals and an israeli bandage.

    Pressure is the first resort for life threatening wounds, next is a tourniquet. All the other stuff is really unnecessary unless you’re way out in the boonies and then the tourniquet and bandages will be critical.

    You can survive a small cut or two when you’re far from populated areas. The others may mean the difference between life or death if you have hours to get to help. Or wait for help to arrive.

  15. avatar adverse5 says:

    We found out basic first aid was best, stuff small rags in small holes, stuff big rags in big holes.

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