Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Well-Stocked First Aid Kit

Hi Tribe Members,

This is Sarah L, guest-blogging for the Nature Flock. This is the first in a series of articles about hiking with kids. We will discuss creating a first-aid kit, packing a well-stocked hiking pack and general tips for making hikes fun with children of different ages.

When I started hiking with my kids on a regular basis, I created a checklist of everything I thought we would need. I packed plenty of diapers, water, snacks, sunscreen and bug spray; I also made sure we had a first aid kit. I felt sure that our pack was filled and we would be ready for anything. Last week, I discovered my mistake.

While hiking, my toddler tripped going down the trail and landed face-first, gashing her forhead open in several spots. It was at that point that I discovered the all-purpose first aid kit that my husband had thrown into our pack was out-of-date and completely inadequate for our needs. While my 3-year-old screamed and thrashed like a wounded animal, I discovered that we had no gauze pads or disinfectant, we had no bandages larger than finger-sized, the triple antibiotic ointment expired 8 years ago (yes, EIGHT YEARS ago!), the ice-pack wouldn’t get cold, and the roll of bandaging tape was so old that it had melted together and I couldn’t tear any off.

First off, my toddler is fine. I jerry-rigged a bandage using an absorbent pad (kind of like a small maxi-pad), the out-of-date antibiotic ointment, and we used her sunhat to keep the whole thing on her head. Luckily, when we got to the car, I was able to use our well-stocked car kit to properly bandage her up. This whole situation, however, made me realize how poorly I had prepared for any emergencies on the trails with my daughters. I figured that as long as I had a first aid kit - any first aid kit - we would be okay. What I didn’t realize was that our first aid kit needed to be customized to our needs and regularly checked to make sure that everything was up-to-date.

After several hours of internet research and list-making, a whole lot of scrounging from our medicine cabinet, and a little bit of shopping at the drug store, I can now say that we have an appropriate and well-stocked first aid kit. I want to share what I learned about creating a child-friendly hiking first aid kit.

Your First Aid Kit should include:

  • Lots of bandages, assorted sizes
  • Sterile gauze pads and/or a roll of gauze
  • Tape (I like the kind that is pre-perforated. It’s really hard to tear a strip of tape off cleanly when your hands are shaking!)
  • Tweezers & needle to remove splinters or ticks
  • Small scissors
  • Ibuprofen (include age-appropriate doses - adult as well as infant/child)
  • Liquid antihistamine (include age-appropriate doses - adult as well as infant/child)
  • Triple-antibiotic ointment
  • Instant ice-pack
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • A first-aid guide - ours was included with the kit

When you stock your pack, be sure to use appropriate products. Choose the proper medications for your child’s age/weight, and don’t forget to include medications for yourself, too. Make sure you write down the correct dose of medication for your child(ren) based on age/weight. Update it as they grow.

If you have any special medical conditions, take those into consideration. For example, if you are hiking with someone who has a heart condition, you will probably want to include low-dosage aspirin. Never give aspirin to children under 12 years old. If you or your child has allergies, include an epi-pen. (Which you should be trained to use safely!) If you regularly take medication for any condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, bring some of that medicine along in case you get stuck on the trail for some reason. Think about your situation, and jot down anything extra that you might need.

Have you been in a situation that required you to use your first aid kit? What do you consider to be the most vital thing in your kit?


  1. Great post Sarah. Thank you for doing this. It is important and so glad that R. is ok. hugs,Angela

  2. Want to add Lavendar oil is a good one to carry in a first aid really good for bee stings and mild enough to put directly on skin even a childs and Rescue Remedy it is a homeopathic but can work well in scary situations.. If you a mom take it first then to child so you can stay calm!:)

  3. Thank you Sarah for this inclusive list. I love lists! My first aid kits needs some revamping, definitely gotta add scissors and tweezers. We also carry arnica pills and cream, calendula cream, and lavender/tea tree oil water. For those bumps, cuts, bruises, burns, and disinfecting purposes.

  4. Arnica is amazing. We used it after R got hurt, and even though she landed directly on her head, she had no bruising at all the next day!