What’s in a First Aid Kit and why?
When starting your DofE journey, there is much to get excited about and getting outdoors is a fantastic experience. Usually, most expeditions go very smoothly with few issues and will be talked about for years to come.
However, occasionally, an emergency can happen and being prepared is essential. First aid training will happen during your expedition preparation and training and is perhaps one of the most useful skills you’ll ever learn.
Before you go on your expedition, ensure you have a good first aid kit that’s easily accessible, know what’s inside it and know how to use it.
Your DofE Leader or Expedition Supervisor will be able to help you with exactly what you will need for the specific expedition you are going on.
Here are some key bits to have in your own First Aid Kit:
- Plasters and Bandages
These are a staple component of any First Aid Kit and are great for minor cuts and grazes where you need to quickly patch yourself up. There are different types of bandages and they can be used to hold dressings in place, provide support for injuries around joints, or can even be used as a temporary sling.
- Sterile Gauze Pads
If you cut yourself, these are absorbent pads to place over a wound before strapping or bandaging.
- Disposable Vinyl Gloves
Gloves can be very important if you are unable to wash your hands or are in a remote area and need to treat wounds. They are light and take up barely any space in your kit. Wearing two pairs increases everyone’s safety and we’d recommend you always wear them.
- Hygienic Cleansing Wipes
Using a wipe can help any wounds heal by cleaning them and removing any bacteria from the area.
- Blister Plasters
This may seem less important but you will be walking, riding or paddling and these can make all the difference. Raw and blistered skin can make walking unbearable, but using these plasters can make your trip a lot easier. If possible, administer when you first suspect an issue.
- Anti-bacterial Dry Wash Gel
Not normally found in First Aid Kits, but if you are treating an injury, this liquid soap requires no water and helps ensure that your hands are clean and bacteria-free. These gels are obviously much more common now and can be used for everyday use too.
When you need to keep a dressing on, tape is the best thing to keep it in place. Even duct tape can be great for this, but Micropore or Zinc Oxide are the tapes usually found in First Aid Kits.
Ibuprofen or paracetamol can be important to dull pain for minor or more serious injuries, but they should be used with caution and only with adult supervision.
You’ll often need to cut your dressings to the right size and scissors are the easiest item to help you do this.
You can get splinters or other small objects that need removing with tweezers. It means you don’t have to make direct contact with your hands. They can also be used for tick removal.
Other items to consider:
Eyewash – for any foreign body in your eyes.
Resuscitation aids – to help give CPR if a casualty stops breathing.
Duct tape – this is mentioned above but we cannot stress how many uses this has.
Burn gels – these are ideal to add into a pack as burns are a common injury around the campsite.
Suncream – you may have suncream packed elsewhere, but a little tube or sachet for emergencies in your First Aid Kit is not a bad idea.
More protection such as insect repellents, tick removers, and survival blankets can also be packed away with the kit if you need it. For a full list of extra kit you might need, check out the DofE Expedition Kit List.
For more serious injuries, always carry contact details of a hospital or rescue service for the area you’re in.
Finally, which kit to choose?
There are many kits on the market and most will be perfectly okay for your expedition. Lifesystems’ First Aid Kits are recommended by the DofE as they provide the optimum balance of components, quality and price. All Lifesystems kits are assembled here in the UK, which means they use the best components available and can also add in those extras other kits can’t (the wonderful duct tape for example).
The Lifesystems Trek First Aid Kit is ideal for personal use and the Lifesystems Camping First Aid Kit is ideal for group use. Don’t forget, you can adapt any First Aid Kit to your needs by adding specific items for any conditions, allergies, or medicinal needs you might have on your journey.
For even more tips and information about first aid, visit our advice page or speak to your DofE Leader.