Today we’re going to get into the down and dirty of an EDC (Every Day Carry) first-aid kit.
First, let’s take a quick look at the “criteria” of an EDC FAK:
- Compact (must be able to fit in a normal-sized pants pocket)
- Lightweight (less than 4 oz.)
- Capable of treating common injuries/illnesses (minor cuts and scrapes, minor burns, headaches, etc.)
- Capable of treating major injuries/illnesses (bleeding, allergic reactions, etc.)
- Rugged (must have some level of water-resistance)
Now, with those requirements in mind, let’s dive into the ingredients that will make up this powerful (but small!) first-aid kit.
Why these 3? Diphenhydramine (one well-known brand name being Benadryl) is used to treat allergic reactions. If you have an allergic reaction to something and have no way to treat it, things can get ugly very quickly. Note, this is NOT a substitute for an EpiPen. If you are prescribed an EpiPen, carry it! If you are not prescribed an EpiPen and have no known allergies, diphenhydramine is going to be your best emergency allergy treatment drug. Ibuprofen is included in this kit for its pain-relieving capability. It can also be used to help reduce a fever. Aspirin is similar to Ibuprofen in it’s function. However, it also thins out your platelets which are the cells that can cause blood clots. Often, aspirin is used to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. For further information, check out this article about the differences between Ibuprofen and Aspirin.
In the boo-boo section of your EDC first-aid kit, band-aids are going to be your main piece of equipment. 2 should be plenty as long as you remember to re-stock your kit if you use them! I like to carry a couple small packets of triple antibiotic ointment in my EDC first-aid kit as well. Another item that I recommend putting in your kit is a small packet of burn cream (WaterJel and Pac-Kit are both good choices as far as brand). Burns can be very painful, and having even a small amount of burn cream can ease the pain and make burns easier to deal with.
Next up is the trauma section of your EDC first-aid kit. Since we’re pretty restricted by size and weight limits, you won’t be able to carry the ideal trauma supplies for major injuries. That being said, you can still provide yourself with some key gear that will help you treat major injuries. In a small kit like this, there are 2 pieces of gear that I recommend packing: duct tape, and a triangle bandage. With these 2 items, you can dress some pretty good sized wounds effectively, if you know what you’re doing (training, training, training!). I like to have about 2 ft. of duct tape folded and wrapped around itself in my EDC first-aid kit. It takes up a very small amount of space when packed like this. Besides being used to control bleeding, it is possible to use a triangle bandage to wrap sprained/strained joints, help immobilize an injured limb, or act as a tourniquet in extreme situations. If you need your kit to have the slimmest profile possible, you could ditch the triangle bandage and just carry duct tape. However, this may mean that you’ll have to think outside the box if you have to deal with a major injury. For example, using a t-shirt as improvised gauze and secure it to a wound with the duct tape. Your level of training and knowledge will come into play here, as you may be comfortable carrying less equipment if you’re confident in your ability to improvise with sub-optimal gear. Generally, I don’t carry a triangle bandage in my kit simply because I want my kit to be completely unobtrusive in either my front or back pockets. Without the triangle bandage, it is slimmer than my cell phone and smaller overall than my wallet! A kit this small is also easy to carry in a suit jacket pocket if you need to dress sharp. Remember, the best first-aid kit is the one you have on you!
As far as your carry options for an EDC first-aid kit, my suggestion is to pack it all in a small Ziploc-type bag. This will keep the contents dry in everyday situations. Obviously, this may not be waterproof or rugged enough for scuba diving, but be honest, you probably don’t do that every day!
To recap, here’s a list of what you should have in an EDC first-aid kit:
- Triple antibiotic ointment
- Burn cream
- Duct tape
- Triangle bandage
Have any suggestions/improvements/questions regarding an EDC first-aid kit? Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter! Don’t forget to share this post on your social networks!