Ask any RV owner if they have a first aid kit and most will say, yes. The issue is not having a kit but the contents of the kit, as many are severely lacking in proper supplies and many have past their expiration dates.
I am an advocate of homemade kits as long as they contain the necessities. You don't have to spend a lot of money and I can help you put together a good basic kit for a fraction of the cost of the prepackaged over-the-counter (OTC) variety*.
*Normally a homemade kit is going to be cheaper than a prepackaged kit, but you can save additional money if you use coupons and purchase the individual contents on sale.
The Basic Kit
- Cleansing Agent
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Assorted sized bandages, gauze, and tape
- Ace bandage
- Finger splint
- Pair of pointed head tweezers
- OTC antibacterial ointment, hydrocortisone, calamine lotion, petroleum jelly
- OTC pain and fever reducer, cough medicine, antihistamines
I recommend a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a small container of liquid soap. All wounds should be cleansed first with plain soap and water. I don't recommend bar soap, if it has been used by everyone, as it harbors a lot of germs, use liquid soap instead.
There is a debate among health professionals regarding the appropriateness of hydrogen peroxide as a wound cleanser. Hydrogen peroxide can be damaging to the skin and is not recommended at full strength. For occasional use and when prepared as a half strength solution it should be fine*.
Directions for Use:
- In a bowl mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 1 part water.
- Insert the finger or foot for example into the solution. For larger areas or for severe injuries contact 911 or visit the nearest Emergency Room.
- The solution will bubble and fizz when it comes in contact with the wound.
- Don't soak for more than a few minutes.
- Gentle dry the area and place a clean bandage.
*This is a general guideline and because of individual differences consults a doctor before adding it to your first aid kit.
Rubbing alcohol is good for a variety of things, for example, it is faster at bringing down a fever than plain water. Simply rub it all over the skin, and as it evaporates it brings down the temperature of the skin. It can also be used to relieve muscle aches by simply rubbing it into the sore muscles.
Assorted Sized bandages
Cuts come in all sizes so I recommend bandages in a variety of sizes. No need to go overboard, a small box of multi-sized bandages, plus a couple of elbow and knee pads should be fine. Also have a couple of different sizes of gauze, which can be used to either cleanse the area or as a bandage (it allows air to circulate). Also purchase some paper tape to secure the gauze.
I recommend one for the wrist and one for the ankle.
A sprained or broken finger can't be put in a cast so a finger splint is a good temporary measure to use when a finger is injured. It will stabilize the area until you can get to a doctor.
Pair of Tweezers
Pointed head tweezers are great for pulling out splinters and ticks for example.
There are a variety on the market and a personal choice, however don't travel with a mercury thermometer as they break easily.
There are a few key ointments to keep in the kit.
- Antibacterial ointment to prevent infection in small cuts.
- Hydrocortisone is a great anti-itch reliever for minor skin irritations and bug bites.
- Some individuals prefer Calamine lotion for insect bites and poison ivy.
- Petroleum jelly as a skin protectant, for dry lips and skin. First wet the area and then apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to keep the moisture in.
- OTC pain and fever reducer such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Cough medicine and sore throat lozenges.
- Antihistamines for allergy relief.
Place all the supplies in a plastic container with a handle, or a small backpack, and store in a cool and dry place. It is also important to check the expiration dates on your OTC products as they become less effective after expiration.
In conclusion, a first aid kit is a critical piece of equipment for any camper, trailer, or RV, and a good idea to keep in the trunk of your car.
Disclaimer:Dr. Mundorff is a Board Certified Naturopath, and not a medical doctor. The information in this column is for educational purposes only and should not be used to self-diagnose and treat diseases. Naturopathy is a complementary practice to health care and should be used in conjunction with a competent health care practitioner. Many herbal and homeopathic remedies can actually be contraindicated in many health conditions, with certain prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications. Please consult your physician before starting any alternative modalities.