First Aid We get lots of questions about first aid kits. When should you carry one? What should it include? The answer to the first question is any time you are in the woods, carry a first aid kit. The answer to the second question is a lot more complicated and you can find as many answers as people to ask. So here is one opinion, based on talking to lots of people and reading a few 'experts'. A good first aid kit should be able to deal with several main 'events': blisters, sprain, wound (breaks skin), pain, and bites. We have frequent incidents that confirm the need, and if everyone is prepared, the incidents do not become serious. We often end up pooling the resources of three or four kits to solve the problem. Blisters: Carry a few sheets of Moleskin; best there is to prevent blisters. Apply it as soon as you feel chafing. If you already have a serious blister, Dr Scholl's and Johnson & Johnson have products for "blister treatment" that are super band-aid "seal" for the blister. They enclose the damage already done and prevents further abrasion. Sprains: A roll of ace bandage is lightweight and easy to use. If you know you have a week knee, do like I do and carry a knee brace. Saved me a couple times. Same is true for ankle or whatever weak joint you have. Wounds/Antiseptic: The first problem with a wound is cleaning it off so you can bandage it. A small tube of antiseptic cream is good; or many of the main antiseptics come in individual dose sealed packets that are easy to carry. Individually sealed alcohol wipes come in handy. (Individual doses keep items like this from drying up). In many cases, particularly with serious bleeding, it is hard to apply any antiseptic and a small bottle of peroxide to pour on the wound is the only thing that works. Find very small plastic bottles and use them to carry such items. Wounds/Bandage: Most first aid kits seem to have a lot of 1/2" band-aids and 2 or 3 larger (2") band aids. Experience says that is the wrong ratio. The small ones are great for briar snags, scratches, etc., but not any serious cut. Generally, cuts encountered on the trail are substantial. It is important to first stop the bleeding and second make the bandage hold on dirty, wet skin. Dirty from hiking, wet from sweat and the peroxide you just poured over it. The 2" bandages are a lot more effective than the small ones. Gauze pads are even better, particularly when bleeding needs pressure to stop it. The best way to stop bleeding is a few 2 - 3" gauze pads, wet with antiseptic, and held down tightly with adhesive tape. A small roll of 1/2 tape takes up little space or weight. Pain: Pain can result from a variety of causes, but is not uncommon. I carry about a dozen Ibuprofen in a tiny pill bottle, because my most common pain is muscular, and ibuprofen seems to work best for me. Aspirin, Aleve, Tylenol, or any of the other pain relief types can also be carried -- whatever works best for you. Again, a small plastic bottle can be replenished regularly from a home supply. (click to continue)