A first aid kit is an essential piece of survival gear, and keeping it stocked and accessible is a must. But what happens when your good intentions go wrong? Perhaps someone you are treating is allergic to something in your kit. Or what you are doing just isn’t helping. You may be doing more harm than good.
Here are five important items in a first aid kit to consider replacing:
1) Latex Gloves: Roughly 1 percent of Americans are allergic to latex to some degree. While 1 percent of the general public may not seem like much, that still equals about 3 million people. Switch out your latex gloves with safer alternatives like vinyl or Nitrile, and you’ll be offering much safer first aid.
2) Bandages: From simple Band-Aids to larger bandages, the same latex that causes trouble in gloves can be present in your bandages. If you’re not sure whether your bandages are latex-free, consider buying some that are labeled as such.
3) Betadine: Still used today in a number for medical uses, the povidone-iodine solution (brand name Betadine) can create an allergic reaction in those who are allergic to shellfish. It also stains the skin pretty bad, making subsequent medical inspections harder to read. Swap the Betadine for hydrogen peroxide.
4) Improvised Burn Gels: You may have heard that lard, petroleum jelly, or toothpaste makes a good cover for a burn wound because it seals off the air, but if a trip to a hospital for further treatment is required, they are going to have to brush the damaged skin with a wire brush to be able to assess it properly. Don’t slather anything on the burn, just cover it with a dry sterile dressing, like a non-stick gauze pad.
5) Suture Sets: Got a pretty hardcore medical bag with suture sets? That’s great if you know which ones to use and how to use them. The chromic gut absorbable sutures you picked up at the gun show aren’t the best choice, and some folks even have a reaction to chromic gut. Instead, choose nylon (i.e. Ethilon), Gore Tex, silk, fiberwire, polyester (i.e. Ethibond), or polypropylene (i.e. Prolene) sutures for normal skin closures. Use 3-0 on the trunk, 4-0 on the limbs and 5-0 on the face, hands, feet, or other thin skin.