First Aid and Medicines

This week’s emergency preparation newsletter focuses on your emergency first aid kit and medicines.

Unfortunately, in many households’ preparedness efforts, first aid and medications are often overlooked and definitely underfunded. It’s probably the least glamorous of all the preparedness categories!

While this is a very broad and technical topic, we will attempt to prioritize and break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces of information.

Prepare yourself to spring into action in an emergency by taking a:
  • CPR course
  • Basic first aid class
  • Disaster first aid course

Don’t just buy stuff!
  • Buy quality first aid supplies
  • Buy what you need
  • Build up from your basic first aid kit

Getting Started
  • Buy a first aid manual
  • Buy or build your own basic first aid kit
  • Practice, practice, practice

First Aid
First aid is the immediate medical care and treatment given to an individual after an injury. It is usually given at the location where the injury occurred. Be sure to provide “care” to the level that you have been trained.
Step 1:  Identify the problem and call for HELP. 
  • Call 911, which will activate your local emergency response system.
  • Stay on the phone; don’t hang up. The dispatchers can often help you navigate the emergency.
Step 2:  Ensure the scene is safe and secure.
  • Don’t become another injured person.
  • Remove the injured person from any dangers. Move them only if it is necessary.
Step 3:  Determine responsiveness of the injured/ill person.
  • Tap the patient; DO NOT shake them!
  • In a loud voice say, “Are you okay?”
Step 4:  Check for BLEEDING. If they are bleeding, stop it by:
  • Applying direct pressure on the injury
  • Elevating the injured limb
  • Applying pressure to a pressure point (arterial site)
  • Applying a pressure bandage. DO NOT remove blood-soaked bandages! Keep adding to them.
  • Applying a tourniquet if the bleeding is NOT controlled by the previous actions. A tourniquet should be used as a last resort.
Step 5:  Check for BREATHING.
  • If patient is NOT BREATHING, breathe for them at a rate of one (1) breath every 6
  • seconds (adult).
Step 6:  Treat for shock.
  • Lay the patient down, if you can; provide insulation between the patient and the ground or floor.
  • Keep the patient warm by covering them up with a blanket.

First Aid Kit (Basic)
Make sure you know where your first aid kit is located. Be consistent with its storage location and be familiar with its contents. Below are recommendations of some quantities and supplies you’ll want to have in your basic home/vehicle first aid kit. You can use a backpack or a marked plastic bin to store your supplies.
  • First aid manual
  • 1 headlamp with batteries (a must!)
  • 5 of each size sterile dressings: 2”x2”, 4”x4”, 6”x9”
  • 2 Israeli pressure bandages (4” width)
  • 2 of each width sterile gauze: 2” and 3” widths
  • 4 triangular bandages
  • 5 pairs medical gloves (nitrile)
  • 1 antibiotic cream (Neosporin)
  • 1 box or 1 bottle antiseptic wipes
  • 3 chemical cold packs
  • 1 CPR rescue breathing mask
  • 4 vomit (emesis) bags
  • 1 box Bandaids (assorted sizes)
  • 1 set trauma shears
  • 1 thermometer
  • 1-2 bottles pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil)
  • 1 container antihistamine (e.g., diphenhydramine, aka Benadryl)
  • 1 pair tweezers
  • 1 set nail clippers
  • pen and notepad
  • 2 thermal blankets
  • 1 roll 1” medical tape
  • 1 roll 2” medical tape
The reality is that first aid supplies and medical knowledge should be in your top three most important preparedness categories behind water, food, and medicines. The first aid supplies you have on hand and the medical knowledge you possess at the time of a disaster may determine whether you can save a life or not—and don’t disregard the fact that it could be your own life you save or that of a loved one!

Prescriptions: Prepare Your Medicine Cabinet for an Emergency
Do you—or does someone in your household—depend on daily medications? A large-scale natural disaster emergency could make it difficult to find an open pharmacy, let alone get a prescription filled. The same could be true in an advanced supply chain shortage. You and your family may need to rely on a prepared emergency supply.
  • Keep at least a seven to 10-day supply of prescription medications, and preferably a 30-day supply. Find out if laws in your state permit pharmacists to dispense a 30-day refill of medications in an emergency, or save a few tablets from each batch when you get a prescription refill each month, and accumulate a reserve slowly over time.
  • Keep an up-to-date list of all prescription medications of all family members, including dosage amounts and the names of their generic equivalents, your medical supply needs, and known allergies.
  • Create a supply of nonprescription medications, including pain and fever relievers, diuretics, antihistamines, decongestants, cough and cold/flu medicines, and antidiarrheal medications.
  • Don’t let the medications in your emergency supply kit expire. Remove, use, and replace any food and water, medications, and supplies as they expire (although they are generally good for a certain amount of time past the “best by” date).
Encouragement from Scripture
Remember the story of the Good Samaritan, who had both the heart AND the resources to assist a wounded man when he happened upon him? May we be in that same position to be a blessing if and when called upon in an emergency!

Luke 10: 33-34
“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.”


HF Preparedness Leadership Team

Action Steps:
I am prepared to render at least a basic level of first aid in the case of an emergency.
I have an adequately stocked first aid kit (based on the information above) and know where it is kept in my home at all times.
Everyone in my household who requires a regular prescription has at least a 30-day supply on hand.
We have an up-to-date list of all prescriptions of all family members, easily accessible.
We have a ready supply on hand of over-the-counter medications that may be needed to address illness in our household in the case of an emergency or supply chain disruption.

In the News:

First Aid Saves Lives
Empty cold medication shelves – RiteAid in Gig Harbor, WA 11/30/22
Empty cold medication shelves – RiteAid in Gig Harbor, WA 11/30/22
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