Friday, September 13, 2013

Proper Stocking of Your Home Emergency Medical Kit Used in Disasters

This is clean, non-sterile gauze.   Use sterile gauze directly on the wound, and clean non-sterile added on top.

    Most families don't need a first responder quality kit with a surgical kit and sterile sutures.  If you are in the business, and you're a registered nurse, an EMT, a physician's assistant who works in surgery or a nurse practitioner with direct surgical experience then you can make a case for having one.  There is, I suppose, always the possibility that people in the profession would know someone who is qualified and experienced who in an absolute emergency could do something for you.   In general, an over-the-top kit is a waste of your money.  Most really sharp trauma surgeons can improvise in the field better than you can imagine anyway even without such a kit.
               The most important things to have in your first aid kit is 4x4 gauze and lots of it.  Because this is an expense, I buy both sterile gauze to place directly on wounds, and clean, non-sterile gauze (which is generally intended to go through an autoclave), but is sufficiently clean to go on top of a sterile gauze pad on a wound. If you have a real injury, the type that needs lots of gauze to contain bleeding or one that requires dressing changes a couple of times a day for a week or two, then you are going to go through the amount of gauze most families stock in the course of a day or two.  I recommend at least five packages of 4x4 sized gauze for each family member.   Now, on to 2x2 gauze. These are helpful not only for smaller wounds, ear dressings, but I use these instead of stocking the more expensive eye pads. I also recommend five packages of these for each family member. Store them in a clean freezer bag in a plastic container in order to keep them clean, dry and the outer packaging dust free.
             Most people have a variety of tapes to secure dressings, and I don't care what type you like, as long as you have some that works for you. (There is paper tape, micropore which is somewhat hypoallergenic, and a number of varieties. You want some that won't tear up skin if you must tape to skin, and you should have some which allows you to tape a roller gauze bandage to itself for added security. )     I do want you to consider investing in gauze roller bandages in addition to tape, to secure wounds though.

gauze roller bandage is useful in securing gauze.  It comes in sterile and clean varieties. Many times the clean variety is just fine because it's not touching the wound directly.

             I think you should have four packages of six gauze roller bandages for each family member.  Fortunately, this is cheap.

               In your kit at home, you should have several bottles of hydrogen peroxide and some bottles of isopropyl alcohol.  I don't much care about the percentage of the alcohol. Isopropyl  alcohol of any percentage poured on a sewing needle intended for splinter removal, for example, will kill the pathogens, and this is what you are shooting for.

        Gauze, tape, roller gauze and the appropriate medical fluids are the essential starting points, yet almost no one stocks enough of these things at home.

         If you want information on my recommendations for the full kit (which should be assembled only after the items listed here)  I listed these on a prior post:

            The largest deficiency I see in home medical kits is an insufficient amount of gauze.   EMTs are able to restock virtually every time they deliver a patient to a hospital.  In a genuine state or national emergency, restocking will not be immediately possible.  I will provide some internet sources for large packages of these items, at the bottom of this post.

                 Now that I have mentioned this, I would like to mention a medical device which is nice to have.   They are not essential when amassing a kit for the first time, but they are refinements that could be helpful depending upon what you encounter.  Its most obvious use is on limbs but it can be used on the head or trunk also.

                  The Israeli Battle Dressing, is often just called an Israeli Dressing. 

Product Features:
•       Internationally patented, FDA approved modular bandage
•       Quick, easy and convenient for one-handed or self-application
•       Sterile, non-adherent pad effectively applies direct pressure to any site
•       Additional tourniquet application to further constrict blood-flow
•       Vacuum-sealed packaging; X-Ray compatible

- See more at:
  The main features of this dressing is that it is an FDA approved device which is designed to be either a pressure dressing or to be used as a modified tourniquet designed for pre-hospital use of traumatic injuries.  It IS possible to self apply with one hand, with advance practice.  (I keep an open one just for teaching purposes.)  The limb can be x-rayed with the dressing remaining intact.

        Here's where you can get some:

This is additional information on the Israeli Dressing should you wish more detail or to see a more comprehensive set of directions:

For those who prefer pictures:
( These directions came from: )

Online Sources of Gauze, Gauze Roller Bandages, and First Aid Supplies:


Sunnybrook Farm said...

My family has used turpentine for generations to dress wounds. It is a myth that it burns, it is s soothing liquid that kills germs and coats the wound especially if you use a bandage as well but it will work without one. Every medical person that I tell this to acts like I am some idiot but it really does work and could be used if store bought supplies are running out.

JaneofVirginia said...

Turpentine certainly will work in terms of preventing infection in superficial wounds as it's a concentrated pine resin. In fact, in Latvia in the present day, a turpentine ointment is sold is pharmacies for superficial cuts. However, turpentine sold in paint and hardware stores is implicated in causing skin, lung, liver and kidney problems, as it is readily absorbed and detoxified by the liver and then excreted by the kidneys. In some people it can cause pretty serious skin irritation also. I use Apinol (which is a medically prepared pine resin) for most superficial cuts because it does the same thing without the potential hazards of turpentine, which is also flammable. Turpentine fell out of use because there were a few poisonings of young children when the drop on a cottonball technique was in its heyday. I don't think you met with funny looks from medical people because it wouldn't work, but because they had concerns for what else it might be doing. I actually don't have turpentine at home anymore, but I remember as a child we certainly did as most paints and varnishes needed it for clean up !

Harry Flashman said...

For reasons I don't completely understand, CVS pharmacy in our town periodically dumps all their gauze packages into a big bin and sells them for practically nothing. Same with cotton. I usually buy some when I see that to keep us up to speed.

JaneofVirginia said...

Perhaps they have item rotation guidelines and they aren't selling enough. I haven't noticed that at the CVS I go to sometimes. In any case, that's great. It keeps you supplied under budget which is always a good thing !

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Thanks, I need to look for some of the other stuff, we used to get the resin off of trees but I haven't done that in awhile.

JaneofVirginia said...

I really like the Apinol. A lot of people have bacteria that is normal flora to them now, which is resistant to neosporin. Apinol makes it very difficult for bacteria, viruses or yeasts to replicate and cause infection. My kids think it smells like pine sol though. I don't mind because the pine smell helps to repel insects including ticks and horseflies.

lotta joy said...

I think you should have readers lined up around the block, or that your blog should be required reading.

I want to be with you when 'something evil this way comes'.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Lotta Joy. Unfortunately, I am around a lot when "something evil this way comes" and I have had to use some of these things while outside the hospital !

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this and sharing your tips. It helps me to know that others feel the same way I do at times. I spend a lot of to e feeling really guilty about hating my injections- I won't anymore. Medical Waste Disposal Virginia Beach Va

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you for posting, Natalie.