The Most Important Item In Your First Aid Kit

The Most Important Item In Your First Aid Kit

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present an article on The Most Important Item In Your First Aid Kit by guest author, Frank Nielson.

In the event of an injury, natural disaster or more serious type emergency one of the basic staples of your gear will be your first aid kit. With such a wide variety of choices available from small first aid pouches for your car to expedition sized kits the size of backpacks deciding on the best first aid kit can be overwhelming.  In too many cases, the decision defaults to two just two factors, the size of the first aid kit and the price of the first aid kit.  Don’t forget that the most important tool in your first aid kit is the one between your ears along with the skills you impart to your body through training and practice.

Health PreparednessBefore you dismiss this article and think “I’ve already taken care of that” let me ask you this. Have you invested in developing the cognitive tools you need to put your first aid kit to use?  I’m speaking of the training and mental preparation you’ll need to know what tools, techniques and procedures to use…and the willingness to do so. Hopefully, by this article’s end you will agree that the most important tool in your first aid kit is knowledge.

Nearly any over the counter first aid kit will work fine for minor non-life threatening injuries. But should you get caught up in an extended disaster, experienced, trained medical personnel may be unavailable or several days away. If you ever find yourself in such a position, you will thank yourself for following the sage advice “plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

This article is not intended to lead you by the hand with every bandage and pill you should include in your first aid kit. There are plenty of sites for that. My intention is to get you to think seriously about your personal abilities as they relate to effectively using your first aid kit and make a plan to maintain and improve your capabilities. Developing your first aid knowledge and skills is important because these ‘tools’ can never be taken away from you and make every other bandage, medication and first aid gadget you have more useful.

Even the Federal government has stressed the importance of developing the capability of being prepared to take care of ourselves for several days in the event of a disaster. Even for a small, local disaster it would take days for an organized relief effort to get off the ground and weeks or months before some semblance of normalcy returns. In the event of a regional disaster expect to be on your own for weeks and normalcy might be years away if you survive a Hurricane Andrew or Katrina size event.  National level disasters frequently result in ‘lost decades,’ what would happen in the event of a worldwide disaster.  How long could you fend for yourself medically in such an unfamiliar and chaotic environment with your current first aid/medical skill and experience level?

The military stresses the importance of training and preparation. They know from experience that in a stressful situation human nature frequently fails to rise to the occasion. Instead, when under stress we are most likely to default to our level of training. That frame of mind is important to consider now as we might find ourselves faced with a life threatening medical emergency later. You might have the best emergency kit on the market, but without the proper training and the confidence that comes with that training, your kit will be useless.

Unless you take the time to practice with your kit and learn first aid skills you’ll get the same benefit from your kit as an untrained person would from a handgun that he brought home from the store and immediately stored away without ever practicing with it.  Without the proper training, even in the event of a home invasion he likely wouldn’t be able to effectively retrieve, operate and aim the weapon.

This same ‘practice makes perfect’ mentality should be applied to your first aid skills. To begin with, become familiar with basic first aid and CPR.  You can generally find good, affordable training through your local Red Cross, your school district’s continuing education program, a University Extension Office or your fire protection district/department.  These courses are generally inexpensive and will also be well worth your time because of the knowledge and confidence you gain.

If you’re ready for more advanced training you can receive that either by becoming a volunteer fireman or attending one of the many seminar schools that have sprung up over the last decade in response to the War on Terror and the growing interest in preparedness.

You can also take advantage of online resources like youTube, this website and others like it but nothing beats the hands-on learning you’ll receive from an instructor led course.

Being prepared for a first aid or medical emergency requires more than just accumulating the tools of the trade.  True preparedness means having the knowledge, skills and confidence to use those tools.

Frank Nielson is a retired medical researcher who now spends his days writing. Through this writing, he is keen on helping consumers find the best medical supplies at an affordable price.

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