Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jace's Kit Loadout V: The Medkit

Perhaps the most critical item in anyone’s travel loadout, at least if you want to stay healthy enough to enjoy your travels, will be your first aid kit.

After 9 months travelling our first aid kit is a combination of stuff we have thankfully never needed (and hopefully never will) and stuff we frequently replenish. I call this the ‘medkit’ rather than a ‘first aid’ kit because when you are on the road your first aid kit doubles as the entire medicine cabinet in your bathroom, so you use it not only to apply first aid in emergency situations but also to treat lots of everyday ailments. As a result, you use it much more frequently and for a wider range of applications than the first aid kit you might have in your car or in your home.

As always when you are travelling, volume, weight and durability are important considerations. A fully stocked medkit is a bulky thing, and if you are as paranoid as we are and take lots of drugs with you, you need to take small quantities of lots of different things and replenish some of them frequently. In the table below I’ve listed the items we carry, the containers we carry them in, and what they are used for. All the items listed in the table fit into a pouch of approximately 2 litres in volume.

When we purchase items in blister packs we often transfer them into small plastic bottles (transparent ones are best) for better durability as blister packs burst open easily and pills get lost. If you are going to do things this way you must be very careful to properly label your bottles. A good way to label bottles is to cut off the name of the tablets from the cardboard packet with your scissors and pop it in the bottle. A bad way to label bottles is to write on them in permanent ink, only to discover later that the ink wasn’t as permanent as you thought it would be, and now you have a whole lot of pills and you can’t remember what they are for.

Clear plastic pills bottles like this Nalgene one are good. If you have more types of pills than bottles you can put two types in one bottle as I have done here, just be sure to write clear descriptions of which pill is which on the backs of the labels and, obviously, don't put two different pills that appear identical in the same bottle.

Another word of advice: try to avoid those metal tubes, like the ones Savlon cream comes in. They puncture easily and you end up with a mess when you need one least. Creams like sunscreen and insect repellent which are sometimes difficult to find in screwtop bottles need to be put into ziplock bags when not in use in case the fliptop lid comes off in your pack.

Below is a list of the current contents of our medkit. If you are reading this and you can think of anything else you think is important to have in a travel medkit be sure to leave us a post with your ideas.

‘Bactroban’ (mupirocin) ointment
15g tube
Treatment of ‘golden staph’ skin infection
400mg ‘Noroxin’ Norfloxacin tablets
6 tablets in blister pack
Antibiotic for gastrointestinal or urinary tract infection
500mg ‘Keflex’ Cephalexin capsules
20 tablets in blister pack
Antibiotic for respiratory tract infections
100mg ‘Vibra-tabs’ Doxycycline tablets
Plastic bottle, 28 tablets
Malaria prevention
Tea Tree Oil
25ml glass bottle
Disinfectant, antiseptic, smells nice
250mg activated charcoal tablets
Plastic bottle, 60 tablets
Prevents flatulence
500mg paracetamol tablets
Plastic bottle, 30 tablets
200mg ibuprofen tablets
Plastic bottle, 30 tablets
500mg paracetamol ‘Lemsip’ sachets
A few sachets
Painkiller, soothes sore throat, tastes nice, comforting
2mg Imodium (Loperamide Hydrochloride)
Plastic bottle, up to 100 tablets (they are tiny)
Anti diarrheal
‘Caladryl Clear’ lotion
Plastic bottle, 200ml
Topical analgesic- to stop mozzie bites itching
‘Tineafax’ powder
Plastic bottle, 60g
Clears Tinea
‘Gastrolyte’ tablets
Plastic tube of 10 effervescent tablets
Glucose and electrolytes for rapid rehydration
‘Rennie’ Antacid tablets
Plastic bottle, 30 tablets
Indigestion or ‘heartburn’
‘Fess Frequent Flyer’ Nasal spray
200ml nasal spray bottle
Prevents nasal congestion
‘Gingisona L’ lidocaine solution
Glass bottle, 30ml
Local anaesthetic solution- for mouth ulcers
‘Claratyne’ Antihistamine tablets
Plastic bottle, 20 tablets
Hayfever relief
Blistex lip conditioner
A few plastic ‘lipstick’ applicator tubes
Prevents windburn on lips
Surgical gloves
2 pairs, stored in old film canisters
Barrier to infection when blood is present
‘Reclens’ saline solution
3 ampoules
Eye irrigation
‘Leukoplast’ sports tape
1 roll of tape
Strapping feet to prevent blisters before hiking
Thermal blanket
Folded in ziplock bag
Treatment for shock- keeps patient warm
Triangular bandage
Sterile packaging
Slinging, bandaging, splinting
Wound dressing
Sterile packaging
For dressing wounds!
Band aids/ Elastoplast squares and strips
About a dozen standard strips and a dozen larger squares
Strips for small cuts and nicks, larger squares for abrasions
Medium weight crepe bandage
Sterile packaging
Principally for holding wound pads in place
Heavy weight bandage
Principally for compression of strains and sprains
For cutting
For tweezing
Plastic tube in ziplock bag
Prevents sunburn
Insect repellent
Plastic tube in ziplock bag
Repels insects!

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