Paddlers who spend enough time on the water see injuries. Cuts and scratches are frequent while, fortunately, more serious injuries are rare. However, even management of small injuries requires basic first aid materials. Cover the most common contingencies with this DIY first aid kit, perfectly sized and sourced to fit your canoe or kayak.
The Perfect DIY First Aid Kit for Paddlers
If it weren’t for Boy Scout leaders and open boaters (is there a difference?) you’d be hard pressed to find a first aid kit on the river. Off-the-shelf wilderness first aid kits are simply too cumbersome and get left behind. Designing a first aid kit for small group day trips in the river environment is a challenging task. However, so is managing even the smallest of injuries without basic first aid materials.
This kit contains most of the essential supplies for likely first aid scenarios on a single day canoe or kayak trip and reflects the unique challenge of first aid in an aquatic environment. Every item has its purpose. Store in a Nalgene water bottle, which is waterproof, durable and easily packed.
Steri-Strip Reinforced Skin Closures
$29.95 | Box of 20
6 strips per pack, each ½”×4” in size. Topical sutures used to close small lacerations.
Tegaderm Transparent Film Dressing
$9.99 | Box of 20
Waterproof, breathable dressing. Choice method for protecting wounds in wet environments. Pack two.
Tru-Absorb Gauze Sponges
$6.53 | Box of 50
4”×4” sterile gauze pads to cover wounds. Pack two.
Latex Examination Gloves
$17.93 | Box of 100
Heavy-duty, powder-free first aid gloves. Pack one pair in a film canister in your PFD pocket to keep them dry. Keep an extra pair in your kit.
Curity Sterile Abdominal Pad
$12.71 | Box of 36
5”×9” trauma pad for heavy bleeding. Packed on top for easy access.
Flexible Rolled Gauze
$7.99 | Box of 5
Stretch gauze roll to secure dressing. Each roll is 3” wide and 75” long.
Elastic Tensor Bandage
$12.95 | Box of 4
Includes two 3” bandages and two 4” bandages, each 15 feet in length. Good for compression and holding a pressure bandage.
Sustain Tritan BPA-Free Water Bottle
A one-liter bottle fits the whole first aid kit. Use cord to attach kit to boat. Tie to bottle-neck—the plastic loop on the cap always breaks.
Accident & Incident Report Book
$6.99 | 109 pages
Tear off a few sheets and take them with you. “If it is not recorded, it didn’t happen.” Don’t forget to bring a pencil.
Original Duct Tape
$7.95 | Single roll
For when it really has to stick. 1.88” wide by 60 yards long.
Medical Nurses Utility Scissors
These 5.5” EMT shears will cut almost anything (even pennies). Low profile handle so they fit in the first aid kit and high-quality stainless steel construction.
White Athletic Sports Tape
$12.99 | Box of 4
1.5” roll, to tape strains and sprains.
Benzoin Compound Tincture
$12.93 | 2 ounces
Used to prep skin for adhesive tapes. Essential in a wet environment to make things stick.
Triple Antibiotic Ointment
$13.99 | Box of 144
Offers limited antimicrobial action.
Antiseptic First Aid Wipes
$6.58 | Box of 100
Benzalkonium chloride or povidone iodine are a safe antiseptic to clean a wound. Not alcohol-based, 5”×7” in size.
First Responder CPR Face Shield
$15.77 | Box of 10
Many models available for rescue breathing. Pack in your PFD pocket for quick access.
Face & Body Mineral Sunscreen Stick
$8.79 | 0.64 ounces
Elastic Adhesive Bandage
$12.50 | Single roll
Cut-to-size bandages. Roll is 4” wide by 15 feet long.
Extra Heavy Moleskin
$10.95 | Single roll
Traditional staple of DIY first aid. Protects from getting blisters. Roll is 2” wide by 15 feet long.
Second Skin Dressing Kit
$14.99 | 8 dressings
Aqueous based burn dressing is great for cushioning nasty blisters. Adhesive knits offer pliable and water-resistant dressing thinner than moleskin, the best way to deal with paddling thumb blisters. Pack two sets of dressings.
Sterile Cotton Tipped Applicator
$16.99 | Box of 100
For eye injuries and wound cleaning.
Sterile Non-Stick Gauze Pads
$3.99 | Box of 20
2”×3” pads to cover wounds. Easier to remove than plain gauze. Pack two.
This article originally appeared in Fall 2004 issue of Rapid Magazineand Paddling Magazine Issue 65. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.
First Aid Tools | Photo by Roger Brown from Pexels