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Safety and your medical kit - what should you take?

'Getting help for an injured crew mate will probably take more than 30 minutes, even during an afternoon sail'    .

The first time I did a first-aid course was just before I went for a three week sail, across the Pacific. The information was great, but I couldn't help thinking all the way through the course, 'But there will be no emergency number to call - I need to know what to do for a week, not for the first 30 minutes before the paramedic gets there.

Certainly 30 minutes of First Aid Skills is better than no skills at all. Boaters that are in more remote areas should have higher skills and a more complete First Aid Kit. What do I mean by 30 minutes of skill? The ability to treat and stabilize a person for at least 30 minutes that has been injured. Remember if you are home and medical help is needed a call to emergency could have professional help at your door in 5 to 10 minutes.

On the water you are a lot farther from help, even if you are just out for an afternoon sail. What might be suitable for an afternoon's cruising is not going to be suitable for a round the world cruise. However, you have to start somewhere, so here's a medical kit, which is just that, somewhere to start.

Before we list the contents, let's think about what might be needed:

Conditions on a boat can be rough with high humidity and wet interiors in many areas. Any First Aid Kit should protect the supplies from water and moisture. Many commercially sold 'marine' First Aid Kits are not sealed well but some manufactures are now putting supplies in plastic bags. A First Aid Kit can also but put in a Pelican Box or other water proof boxes.

The first kit I put on a boat was 'marine' but all the supplies became waterlogged from sitting in the high humidity of a boat moored in the water.

There are many fine First Aid Kits sold for marine use. I have a medium sized pre-packaged First Aid Kit that I have on my boat in addition to the Small Boat First Aid Kit.

I have put together two quite distinct kits.

The first one is for small injuries on my boat when day sailing. The second kit is one that I carry in my sailing bag when I sail on other peoples' boats. A printed list of supplies is also in each kit to let a user know what is available without emptying the whole kit or looking for something that is not present.

The pocket in my sailing bag that has the First Aid Kit is marked with a red cross and the words 'First Aid.'

Some ancillary points:
1. Remember to check the First Aid Kit once a year for expired items. Medications and Antiseptic items have expiration dates.

2. You should also have a small flashlight either in the kit or close by. There are some small LED lights that are as small as a quarter in diameter.

3. There are literally hundreds of different approaches to your medical kit, this is just mine.

First Aid Kit for the boat:

Antiseptic / Cleaners
4 Alcohol Gel Hand Wipes
4 Benzalkonium Chloride Antiseptic Towelette
4 Providone-Iodine U.S.P. Prep Pad

Antibiotic / Wound Treatment
4 Triple Antibiotic Ointment
4 Burn Jel

Medications
3 Advil / ( Ibuprofen ) ( 200 mg x 2 Tablets )
3 Tylenol / ( Acetaminophen ) ( 500 mg x 2 Tablets )
3 Aspirin ( 325 mg x 2 Tablets )
2 Histaprin ( Antihistamine )
x Motion Sickness (3 tablets each of 2 different over the counter medications)

Miscellaneous
1 Adventure Medical Wound Closure Kit
Barrier Gloves ( Nitrile preferred (non-allergenic / non-latex) )
1 Tweezers
1 Scissors

Bandages / Dressings
2 1 3/4 x 4 Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
5 1'- x 3' Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
10 3/4'- x 3' Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
10 5/8'- x 3' Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages

2 Flexible Fabric Knuckle Bandages
2 Flexible Fabric Large Fingertip Bandages
6 Butterfly Closures ( Medium )

2 2' x 2' Gauze Pads
2 2' x 3' Adhesive Telfa Bandages
2 2' x 3' Island Bandages

1 2' x 5 yd Conform Bandage Roll
1 1/2 x Adhesive Tape
1 1' x 10 yd Flexible Clear Tape

Portable First Aid Kit for my sailing bag:

Antiseptic / Cleaners
6 Alcohol Gel Hand Wipes
6 Benzalkonium Chloride Antiseptic Towelette
6 Providone-Iodine U.S.P. Prep Pad

Antibiotic / Wound Treatment
6 Triple Antibiotic Ointment
4 Burn Jel

Medications
3 Advil / ( Ibuprofen ) ( 200 mg x 2 Tablets )
3 Tylenol / ( Acetaminophen ) ( 500 mg x 2 Tablets )
3 Aspirin ( 325 mg x 2 Tablets )
2 Histaprin ( Antihistamine )
x Motion Sickness (3 tablets each of 2 different over the counter medications)

Miscellaneous
1 Adventure Medical Wound Closure Kit
2 Pair Barrier Gloves ( Nitrile preferred (non-allergenic / non-latex) )
1 Tweezers
1 Scissors

Bandages / Dressings
2 1 3/4 x 4 Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
5 1'- x 3' Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
8 3/4'- x 3' Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
6 5/8'- x 3' Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages

2 Flexible Gauze 1 x 1 1/2 ( 2 x 3 Adhesive )
2 Flexible Fabric Knuckle Bandages
2 Flexible Fabric Large Fingertip Bandages
4 Butterfly Closures ( Large )
6 Butterfly Closures ( Medium )

2 2' x 2' Sterile Gauze Pad
2 3' x 3' Sterile Gauze Pad
2 4' x 4' Sterile Gauze Pad
1 5' x 9'Sterile Large Wound Dressing
1 4' Sterile Gauze Bandage with Clips
( 4' x 4 yd stretched w/ fastening clips )

1 1/2 x Adhesive Tape
1 1' x 10 yd Flexible Clear Tape

This is somewhere to start, but what your own kit will finally look like will depend on where and how you sail, and the time you plan to be away. Happy sailing!


by Des Ryan

  

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1:48 AM Tue 29 Jan 2013GMT


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