While first aid may not seem exactly in the purview of the humble homesteader, reality (and mother nature) oftentimes force us to tackle situations and scenarios far outside our comfort zones. As a result, its oftentimes a good idea to learn some basic first aid principles, in case you run into trouble around the farm. After all, many of us like to live a decent trek from society, and that means help could be a long drive away.
Stocking the Kit
Step one, of course, is to build a first-aid kit capable of dealing with most incidents you may encounter around the homestead. There is nothing worse than knowing exactly how to fix a wound, but not being able to locate the implements needed in a timely manner. Top on the list is going to be gauze and adhesive tape. There is almost no small laceration out there you cannot fix with a combination of these two versatile materials. Next up would be standard Band Aids, and different types of bandages, for the really tiny stuff.
Next you need to think sterilization. Alcohol, hand sanitizer, and an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin are stalwarts of my first aid bundle. In case the wound needs to be soothed, also consider packing along some calamine lotion, or my personal favorite, Calendula ointment. I have found this latter option quite effective over the years. Aloe Vera and a wound wash, generally saline based, would be my final two additions to this segment of this list (though there are certainly more helpful creams and ointments out there, so do not let me dissuade you from including a personal favorite, simply because it didn’t make my list). Some latex gloves also help contribute to a sterile wound environment, and should be included.
Aches and Allergies
Moving down there severity line should come some pain relievers. While not absolutely necessary (and make sure you know the side effects; you don’t want to use something that thins the blood when trying to staunch a bleed), they can still come in handy, particularly when caring for yourself for a potentially long period of time. They will also tend to be the most-used part of your kit, as headaches and pulled muscles tend to occur a lot more than serious lacerations. Standard acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin are your best bets, but I also like throwing in some Excedrin, for that occasional migraine. Any allergy medication you may need should also be included here.
Finally, scissors and tweezers are essential. A needle and thread are a good idea as well, as is a tourniquet. HOWEVER. It is very important to note that if you are going to include the latter two items in your kit, it is important you familiarize yourself beforehand with how to stitch a wound and apply a tourniquet. I am not saying you have to stitch as well as a doctor, and if possible you should ALWAYS seek medical attention for an injury so severe it requires one or both of these, however if you need care right this instant, these are good skills to possess.
The second worse thing to not knowing where to find the supplies you need, is knowing exactly where to find it, but having it completely inaccessible. Your best bet it to make 3-4 First Aid kits: one in a central location in your home, one in your barn or utility shed, one in your car, and one in whatever sort of offroad contraption you use to traverse your homestead, whether that’s a Kubota or a Side-by-Side. If you have small children, make sure these are kept out of their reach, and while the kits should be easy to open in a pinch, make sure they are not so easy to open that contents falls out unexpectedly. Despite this precaution, still check all your kits once a year to see if anything is missing, and to resupply anything that might be past its expiration date. I’ve found its a good idea to actively set a date in your calendar each year to take care of this, otherwise it becomes a very hard thing to remember, and years often go by with no check, as it always seems like you “just checked it a month or so ago.”
Think I left anything out? Let me know in the comments, and tune in next week for some basic tips on how to use what we’ve just put in our first-aid packs.
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”