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Overland First Aid Safety Kit Essentials

photo by LifestyleVisuals via iStock

As you drive further and further away from civilization, you need to become self-reliant since you can find yourself in a situation where emergency services are hours away from your location.

Consequently, you need a proper overland first aid kit that can provide thorough medical care for a long time while waiting for the EMS to arrive. This kit will have to go past your usual first-aid kit for minor cuts and blisters and be suitable for trauma situations, including broken bones and life-threatening injuries. 

Get Trained in First Aid

Person Practicing CPR

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As you drive further and further away from civilization, you need to become self-reliant since you can find yourself in a situation where emergency services are hours away from your location.

Consequently, you need a proper overland first aid kit that can provide thorough medical care for a long time while waiting for the EMS to arrive. This kit will have to go past your usual first-aid kit for minor cuts and blisters and be suitable for trauma situations, including broken bones and life-threatening injuries. 

The Optimal Casing and Location for Your Overland First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

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The optimal location of your overland first aid kit is essential because you can’t expect everyone to be as well prepared as you. It’s important to clearly show others where your first aid kit is located in your vehicle; you can mark it with unique decals on the outside window closest to your gear. This will be useful if you are not around when a life-threatening situation occurs. 

Please make sure the container itself, whether a hard case or a rolled bag, is immediately recognizable as the overland medical kit someone would look for and snagged in an instant. 

There are several types of casings; a hardshell casing would provide high-impact safety for the contents if the case is dropped or knocked by unsecured items in your truck if you were to angle too much or tumble altogether.

For more advanced and, therefore, larger overland medical kits — especially for wilderness first responders — a canvas cover rolled bag would provide the bonus of immediately laying out all medical supplies in labeled compartments where you can immediately see whatever you need to use. 

Emergency Reading Material

person reading in a camp

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There is a wide range of books available that provide step-by-step guides to walk you through the process of treating an injury. You may have medical training or wilderness first responder training; however, having a step-by-step guide available in case you forgot something would take away a bulk of the stress of an emergency situation. 

First aid books can come in handy if you get stuck out in the wilderness for long periods. Remember, a guide on what you can safely eat could save you from ending up in a whole different kind of life-threatening situation. Also, distinguishing safe and toxic mushrooms, berries, and plants can be very tricky without a side-by-side picture comparison. 

Overland First Aid Kit Essentials

person administering First Aid

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While your specific first aid kit might vary from someone else, there are some common must-have items you should include:

  • Sterile gloves 
  • Masks 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Trauma shears 
  • Tweezers 
  • Thermometer 
  • CPR Shield 
  • Different sizes of Band-Aids 
  • Different sizes of gauzes 
  • Tape 
  • Dressings 
  • Triangular bandage
  • Butterfly closures
  • Eye patches 
  • Burn treatment (This can be gel or a burn pad) 
  • Antiseptic wipes 
  • Saline solution 
  • Sunscreen 

dog with First Aid Kit

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For a more advanced overland first aid kit, you’ll want to include the following as well:

  • Emergency Trauma dressing 
  • Abdominal dressing 
  • Chest Seals 
  • Tourniquet 
  • Moldable Splint
  • Antibiotic cream 

It may be a good idea to look up the manuals of the more complicated items, such as how to apply a tourniquet and add a QR code linking to an instruction video if the package does not already contain it.

Also, be sure to print out an easy-to-walk-through step-by-step guide as you may not always have mobile service on your trips. 

Medications to Include in Your Overland First Aid Safety Kit

person with medicine injector

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Again, the specific medicines you need to take with you on an overlanding trip will depend on your specific needs. But, there are some common medicines that any overland first aid kit should have. Here’s a good off road first aid kit list:

  • Epipen or insulin if that is part of your regular overland medical kit. 
  • Ibuprofen 
  • Acetaminophen
  • Honey or glucose
  • After bite
  • Antihistamines
  • Antacids
  • Electrolytes
  • Antidiarrheal

Never use antibiotics on a victim if they are unconscious. They could be allergic to certain types of antibiotics, including penicillin, and the allergic reaction could turn the situation more dire and even life-threatening in some cases. 

Helpful Items to Have If You Get Lost

Helpful Items to Have If You Get Lost

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If you do end up in a situation where a search and rescue team needs to find you to extract you, there are several items you should pack to make yourself easier to locate. 

Whistle 

It will be helpful to repeatedly call for the attention of a search and rescue team. Over a significant distance, the high pitch can easily be heard and recognized. It also puts less stress on the victim if you repeatedly blow a whistle than constantly scream in panic for a team to find you. The same goes for your vocal cords. 

Lightstick 

A lightstick will create a light source for you to see what you are doing for your victim whenever nightfall hits and you are not close to your vehicle and its lights. It will also help you be seen by others trying to find you or help you signal them down.

Of course, a flashlight would do the same trick, but if the battery dies or you forgot to charge it altogether, having a lightstick as a backup could come in handy. 

Compass 

A compass is not only helpful in navigating the old-school way, but it can also be beneficial to point out where you are relative to specific landmarks to a rescue team. That way, the rescue team can cross-reference your position and drastically narrow down the search area. 

Keep in mind that you will likely be out of cell service in remote areas, and your phone will often have more trouble pinpointing your location accurately. So don’t rely on that too much. 

Always Remember

First Aid Safety Kit

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Ensure to replenish everything used in your overland first aid kit before a new trip—adding a small notepad and pen to your expedition first aid kit to note what you used and need to replace before the recent trip means that you won’t forget anything. You should only write them during minor injuries, though, as that is something you will not have time to spare for in a life-threatening situation. Therefore it is crucial to always double-check your first-aid kit while preparing for an upcoming trip. 

After all that, hopefully you will never need more than a basic band-aid. However, being prepared with the best overland first aid kit is half the victory when it comes to overlanding.

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