How to Assemble an EDC First Aid Kit and Where to Keep It

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he I-85 bridge in Atlanta Georgia, a major highway for both commuters and vacationers, collapsed last week due to a fire that allegedly started in a shopping cart beneath the bridge.

first aid kit items inside an Altoids tin
first aid kit items inside an Altoids tin

The fire that resulted led to the collapse of one part of the bridge and damage to several other sections. I personally have family members in Atlanta who crossed over that bridge about a half hour prior to its collapse. No one could have predicted that fire or the bridge collapse that followed.

Thankfully, no injuries were reported due to the bridge collapse, but traffic was jammed for hours, something many people weren’t expecting. I can recall last winter, those same family members in Atlanta, being stuck for hours on the interstate due to a freak snowstorm.

They were literally within just a couple miles of home but simply stranded with hundreds of others in their cars, unable to move, until help arrived.

In fact, the reconstruction and repairs to the I-85 bridge may result in unexpected traffic jams and major delays over the next several months as families travel for Spring and Summer vacations.

If you’re like most people, it may be difficult for you to know where to even begin when it comes to being prepared for a crisis or SHTF event.

Many people start with a bug out bag or BOB, which is a bag designed to carry all the supplies you would need to survive if you and your family were forced to leave your home for a period of twenty-four to seventy-two hours. A 72-hour BOB is a necessity on your list of SHTF preparations.

But what about emergencies like the two I’ve described? And those little illnesses or injuries that happen without warning or any notice at home, work, or while on vacation.

Have you ever had something go wrong just during a routine day at work? Perhaps you smashed your finger with a hammer or were the closest person to a co-worker stung by a bee. We want to be ready for anything at any time, but we can’t possibly predict when medical issues will arise.

Plus, it’s just not practical for anyone to carry a fifteen or twenty-pound bag of supplies around with them constantly “just in case” something happens. So how can you be more prepared for whatever life may throw at you no matter when it occurs?

One of the first goals on your list as a prepper should involve your everyday carry or EDC kit. This is the kit that you carry with you on your person wherever you go, whether you are at home, at work, or on vacation with the family.

It’s the items that you have with you and can rely on until you can safely get to your bug out bag or a more comprehensive kit that you keep stored safely away.

Most people, even those who aren’t yet consciously prepping, have items that are never out of reach, such as keys, a wallet or purse, and a cell phone.

An EDC kit simply expands on these items that you carry every day and includes additional items that would come in handy in an emergency, such as a pocket knife, personal defense weapon, some change or cash, etc.

For more items to consider for your full EDC kit, check out our megalist of EDC items. As part of your kit, always include a variety of first aid items for medical issues that may arise.

For this article, we are going to focus on just the EDC first aid kit and where to store it so that it is within easy reach when life’s little medical emergencies rear their head.

Step One: What Can Go Wrong?

To figure out what medical items we need to carry, let’s first take a moment to really think about all the different types of medical things that could go wrong, not just during a bug out or survival situation but on an everyday basis.

If you spend some time reflecting on the medical illnesses and injuries you’ve experienced in the past, you can quickly come up with a long list of things that can happen without much warning such as:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Splinters
  • Burns
  • Skin irritations
  • Puncture wounds
  • Bug bites
  • Allergies
  • Sunburn
  • Dehydration
  • Hypothermia
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Upset stomach
  • Hangnail or broken fingernail
  • Sprained or broken ankle
  • Sunburn, Sun poisoning, or Heat stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Diabetic Imbalance (high or low glucose)
  • Inflammation, muscle soreness
  • Rehydration (electrolyte)
  • Bee stings
  • Trauma injuries

Now you may be looking at that list and thinking “how can I possibly carry enough stuff with me at all times to be prepared for all that?” And of course, there is absolutely no way that one person can be prepared for every single illness, injury, or emergency with just a small number of items.

Step Two: What Will You Need?

But if you think strategically about your  kit and where to store it, there are ways that you can be prepared for a wide variety of things without having to lug a huge first aid kit with you at all times.

When you look back over the list we made of things that can go wrong above; you’ll see that there are some obvious categories when it comes to treating those injuries and illnesses.

Pain, Infection, or Fever

There are some categories that almost everyone will deal with at some point in their life. Whether it’s a headache, a twisted ankle, or something more serious, you’ll want to have at least a couple of doses of pain relieving medication on hand.

Even minor cuts and scrapes can get infected, and if you or a family member is running a high fever, it can certainly throw a wrench in your day.

A fever or infection during a bug out trip can be disastrous if not treated. It’s a good idea to carry triple antibiotic cream as well as a thermometer and fever reducing medication.

Allergic Reactions and Skin Irritations

Most people have had at least some experience with allergic reactions. But every person is different, and allergy reactions can range from very mild hives to a life-threatening breathing problem.

Even if you know you have an allergy, it’s not always possible to avoid allergy triggers. Make sure you include the medication you need to both treat and stop any allergic reactions.

Antihistamine medications and hydrocortisone creams are standard treatments for mild reactions. If you have a known life-threatening allergy, you’ll want to include an Epi-pen as well.

Be sure to consider treatments for other minor skin irritations such as bug bites, sunburn, and blisters. You may want to carry single-use packets of calamine lotion, aloe vera gel, or a moleskin or cushion bandage as well as Band-Aids in various sizes which can greatly reduce discomfort until you can get home.

Trauma or Shock

If emergency and transportation workers had not been able to clear the bridge in Atlanta prior to its collapse, there could have been hundreds of people hurt unexpectedly.

An event of this magnitude can result in not only minor injuries but also some more serious injuries such as broken bones and severe bleeding, or dizziness, from a crash or fall, possibly some heart attacks or burns, and the resulting trauma and shock that comes with these injuries.

When there are widespread events that cause injury to multiple people, professional help may be delayed. This is why it’s important to include things such as a tourniquet, compression or butterfly bandages, splint materials, burn cream, gauze, etc.

Gastrointestinal Problems

We’ve all had days when our stomach and the intestinal system doesn’t work quite as well as it should for whatever reason. If you experience frequent bouts of gastrointestinal issues, it should include medications to treat things in this category including an antidiarrheal, laxative, Pepto Bismol, anti-nausea medication, and antacids.

Situational/Occupation Issues

Sometimes your location or occupation may dictate what you need to carry in your EDC first aid kit. If you are hiking for days in the wilderness or kayaking, you may want to take along a CPR mask and an emergency Mylar blanket in case of a water accident. For a ski trip, you may want to include items to treat hypothermia and frostbite.

Those who work in an office environment may need to treat minor burns, cuts, scrapes, headache or fever whereas a construction worker may want to carry items to temporarily treat trauma wounds such as bleeding and bruising that can occur from a fall, a power tool, or heavy equipment accident.

Park rangers and police officers may need to be prepared to temporarily treat things such as gunshot wounds, hypothermia, dehydration, or car accident injuries.

Factory workers may be more likely to need to temporarily treat injuries such as lacerations, burns, trauma wounds, or chemical burns.

Step Three: Where to Keep It?

Once you’ve narrowed down the items that you need to carry in your EDC first aid kit, the next step is to gather it all together and store it so that you have quick and easy access to it when needed. There are a ton of different types of containers you can use for your EDC first aid kit.

When choosing a container for your EDC first aid kit, consider what you need to keep in it and how frequently you will need to access it. You may want to put together several different first aid kits geared toward different activities that you regularly do.

There is no right way or wrong to assemble your EDC first aid kit. You can choose to keep everything together in one small container, or you can divide the items up and carry them in different places. You can keep several band-aids in your wallet.

Use a small film canister to store individual doses of pain relief and other pills. You may want to keep a CPR mask, latex gloves, and scissors in your desk at work or the glove compartment of your car. Antacids and Pepto Bismol make sense in a lunchbox or tool box.

Here are just some of the places you can keep your items:

The major considerations for assembling this type of first aid and where to store it are that it’s lightweight, accessible when needed, durable (i.e. waterproof/water resistant), and flexible enough to meet as many medical needs as possible for the locations or scenarios that occur most frequently for you.

Do you currently have an EDC first aid kit? If so, review its contents and consider the things mentioned above. Can you add any items that will increase the odds that you are prepared to handle life’s little emergencies as well as any serious injuries that could occur?

If you don’t already have such a  kit, now is as good a time as any to get one assembled so you can be more ready the next time something happens. Did we miss something on our lists that you think should be included? Share your ideas in the comments below.


The information in this article is provided “as is” and should not be mistaken  for or be a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your physician before trying any of the advice presented on this page. Always seek the help of a professional before employing any of the advice given in this article. Neither the author nor or the company behind the website shall be held liable for any negative effects of you putting into practice the information in this article.

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