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Marine News from the Great Lakes

Check, Re-Stock, Add New Items to Your First-Aid Kit

Published: Thursday, November 9, 2017
By: Capt. Fred Davis

A first aid kit is not a Coast Guard requirement recreationally, but if well kept, it can be a lifesaver. Your kit may not be looked at until needed and that should change immediately. “Why?” you may ask. The answer will be obvious when you open the lid.

Most kits contain latex gloves that break down, become sticky, and can actually melt. If the kit is stored in a hot environment — under a deck exposed to sunlight or in a compartment near heat from the engine — many materials can be affected. Tape and bandages may be unusable, mushy, and won’t stick. Salves, lotions, and ointments may have burst and leaked, and glass containers can break. It’s possible that all items may be useless.

Take your first-aid kit out, look at the contents, and make a list to re-stock.

Scissors: If you have a need for them during rough seas that create lively conditions, regular sharp-tipped scissors could be dangerous. Consider finding the type with rounded tips that will cut tape and gauze.

Tweezers: Fibers from old poly-ski towlines or worn mooring lines can become embedded in skin. Tweezers are a handy item to have but may not be in standard kits.

Antiseptics: Be sure you have antiseptics of various types to clean wounds.

Liquid Bandages: Spray or brush-on Skin Shield® Liquid Bandage is a must. It will seal a wound and provide an antiseptic. Put the containers with liquids in zip-locked containers so, if they break, their contents won’t foul all the items in your kit.

Anti-Nausea Medication: Many seasickness remedies are in the form of pills. If in your kit, refrain from offering them to anyone who may take medications that could react to them. Consider stocking and offering a pair of Queaz-Away Travelers Wristbands by Davis instead. These have no side-effects and work better for many people.

Supplies for More Serious Injuries: For major emergencies, you should have a couple of large gauze pads to apply pressure and a roll of cling for wrapping the wound. Many kits don’t allow room for clean water or rubbing alcohol, but they need to be onboard. Any cut from fish scales, fins, or teeth should be flushed with clean water immediately, and then washed with rubbing alcohol.

Band-Aids®: If you have young children onboard, you should have a special box of kids-themed Band-Aids®. Let them pick one themselves since this activity helps them get over the boo-boo more quickly. Because of the kids onboard, select a safe place to store the kit, out of their reach.

A Water-Resistant Case: If you want to make up your own, a case with a tight gasket seal is best. You could look for an ammo box or the hard, plastic type used to store flares. Be sure the size of your kit fits the size of your boat. You don’t want it to be so large that it’s in the way, but it must be accessible.


tags: Safety

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