I have a bee in my bonnet about many of the first aid kits being sold.
|My grab bag, a "Peli" case is expensive but an
ideal container for a first aid kit or Grab bag,
this one was repurposed previously having
cameras and IT gear in it, hence the cut outs.
Then the first time I had to use it for a not terribly serious albeit gruesome injury - a finger badly cut whilst trying to adjust the alternator belt (Tip: use a nail bar as a leaver, used appropriately with the "V" end firmly located, it will not slip) - I used the entire supply of wound closures and could have used more, just on one finger. Then with all the blood around the "waterproof" plasters would not stick.
Fortunately I was anchored just off Newlyn with the dinghy in the water so was able to make temporary repairs and row in and wait for the chemist shop to open to get more wound closures and some sensible fabric dressings that worked fine, and I still caught the tide round the Lizard.
Serious first aid kits for sailing are available from a number of sources and some look really excellent (like those from MSOS) but they are aimed at boats with lots of people on them and are very expensive, I am sure that some suppliers would (or do) do a kit for the solo sailor but again that would come at a price. Update: MSOS do a kit for long distance solo sailors, I have no idea how much it costs.
I'm not a medic so best check independently, but I would recommend a basic or mid priced first aid kit to start then add to it to make sure you have at least:
- Trauma / Field / Battle Dressings in 2 or 3 sizes - good for puncture, deep slash wounds, etc. and easier than most to put on yourself, good ones come with a tensioning device to apply direct pressure to the wound. Don't be fooled into buying out of date packs on eBay, a search there and elsewhere will find new long dated ones at much the same price.
- Burn dressings, paraffin tulle gauze, etc. Burns and scolds are two of the most common injuries on a boat so don't stint on these and include some big ones.
- Standard & Conforming / elasticated bandages, the traditional triangular bandages in many kits are likely to be a waste of time for the single handed sailor.
- Very large, large and medium plasters / wound dressings as used post-Op in hospitals - you will probably have to get them on-line.
- Wound pads.
- Antiseptic wipes.
- Dressing Strip; good quality fabric ones are in my experience much more robust and practical than most others.
- Standard, finger and other specialist plasters, again I take good quality fabric ones, lots of them, bought on line rather than at the supermarket or chemists they will not break the bank.
- Wound closures, lots to allow for long wounds and wastage whilst trying to apply them to yourself - hand and finger injuries are perhaps the most common on a boat and closures can be difficult to apply with one hand.
- Super Glue.
- Finger stall.
- Micropore tape.
- ZincOxide tape (Gaffer/Duct/Bodge tape will do at a pinch and may be better for serious strapping).
- Elasticated support tube, at least in knee and elbow / ankle sizes.
- A Euro Splint (battens or bits of wood plus gaffer / bodge tape will work but these are better and a lot more comfortable).
- Eye bath, tweezers, nail scissors, clinical scissors (one side blunt to go next to the body), etc. - most would probably be included in the original kit.
- In these days of Coronavirus, some FFP2 / N95 masks, hand wash and a test kit.
- Some surgical gloves are probably a good idea.
- Cling film.
- First aid guide / book.
- Liquid antiseptic (TCP, Dettol etc).
- Avomine (Promethazine Teoclate - a serious anti sea sickness pill), since it's first service there is also some in the life raft survival pack, if the raft has not been serviced they (or similar) will come separately so will need to be in the grab bag.
- Stugeron - Cinnarizine - not as strong as Avomine, probably better for the skipper as it is less likely to cause drowsiness or confusion.
- Analgesics: Dihydrocodeine (on prescription only, on board for the unlikely event that my wife should come on board😉), Ibroprofen (also a NSAID), Paracetamol.
- Deep Heat, Deep cold, Ibuprofen gel, Voltarol 2.32% (Diclofenac NSAID gel).
- Naproxen (a stronger NSAID) and Omeprazole to protect the stomach from the Naproxen. Both on prescription for arthritis but not normally needed. Naproxen is good for various injuries to reduce swelling, but used as a last resort as more than a few doses they will inevitably require a.....
- Starter: Senna, Dulcolax, Laxido (as a last resort - it tastes foul).
- Stopper: Imodium.
- Germoloids or similar.
- Hydrocortisone Cream.
- Rehydration formula, you can make one yourself but if you need it badly you might not be thinking straight and ready made is convenient.
- I am allergic to various insect bites so carry a particularly good stock of the following which can also be useful for a number of other problems, be careful combining antihistamines with anti sea sickness pills, Stugeron for instance is both:
- Piriton antihistamine (chlorphenamine).
- Loratadine Non Drowsy antihistamine.
- Autan insect repellent.
Be very careful to read the label and to check for interaction between drugs, in 1977, off Ushant heading for Gosport, I took some Kaolin & Morphine Mixture and had previously taken a strong (military issued) anti sea sickness pill (we only had the one type on board): I slept for 8 hours which was a bit of a problem for my sailing companion, there were only the two of us and the 34ft boat was not equipped for single handed sailing, fortunately he coped and I was then rested enough to let him sleep for a long time.
|Two of my Peli cases ashore for the winter,
the main first aid kit stays on the boat.
- Part of the first aid kit, it is organised so that most things are duplicated in the main first aid kit so the Grab Bag does not need to be distributed for most injuries unless things drag on.
- Dry cell battery pack for the hand held VHF.
- Spare batteries for the VHF, strobes, etc..
- LED "hand flare".
- 2 x parachute flares, I am no longer replacing out of date flares moving to more modern methods, see my page Pyrotechnics or Electronics for Emergency / Distress Signalling?
- Pen sized LED torches.
- Space blanket in case I don't get the emergency neoprene immersion suit off the boat.
- Kendal mint cake for emergency rations.
- Re-hydration powder.
- Re-arming kit for the primary life jacket.
- My passport if going out of UK waters and ships papers including the SSR and insurance documents, a credit card might also be a good idea. My wallet and car keys are in a "bum bag" ready to hand, if I were getting concerned I would ware it or put it into the grab bag - these days car keys that have had a ducking probably won't work.
|Some would put this emergency equipment in the grab bag,
I prefer it to be immediately at hand from the saloon or cockpit.
The life raft is after all a last resort so I would likely be activating
the EPIRB whilst on the boat.
This VHF has GPS to give position data for a DSC emergency alert, switch these types on every few days long enough to get a GPS position, that will update the almanac and its current location so that it in an emergency it will get a fix quicker than if it has been off for months and has to download a new copy and start calculating from scratch.
|PLB on one side and a combined strobe & torch the other, spare batteries
for the latter in the grab bag and in my box of batteries. The AIS SART is
inside the life jacket cover with an activation string round the bladder.
Take a sensible number of rearming kits (mine is kept in the Grab Bag) in case life jackets are inflated, for real or by accident and have at least one spare lifejacket.
And, of course, check everything at least once a year taking particular care that there is no physical damage and that the gas bottle is not corroding, with heavy use my last one was perfect after 4 years but quite badly corroded and was replaced after 5.
|I might not wear it all the time but it is always
to hand, after 6 years the filling was starting to
come out of the fabric. Time for a replacement.