Build a Paddling First Aid Kit

A well-stocked first aid kit is something you hope you won’t need on a paddle trip. But you’ll sure be glad to have one along if you do! Here are the basics you won’t want to leave home without…

bending branches canoe paddles

You can either build your own first aid kit or buy a ready-made kit. Even if you buy one, though, you’ll want to consider customizing it for your group and purposes.

Some Events to Be Prepared For

We can’t take away all risk from an outdoor adventure, but we can certainly prepare for it. Here are some common scenarios you may face:

  • Bee, wasp or hornet stings
  • Poison ivy and other noxious plants
  • Blisters on hands and feet
  • Scrapes, gashes, cuts and other wounds
  • Twisted ankles, sprains or worse
  • Hypothermia in cold and/or wet conditions
  • Illness

Basic Items for Your First Aid Kit

While we should be able to assume those in your group are prepared for their own unique health issues (diabetes, bee allergies, etc.), it doesn’t hurt to remind everyone to bring what they need.

Beyond that, here are some basic items you should have along. The amount of each depends on the length of your adventure, the size of your groups, and the accessibility—or not—of emergency services:

Over-the-Counter Medications—Drugs like ibuprofin (Advil), aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), antacids (Tums) for pain, inflammation, stomach issues. Antihistimine (Benadryl) for allergic reactions, topical hydrocortison and antiseptic creams.

First Aid Tools—Assorted bandages, wraps, Steri-Strips, sterile gauze pads, medical tape, moleskin, adhesive bandages (Band-Aids), antiseptic wipes, small blunt scissors, tweezers, safety pins, trauma pads, sterile gloves.

A roll of duct tape can come in handy for many different situations—including a quick, temporary repair for your canoe or kayak! And consider a few strike-anywhere matches, a lighter or other quick fire starter in the event you need to warm someone up.

Get a Free First Aid Supply Checklist

Author and adventurer, Andrew Skurka, has provided this checklist as a free download (please honor his copyright requests that are on the same page). While his specialty is backpacking, the same types of items are appropriate for a paddling trip—as long as they're in a waterproof container.

The vast majority of the time you won’t need to pull out your First Aid Kit for anything more than a scrape or blister here and there. But when you need it for more serious situations, you’ll be glad yours is well stocked.

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