First Aid Kit for Boaters

first aid kitHow many times do you check the contents of your Boat’s First Aid Kit? Probably, not very often. It’s one of those things you have on your boat, just in case you need it, hoping you won’t ever need it.

First Aid Kits come in all shapes, sizes and prices, resulting in different contents. Do you have what you might need when something goes wrong? Not having the correct contents can be just as bad as not having a First Aid Kit at all.

But, one boater says there is something more important than having a First Aid Kit on your boat?

 First Aid Course

bandaidHaving a First Aid Kit on your boat isn’t enough says Sheilah, a lifelong Emergency Room Nurse and boater. “In order for the First Aid Kit to be useful” she says, “you have to know how to use it in an emergency”. Just like taking lessons to learn how to handle and dock a boat, drive a car, play a musical instrument or golf, she suggested the most important thing to do is take a First Aid Course. Then, when called upon, you know what to do and how to use your First Aid Kit.  Eliminate the panic and inappropriate action in an emergency. Be prepared to cope with the situation. Google First Aid courses in the country, province or state where you boat, and sign up.

First aid Book

scratch itchOne of the most important things to have in your First Aid Kit is a First Aid Book so you or someone on board can use it as a reference. Sheilah says you can use this book to build your First Aid Kit. Just read it and underline pertinent words like “Apply pressure bandage”. “Pressure bandage” should be underlined and added to your kit.

It’s one thing to have the basics in your First Aid Kit at work, at home, in the car; where you aren’t far from a doctor or hospital if needed. But, on a boat you could be miles from help with hours of travel time. As most boaters know very well, they have to deal with sun burn, bug bites, bee stings, scrapes, bruises and more on a regular basis depending on the time of year, weather conditions and location.

So, maybe your First Aid Kit needs a little more than what it came with.

Thank you

spray bugWe asked for input in a recent newsletter and thank everyone for their emails with suggestions of what to add to a first aid kit for the boat.

Many boaters liked the idea of the First Aid Kit in a backpack with some items in water-proof containers like zip-lock bags (marked with an *), and others like instructions laminated (marked with **). Depending on your boating, you may need to have a waterproof back pack as well.

Below are boaters suggested additions, of items they found were missing, when they needed their First Aid Kit on the water. (no particular order)

  • First Aid Book
  • Emergency phone numbers including coast guard and boat tow service (taped to outside of first aid kit)** – In Ontario Canada, we have a Telehealth number  (1.866 797-0000) offering emergency care provided by Registered Nurses. Different provinces and states and countries have different services. Find out what is available where you are boating and add to your list of emergency numbers.
  • Health Insurance Numbers and list of medications of everyone aboard.
  • Instructions on performing the Heimlich maneuver**
  • sunburnInstructions for Artificial Respiration or CPR**
  • 5 different sizes of sterile gauze pads*
  • Sterile eye bandages (at least 3)*
  • Scissors
  • Medical tape* (for gauze pads)
  • Cold Packs*
  • Neosporin or Polysporin (for infection)
  • Bottle of non-preserved sterile saline contact lens solution for flushing eyes or wounds when water tank water isn’t suitable.
  • Bandaids – different sizes*
  • suntan lotionSuntan lotion 30 SPF or greater (for guests)
  • Sunburn lotion like aloe vera
  • Shirts to block sun rays (i.e. sunveil shirts, hats and gloves)
  • Bug repellent (for black flies, mosquitos  etc.)
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Anti-histamine for bee bites
  • Aspirin and ibuprofen (for inflammation)
  • Wound sealing compound to stop bleeding (for diabetics)
  • Spider Spray or Peppermint oil (to keep spiders out of the boat)
  • Latex Gloves – at least 3 pair (replace often as they deteriorate with age)
  • Tweezers (for pulling slivers etc.)
  • tickHomeopathic remedies
  • Clean towels or paper towels.
  • Large Strong Triangle Bandage (sling, pressure bandage, support a splint, immobilize a limb, support for neck injury.
  • Know how to use the VHF Radio or Cell phone to contact Coast Guard
  • Check to see where hospitals are on your trip, just in case.
  • Small Flashlight (to see in the dark)

Different First Aid Kits for Different Boats

beeEach boat and each trip is unique, so different items are required. Having everything in the kit all the time, ensures a better chance of having what you need when you need it while on the water. Knowing what to do is key in an emergency, so taking a First Aid Course would be a wise investment. Knowledge is Power and it could save a life.

Higher priced First Aid Kits obviously have more contents. A few suggested you check the list of contents in the store before purchasing. If it is already on the boat, open it and check. Then, depending on what you find, consider what other boaters found missing in the above list and add what would be appropriate for your boat.

Be Prepared

Scouts, like our grandson Jason, are taught early to “be prepared” and take a First Aid Course. Jason practices packing and unpacking his First Aid Kit for camping outings to make sure he has everything he might need and be able to find it in a hurry if the occasion arises.

Leave your comments

Please add further additions, recommendations or your stories for items to be included, in the comments section below so that all readers will benefit.

Thank You, and Safe Boating,

Brenda Dawson


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