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Suggestions for a First Aid Kit

By Flash Gordon, MD

From: flash gordon md <>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 20:26:22 -0700


What do you need in a first aid kit? That depends: Do you spend most of your time within the city limits, or do you find yourself riding down to Baja every fall? If you’re a city rider, just stick a few band aids and some antibiotic ointment in your tool kit. You’ll always be within a few minutes of an emergency room. If you do weekend rides out in the country, you need more than just band aids. Check out the list below.

Long distance tourers will want to carry all of the below items. Don’t forget your prescription meds, along with their original bottles. A copy of your glasses prescription is worthwhile anytime.

  • BAND AIDS: Band Aids are the brand of adhesive bandage sold by Johnson and Johnson. The best kind are the stretchy, elastic kind, since they bend with you and don’t fall off immediately. “Coverlet” brand come in a box of assorted shapes, including knuckle, fingertip and standard shape. Highly useful. Remember, though, that putting a band aid over a cut or scratch that hasn’t been disinfected is like giving the germs a house to hang out in …
  • DISINFECTANT: Povidone iodine is the best. It doesn’t sting like old-fashioned iodine or mercurochrome, and works lots better. Betadine is the best known brand. Get an 8-oz. bottle and keep it at home in the kitchen, where you keep your first aid kit (What? You keep it in the bathroom? When was the last time you got cut or burned in the bathroom?) and just carry a little 2-oz. bottle with you.
  • ELASTIC BANDAGE: Often called Ace wraps (a brand name), they’re useful for wrapping sprains, immobilizing fractures along with a splint, holding ice packs on sore areas, and for bondage. No, just joking. I wanted to see if anybody has read this far … A 3″ band is the most useful size (good for wrists) but, if you have room, take a 6″ too (for knees).
  • GAUZE PADS: It’s worth carrying a few 2″ x 2″ and some 4″ x 4″ gauze pads (called “two by twos” and “four by fours” in the med bizz just don’t try to buy ’em in a lumber yard …) for use in covering burns, scrapes, cuts and nicks, and for use in cleaning injuries. You just pour some disinfectant on a gauze pad and swab out the wound. Scream if you like. Better yet, have a friend with sadistic tendencies help.
  • NON-STICK GAUZE: Best known brand is the Telfa pad. Use ’em on areas of road rash, so removing the pad won’t cause you to use language you wouldn’t want your mom to hear … Remember, in using any kind of gauze or band aid, DON’T TOUCH THE PART THAT IS GOING TO TOUCH THE WOUND!! Your fingers will contaminate it, and so much for cleaning it out in the first place.
  • GOOP: Actually, antibiotic ointment. Triple antibiotic ointment, neosporin, bacitracin; all are just about as good. Get whatever’s cheapest, and wrap it in something so the vibration from your bike doesn’t rub a hole in the side and cause it to leak all over the place. You don’t need a sterile spark plug wrench …
  • WIRE SPLINT: A useful item to have if you’ll be spending time in the boonies. It’s a piece of heavy-duty chicken wire that you can fold into a splint and wrap with an elastic bandage to use for fractures. If you or a rider have to ride with a fracture, a good splint is good news.
  • TRIANGULAR BANDAGE: Just a big piece of cloth. Useful for slings and for bandaging different areas. They were standard issue during wartime, and, considering the attitudes some people have while riding in their cars on freeways, maybe not inappropriate now. Don’t forget the safety pins for this.
  • ZINC OXIDE: Good for healing scrapes and burns. Helps ’em dry out and heal faster. Start using it about the second day use “goop” (see above) the first day.

Together, all of the above weigh about half a pound, and fit into an area the size of a paperback book. You can call the American Red Cross to find out about a first aid course, if you’re going more than a couple of hours away from “civilization.” Of course, people’s definitions of civilization vary quite a bit. For me, it’s not civilized if I can’t get a pizza delivered at midnight seven days a week …

(c) copyright flash gordon md

To read more about the book, click on this link: Blood, Sweat and Gears

“Keep the bloody side in and the hairy side out.”
flash gordon, md