Most generic first aid kits carry the essentials for an impromptu medical situation. There’s usually a bunch of Band-Aids, some rolls of gauze, little tube of peroxide, cotton balls, a different looking kind of a bandage that you pull out when things get a bit more grizzly, tape and maybe a little ibuprofen. If you have a good one, there might even be a little pair of scissors, a cold press and some rubber gloves.
Sailing doctor Michael Mellman, who has a resume to the sky, suggests packing a tourniquet and knowing how to use it, have a squirt bottle filled with fresh water, butterfly strips and interestingly a bottle of superglue. Mellman has been a doctor for a number of professional sports teams and says superglue is an integral part of an athletic doctor’s arsenal.
“If you go into the emergency room these days they rarely sew things together that they can glue. There is a medical grade product that’s similar to Superglue. The Superglue Company would never recommend it for that application, but we all carry it. For lacerations that aren’t terribly deep it works well.“
Mellman’s kit is probably a bit more stocked than most of ours but it’s properly packed – he’s a doctor for God’s sake! “You should have an antibiotic on board,” he said. “Get one from your doctor. I also carry a little bit of Tylenol/Codeine. It’s good for a few things – pain, diarrhea or a cough.”
“The other thing I carry is a bee-sting kit [prescribed]. It’s not necessarily the bees we’re worried about two-miles out, but it’s for a severe reaction of any kind.”
“”Someone might eat food or take an antibiotic they adversely react to, or have asthma. The contents within a bee sting kit basically allow you to buy time for a severe reaction to many different things.”
Here’s 5 extra things Dr. Mellman suggests you cram in that first aid kit:
- Super Glue
It might sound a little weird, but take a page from the world of professional athletes and glue up that cut!
With the hope that you never have to use it, having a tourniquet on board could be the difference between a really bad day and a changed life.
While many kits have tweezers, many do not. Check your kit and make sure. Boats typically have lots of tools and spares, but unless there is a well-groomed woman around, tweezers might be just what you need and just what you don’t have.
Syringes are good to have in the kit not because you’ll be injecting shots into anyone while you’re on your lovely daysail, but more for a way to more efficiently clean a wound. A turkey baster is good too but they’re bigger. A syringe can be dipped into a water bottle and used to accurately clean up a small or medium sized cut. Then grab that super glue! Glue up your buddy and sail that puppy back home!
- Bee Sting Kit (prescribed)
The good doctor says this is ideal for “a severe reaction of any kind”. There’s peace of mind knowing that if someone on the boat starts to have some sort of odd reaction to some unknown thing, you can reach into the kit and see if the bee sting stuff works.