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The Basics: Wounds
Essential Medical Supplies Everyone Should Have


Welcome to my guide to survival-medicine supplies. Here are the types of supplies I think you should have and why I believe they’re important.

(I get a small percentage of the items you buy via this survival store. I’m not guaranteeing the quality of any of the products. They’re just the type I would pick if I were buying—and often I am.)

Click on the pictures below to buy the items.
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Adhesive Bandages:
Regular and “knuckle & fingertip” style

Ready-made, nonstick, sterile bandages that you can cut to size. I also like the “knuckle & fingertip” style (right) because they fit so well on really any part of your fingers and toes.

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This is just rolled-up one-layer cotton gauze. If I could have only one type of gauze, I’d choose this because you can not only wrap it around a wound on an extremity, but you can cut it to size to fit other wounds. Plus, you can make it into a 6- or 12-ply gauze pad or whatever thickness you want just by folding it.

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4-inch (or combo pack) and 2-inch

Coban is like a very thin elastic bandage that sticks to itself. It’s great to cover a gauze bandage or wrap around a splint. I think the 3- or 4-inch (left and middle) is the most handy, with a little 2-inch (right) for fingers and toes. You can also buy a combo pack (middle) with SAM Splints—a product I recommend having as well.

Coban is not as good as an elastic bandage for using alone on a sprained extremity. For elastic bandage and SAM Splint recommendations, see basic bone and joint supplies.

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Sterile Gauze Pads

Sterile gauze can be used for any wound, but it’s especially important for second-degree burns after the blister pops and for third-degree burns since infection is a big risk in these wounds. A 4×4-inch size is usually large enough. You can add several side-by-side for larger wounds.

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Nonsterile Gauze Pads

Nonsterile gauze will do to for a typical nonburn wound. They take up room, so they can be stored in your home much easier than your bug-out (emergency evacuation) bag or backpack.

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Tampons and Sanitary Napkins

In addition to the obvious uses, tampons can be used for nosebleeds and large puncture wounds (knife, gunshot, etc). Sanitary napkins can be used for regular or pressure dressings. Get the thicker ones made from cotton.

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Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline is the most common brand name. Uses include:

  • Keeping a bandage from sticking to a wound (use a little dab)
  • Moisturizing dry skin (it keeps the moisture from evaporating out of the skin)
  • Preventing a shoe from rubbing and causing a blister (put a little on the heel of a sock)
  • Helping start a fire (put some on a piece of cotton, and use as a fire starter)

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Cotton Balls

Cotton balls can be used:

  • With disinfectant liquids to clean wounds
  • As a dressing
  • As a nosebleed stopper (pack several into the nostril; a little petroleum jelly or antibacterial ointment can help push them in smoother.
  • As a fire starter (add a little petroleum jelly here too if you have it)

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Latex-Free Tape:
Paper or Transpore

Duct tape is good for medical purposes, but it contains latex, and some people are allergic to that. Latex-free tape is also good for people with sensitive skin.

Paper tape (left) is the cheaper option. It isn’t waterproof like duct tape. The inch-wide is the most versatile. I like the Transpore surgical tape (right) better. It seems stronger.




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