Introduction: Super Easy First Aid/Survival Kit

About: I'm just your regular technogeek Dad.

My son and I made pill bottle first aid kits last year in his Cub Scout troop. While I really liked the fact that his pack leaders were teaching the kids how to be prepared for small emergencies, I decided to take the original design and upgrade it a bit. This is my take on how you can design a very inexpensive mini first aid kit that will be invaluable for most situations, while at the same time taking up very little space in a backpack, purse, pocket, or car's glove compartment. I keep one with me at all times, one in my desk at the office, and have insisted that my wife carry one as well. My son has a modified version in his backpack, without the matches or lighter.

Now, the kit that the Scouts built was primarily geared towards first aid, but I felt that, with the right modifications, you could diversify it's uses without adding a lot of weight.

The best thing about this kit is that you can put it together for less than $4.00! I'll explain how in the steps.

Step 1: Step 1: the Vessel

In order to properly contain your mini first aid kit, you will need something to store it in. I particularly like prescription bottles, because you can get them for free. I used to work at CVS/pharmacy years ago, but I still have a rapport with the pharmacists there. If you have a pharmacy that you frequent, simply ask the pharmacy staff for a couple of vials, and explain that you are building mini first aid kits out of them. Request the non safety cap lids. CVS carries two varieties of bottle lids; safety, which require some force to push down and twist, and non safety cap, with require only the flick of a thumb to open. Other pharmacies carry "all in one" lids, but I recommend the variety shown. If you only have one free hand (perhaps you are applying pressure to a wound or you have a cut on the other hand) this makes it easier to pop open.

If you can, request a "40 dram" vial. They are bigger than your typical 13 or 20 dram vials, but not as big as a 60 dram, which is massive. It is just the right size for your equipment.

I am also not adverse to other vessels, like Altoids tins, but I use those for other things.

COST: $0.00

Step 2: Step 2: Emergency Lighting

During my time as a recruiter for the company I work for now, I went to lots of job fairs at college campuses. Recruiters are always trying to lure hires to their booths, and will set out all sorts of "swag" to entice people to approach. I would often approach and befriend other recruiters, then swipe some of their stuff, or trade swag with them. Most of them are out of state recruiters and don't want to have to lug a bunch of stuff back to the home office, so they are happy to give you a few to lighten the load. Don't be greedy, but definitely grab a couple. Typically they will have a keychain on them, but just remove it for this.

These flashlights (this particular one measures about 2 1/2 inches long) fit perfectly in this kit. They are a must have for lighting the way in the event of a power outage or if your car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

At one job fair, I found a combination compass/light/whistle that one recruiter was giving away. I did swipe several of those to give to my son's den. They all loved them when I handed them out on the next camping trip!

COST: $0.00, if you know where to look. Otherwise, you can buy very small keychain flashlights for a couple of dollars

Step 3: Step 3: Fire Starter

I carry two forms of fire starting materials in my kit. While not normal fare for a first aid kit, I keep these in there in the event I am stranded and need to build a fire. We camp often and this has come in very handy in the past.

The mini Bic fits in perfectly, and I actually disassembled the matches to make more space. Take a look at the next slide to see how.


Matches: $0.00 (picked them up at a restaurant on my way out)

Mini-BIC Lighter: ~$2.00 (based on average prices for packs of three that I've seen in store)

Step 4: Step 4: Space Saver

To save a bit of space, I used super glue to glue part of the strike strip of the matches into the lid. This way you know exactly where to strike the matches without having to fumble for the strip inside the bottle.

COST: $0.00, but you'll need Super Glue to attach it to the lid

Step 5: Step 5: a Little "Pick Me Up"

Candy is an important piece of your survival kit. If you are having to hike or are stranded somewhere and your blood sugar gets low (especially for diabetics), then this could possibly save your life! I actually got a handful of these from a coworker, and any high sugar hard candy will work just fine, including coffee Nips.

COST: ~$4.00 for a bag

Step 6: Step 6: Aluminum Foil: 101 Uses

One square foot of aluminum foil can be used for many different applications, including fashioning it into a drinking cup, using it to hold food as it cooks, or signaling someone if you are lost in the woods. I'm sure that if you think about it, you can come up with several other uses as well.

This should be a kitchen staple, but if it isn't, you can find sheets as most restaurants. Just ask for extra when you are taking your food to go. However, I will advise that I prefer the thicker "heavy duty" variety, because it is more durable.

COST: $0.00

Step 7: Step 7: Pin Up

Safety pins are another multitasker. You can use it to fasten gauze or a shirt around a wounded limb, pin your shirt up to make a makeshift sling, or sterilize the tip and dig out a splinter. In a pinch, you can even use it as a fishing hook!

Another household staple, if you must buy them, go somewhere where you can buy a bunch for cheap.

COST: $0.00

Step 8: Step 8: Cleanse the Wound

Little swab packets can be found at restaurants, like Chik-Fil-A. The next time you are in there, grab a handful and a few straws (I'll explain later). I actually got a few from a health fair my company held.

COST: $0.00

Step 9: Step 9: Prevent Infection

After you sterilize the wound, you'll want to apply an antibiotic. Unfortunately, the tube may not fit inside your vessel, and individual packets are ridiculously expensive. You can cut apart a drinking straw (one that you stole from Chik-Fil-A) and squeeze some of your own antibacterial ointment into it, seal the ends with either tape or by melting them with a lighter and needlenose pliers, and then add them to your kit.

COST: $1.00 (for a tube of the generic antibiotic ointment)

Step 10: Step 10: Dress the Wound

After sterilization and antibiotic, you need to keep dirt out of the wound. These fabric bandages are my personal preference due to their flexibility, but you can use any type bandage you want. I got a large box of generic ones for $1.00 from a grocery store.

COST: $1.00 for a box of generic fabric bandages

Step 11: Step 11: Putting It All Together

I like to start from the wall and place the following in in order:

1. Aluminum Foil


3. Alcohol Pads

4. Firestarters

5. Antibiotic Ointment

6. Flashlight

7. Everything else just kind of squeeze in.

There is still quite a bit of space in this kit. You could also consider putting the following items into it, as long as you have room.

* Fishing hooks, fishing sinkers and 20 feet of 4 pound test line (make sure you know how to tie your knots!) in a small plastic bag

* 3 inch strips of duct tape

* A small roll of gauze

* Tweezers

* A small Swiss army pocket knife/multitool

Step 12: There You Have It!

I hope you've enjoyed this Instructable. In the future, I plan on creating an Instructable on how to create your own single-use ointment packets.

Thanks for reading.