IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)




About: Thought it was time to update the profile some so here goes... Still married to a wonderfully sweet beautiful woman, still have 5 kids 3-23, we live in the Rocky's about 60 or so miles West of Colorado Sprin...

There are some very good First Aid kits on the market today, unfortunatly, in my opinion, they are either,

A: Too expensive
B: Don't have enough supplies
C: Have supplies you will never need or use.

For these reasons and years spent treating all kinds of traumatic injuries as first a solider then as an NREMT-P and finally as a contactor I put together IFAK's for every member of my family.
I did remove a couple of things from the kit for this Instructable, such as oral and nasal airways, and needle decompression kits, because without proper training in their use you can do more harm then good.

Each of the IFAK's I put together for my family has both oral and nasal airways, sized to the person whose kit it is, and needle decompression kits in them.

I was able to put together six (6) of these kits, as pictured, for under $30. 

Step 1: PPE (Personal Protective Equipmet)

Each IFAK has two (2) pairs of black nitrile gloves, I used black gloves because of working in a tactical enviroment for so long. I got 100 pairs of these gloves at AutoZone for under $10. Hand sanitizer is a must in my book, both in wipe form and liquid form. You can use the wipes to not only clean your hands but they are also safe for cleaning small scrapes and cuts. Keeping further contamination out of the wound, not to mention someone elses blood off of your hands (if you are treating someone else), is important at all times but even more so in a survival situation when you may not be able to get to a hospital.

Step 2: Wound Dressing

Every kit  I have seen has Band-Aid's in it, in quite a few that is all they have. Band-Aid's are one of the greatest things since sliced Wonder Bread as far as I am concerned, at least as far as covering and protecting small cuts,scrapes, and blisters area concerned. For larger wounds 2x2's and 3x4's or 4x4's are the "go to" dressings for trauma. For wounds that the smaller dressings won't cover I use a military field dressing simply because I had a rather large box of them I brought back from my last deployment. You can use Maxi-Pads in a pinch, they are sterile and highly absorbent.

Step 3: More Wound Dressing and Wound Closure

Once you have the wound covered with your 2x2's or 3x4's you will need to secure them to the wound. For small scrapes I prefer just to tape the dressing in place, I use 1" water-proof medical tape. 4" strile roll gauze is used for wounds that need complete coverage. For wounds that require a pressure dressing to get bleeding under control I use a self-adhesive, ACE type bandage. For wounds that require closure to control bleeding I use super glue. I have seen kits that have suture kits in them, and I have those in my large kit, but unless you are Rambo you are not going to want to stick a needle into your flesh over and over again to close a wound. It hurts, a lot! And if you are pressed for time (in a fire fight, running for your life, etc) you won't have the time even if you are Rambo. A couple drops of super glue directly in the wound and pushing the skin closed seals the wound in a matter of seconds plus super glue has the added benefit of causing the blood to clot. The only down side is that it does burn a little and you could stick your fingers to the wound if you aren't caeful. I have butterfly closures in my large kit but have left them out of the IFAK because they are better suited to wound closure when you are not in the field.

Step 4: Stop the Bleeding

When direct pressure and elevation just won't stop the bleeding or when you have deep wounds that you just have to get the bleeding stopped I use use Celox. Celox is just like Quick Clot only about 75% cheaper. It works just as well, if not better then Quick Clot without as much of the "burning" feeling you get with Quick Clot. One package of Celox will stop aterial bleeding in less then a minute and venious bleeding in a matter of seconds. It can be left in the wound, if needed, when you close the wound, something you can't do with Quick Clot.

Step 5: Cravats

Cravats are a must have in any IFAK. They can be used for everything from making a sling for an injuried arm, to tying a splint on a limb, to being used a tourniquet, to being used as a head wrap.  

Step 6: Meds and Misc Stuff

Cotton balls can be used to clean off a wound or scrape if doused with hand sanitizer from your bottle or as additional cushioning matriel for blisters. I have Denta-Picks because I like to be able to at least feel like I am cleaning my teeth. Q-Tips can be used for cleaning deep wounds when doused with sanitizer or for cleaning your ears. While I don't recomend pain medication of any kind for traumatic injuries IF you are within reach of a hospital, in a survival situation pain management will help a great deal. I pack Tylenol and Ibuprofen for limited pain management. I personaly get "heart burn" occasionally and because I do I pack Tums and Zantac. Diahrea can be a killer in a survival situation so some Imodium AD is handy to help control diahrea. I carry potasium gluconate tablets to help with cramps.
there is a "space balnket" in each kit to help mantain body temperature and a 12"x12" sheet of aluminium foil and a similar sized peice of saran wrap to provide an air-tight seal for any penitrating chest trauma.

Step 7: IFAK Case

I pack the IFAK in the same pouch I carry my survival kit in. I added a small red cross to the outer flap of the case so anyone can tell the two cases apart.

Things to remember:

With any serious traumatic injury follw your ABC's

A-Airway- Secure it and keep it open!
B-Breathing- Keep them breathing!
C-Circulation- Stop the bleeding!

Proper training will beat dumb luck 99.9% of the time.

Always use your buddies first aid supplies on him and not yours, you don't know when you will get resupplied or if you are going to need them.

I look forward to seeing your comments and sugestions!

Train to survive!




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    25 Discussions

    Dr Duh

    5 years ago on Introduction

    I would add

    14d supply of antibiotics either Cipro or Augmentin and Flagyl maybe albednazole for parasites

    Tweezers, moleskin, lidocaine gel, mini sterile saline to wash out the eye

    Another Ace so you can splint

    a 20ml syringe for pressure irrigation of wounds

    CAT tourniquet

    I'm not sure what an airway will do for you, I guess it might be helpful for severe facial trauma, but if you go into respiratory failure and there's no Medevac and no hospital then you're pretty much done. I guess you could hand ventilate for a little while, in which case I'd bring a mini ambu bag

    Same with the saran wrap, if you're going there and planning on needling a pneumothorax then you might as well get a mini chest tube set up. But frankly I just don't see getting shot in the chest as a very survivable injury in a TSHTF situation.

    I'd be more likely to use the space on a needle driver a clamp and some suture, some IV tubing, a butterfly and some hypertonic saline. It might give you a fighting chance in a severe hemorrhage situation. (more likely in the big kit)

    4 replies
    tomsweet65Dr Duh

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Since writing this Instructable a year ago, each IFAK has been updated to include a CAT tourniquet (I just haven't gotten around to updating the Instructable yet).

    As for antibiotics we carry Rocephin (for prophylactic administration for traumatic wounds), Cipro, and good ol' penicillin in our "large medical packs", among others. IV fluids, administration sets, a wide range of IV catheters (22ga butterflies up to 14ga large bore), irrigation supplies, Ambu-Bags, and suction equipment are in the bags as well.

    We also have a supply of sutures, lidocaine, and surgical tools, as well as "Chest Darts", Intubation supplies, Thoro-Seals, chest tubes, and the related equipment to treat a pneumothorax or other penetrating chest trauma on a long term basis, we have a stock of O2 (that we don't carry with us) and the related masks and canula's so we can provide O2 therapy if and when needed.

    The kits in the Instructable are for the quick treatment of minor to severe wounds until time and the situation permits more advanced treatments. Luckily I have access to some really good supplies and a because my business teaches survival/tactical first aid courses I have a really great Medical Director and some really good standing orders from him (or her) that allow me to have all the cool toys.

    And though I no longer get paid to ride a "Bus" as an NREMT-P I keep up my skills through CE and the occasional gig as a medic overseas. Our band of Merry Men (and women) is lucky enough to have 2 NREMT-P's, an NREMT, an RN, a PA (who is currently in Med-School), a former 18D, a Combat Lifesaver, and everyone else trained in first aid (to the point they can start an IV or Intubate if needed, except the kids under 10) every adult is a shooter (if TSHTF and needed) and most have combat experience.

    We have taken the time to acquire the skill sets necessary to survive and thrive if the world as we know it goes belly up, it has taken years and lots and lots of training together to build the trust we have in each other to know that if TSHTF we stand a better chance than most of making it through.

    Thanks for your comment!


    Train to Survive!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Awesome kit, I posted my additions answering someone else on the eoi-pen. Sounds like you are pretty well squared with your team's medical preps and in general. I think medical skills is one drastically overlooked part of preparedness . Nice job.

    Dr Duhtomsweet65

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    So you were playing possum with the Wallymart kit. Fascinating.

    I'm wondering if that's really the extent of your prep or if, like the Cong, you've got an underground hospital you just don't want to let on to. I know, if you told me... ;-)

    Anyway. I think that definitely extends your range of survivable injuries. At this point body armor is probably a better bet than trying to build the OR suite and recruiting the surgeon to change gut/box shots into survivable injuries.

    A few suggestions

    1. Tranexamic acid (Read CRASH trial)

    2. Type everyone so you have your mobile blood bank.

    3. A pocket ultrasound is stupid expensive, but can diagnose a huge variety of injuries. Check out sonosite on youtube.

    4. Focus on treating orthopedic injuries since they're

    A) Common

    B) Survivable

    C) Important to treat since loss of function could be catastrophic for your group.

    Good luck.


    3 years ago

    Great kit. I see a lot of suggestions for an epi-pen. As this is an RX item (in the US, anyway) how are people including this in a kit if they do not currently have a life threatening allergy (ditto ciproflaxin)

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    In place of an Rx epi-pen for allergic reactions benadryl can be used, not nearly as effective but will take some allergies down to a manageable level. Also for cipro. You can order fish antibiotics, such as fish mox, fish cillian, and fish flox forte is ciproflaxin. Most have the same numbers as Rx antibiotics. However using fish antibiotics or any antibiotics without a need can cause antibiotic resistant bacterias (mrsa etc.) I wouldn't suggest anyone using them without the knowledge of use. Same naso/oral airways as OP said.
    Great kit. I'm rebuilding my kit now just waiting for my CAT TQ. To arrive. Great ible.
    I have read old AED pads make great cheap chest seals. Currently my chest seals are freezer bag already cut. Another addition I would put in would be trauma/EMT shears and a sharpie for marking on someone who was treated w/ what and also time TQ was applied if used. I have been told by a few medics use caution with celox granules in windy environments, apperently really bad in the eyes and can cause damage. Just a 2nd thought I had. On celox granules over celox gauze or sponge


    3 years ago on Step 7

    I vaccum seal a lot of things in my IFAK, keeps them sterile and dry. Nice article!


    3 years ago

    One thing to note with Quick clot and Celox, if one has Shellfish allergies these products may not be an option. One may get swelling in the treated area to a full on anaphylactic episode. An Epi-pen can be a great addition to a kit like this.

    Doc Honey Badger

    4 years ago

    I'm thinking people are missing the point, this is an IFAK not a trauma bag. This is to get you stable enough to get to the next echelon of care. Not perform field surgery. Also with the right training you can make a tourniquet out of almost anything...

    This is a great all around kit, but as a nurse, I have a few suggestions. One, get rid of the Tylenol and double up on the ibuprofen. Unless its for children, who can't tolerate ibuprofen, or someone has an allergy to it, ibuprofen works so much better. Not just for pain, but also greatly reduces inflammation. I would also recommend a tweezers, which are easily sanitized by boiling in water or wiping down with the sanitizer. Would help with splinters, cleaning small foreign objects out of a wound gently with out further trauma to the surrounding areas. Cortizone, an instant ice pack, and one of my favorite items, Traumeel. Which is a homeopathic cream that actually heals any trauma that isn't an open wound. (It has no odor and a little bit goes a long way so should last a long time. Has a long shelf life as well) Great for sprained ankle, bruising, etc. It is awesome stuff and worth every penny. And a bandage scissors if you don't have anything safe to cut your items as you need them. The best way to clean a wound, if it is deep is with sterile saline, so you could easily make this yourself with the salt you have in your pack with your purified water on hand, when you finally get to a safe place to do proper wound care. Iodine and such like items used to clean wounds aren't being used readily due to their drying out a wound which decreases wound heal. Keep it covered and moist .For surface wounds, plain soap and water adequately cleans these types of wounds. One thing I have learned is that you can buy generic rx anitbiotics in feed stores or stores that sell fish. It is same stuff human use, just labeled for animal use. And you do not need a rx to buy these items. And last but not least, an epi pen, even if no one in your family has documented allergies. It could save someone's life from a severe allergic reaction to an unknown cause. Not of these items take up too much room but could be very beneficial. I know there was something else I thought about, but I can't remember now. :/ But this is a great kit, And I love the super glue mention because it works great on mending wounds without stitching, and far less painful. Oh, just remembered. Everyone in the family should learn CPR, at the very least. This is so useful whether as a survival skill or just in every day life. It is not hard to learn but such a helpful tool which could save someone's life. Hope this helps. And thanks for sharing all your helpful info. It is very much appreciated and I am learning so much. :)


    5 years ago on Step 7

    Again GREAT instructable. Very informative. And I just happened to be restocking my medic kit!

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    Just what I needed!


    I also put a 1qt Zip Lock type bag in the Food Saver (TM) bag to keep things dry if I have to open the vacum bag to get something out. Thanks for the comments!

    Train to Survive!


    I pack it all in a Food Saver (TM) vacum bag with the bigger bulky items towards the bottom and then packing things in the order I may need them (more likely to need a band-aid before an occlusive dressing).


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable, all the essentials plus a personal touch in step 6.
    i would add a one time use poncho for when it rains (as it does much in holland).
    and for me personal some glucose/dextrose pills/powder.

    this would work exceptionaly well with your Survival kit.
    I am a trained volunteer life-saver so i carry a bigger kit on every event, but this is just perfectly sized for the individual. thank you verry much for sharing this!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great Kit, probably going to make it up - with a few things from your survival kit mixed in.