When you’re up at the cabin, there’s always a chance someone will get hurt.
Injuries aren’t always avoidable. Being at the cabin and doing outdoor activities can even make the risk of injury even higher than when you’re at home. That’s why, when I go up to the cabin I always like to make sure I have all the tools and materials I need to perform first aid in the event of an injury. Plus, I like to keep some over-the-counter medication around in case of sickness or allergic reactions. This article is meant to be a complete guide to assembling a thorough first aid kit for your cabin. But before we get to the list, let’s talk about why we need the things on this list.
Getting to a Hospital can take a While
Most cabins are in somewhat remote locations. They’re away from the city. There’s a reason for that. We go to the cabin to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. But that also means that a good hospital may be a long drive from the cabin. If someone is hurt, calling an ambulance could take a long time, even hours. And driving yourself down to a hospital could also take way too long.
That’s why it’s important to have a thorough first aid kit. If someone is bleeding heavily, you can apply bandages and pressure to slow it down or stop it on the way to a hospital. If someone has a violent allergic reaction, an epipen or even some Benadryl could save their life while you get them to a doctor.
Many cabins are near small towns and they may have a doctor or some kind of urgent care facility. But many small recreational towns don’t have an emergency room with 24/7 staffing. Even if there is a local doctor on call you may have to way to get the doctor out of bed and to the office.
In an emergency, you should definitely seek proper medical care. But having some first aid tools, materials, and knowledge could save someone’s life.
This isn’t Backpacking, you can be a little Over-Prepared
We’re talking about a first aid kit for the cabin. It’s worth it to designate a little space for this so you can store a complete and thorough kit.
If we were going backpacking, we would need to prioritize only the essentials. Even if we’re going camping we’re limited by the space in the car. But we’re talking about the cabin and it’s worth it to make sure you are over-prepared for potential emergencies as well as for small injuries.
Common Injuries at the Cabin
In my experience, the most common injuries you’ll see at the cabin are the small ones. Little cuts, bruises, twisted ankles, etc. You’re also likely so get some bug bites. However, it’s also not uncommon to see more serious injuries, especially from trips and falls. These can be much more serious and include head injuries, broken bones, deep cuts, and the like.
We also see conditions related to the heat and cold. Heat exhaustion, sunburn, frostbite, and hypothermia are just some fairly common conditions that occur when we’re spending time outdoors. You need to know what to do in each of these cases and have the materials and tools handy to give first aid. In the case of these more serious injuries, that first aid should be given either right before or during the drive to the hospital.
The Complete Checklist
Unless you’re a medical doctor, and maybe even then, it’s probably a good idea to have good first aid instructions handy when you’re up at your cabin. This manual on Amazon is really inexpensive and is the American College of Emergency Physicians first aid manual. I would buy a copy for the cabin that you leave there with your first aid kit.
The following checklist is what the American Red Cross recommends to have in a first aid kit for a family of 4. Depending on the size of your family (or the number of people usually at your cabin at one time) you’ll want to scale this up or down.
- 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
- 25 adhesive bandages (band-aids) of assorted sizes
- 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approx. 1 gram)
- 5 antiseptic wipe packets
- 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
- 1 blanket (space blanket)
- 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
- 1 instant cold compress
- 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approx 1 gram each)
- 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
- 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
- Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
- 2 triangular bandages
- First aid instruction booklet
I see this list as the bare minimum. Small packets of antiseptic can be handy for 1-time use right when you need it, but I prefer to just keep a tube of it in my kit. Likewise, antiseptic wipes are nice but I keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide around with cotton balls, q-tips, and sterile dry wipes.
So here are some additions and modifications that I keep in my kit that make it complete for my cabin.
- I just keep a full box of band-aids rather than counting out 25. But again, 25 is a good minimum to use as a restocking point. We use these all the time for small cuts and scrapes so we go through them somewhat quickly.
- Butterfly band-aids (good for holding deeper cuts closed)
- A tube of Neosporin or generic triple antibiotic ointment
- A bottle of Rubbing Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide as well as cotton balls, q-tips, and paper towel or dry wipes
- A box of non-latex gloves
- A tube of hydrocortisone cream. This will really come in handy for mosquito and other itchy bug bites as well as allergic reactions to plants.
- Other bandages as outlined above
- A bottle of Aspirin
- A bottle of Ibuprofen or Naproxen Sodium. This is an NSAID pain reliever which means it helps keep swelling down. If I ever have a joint injury I always take one or the other of these medications in addition to using an ice pack or cold compress on the joint.
- A bottle of Acetaminophen (Tylenol). This helps reduce fevers and relieve pain and since it’s a different type of medication from the NSAIDs, it can be used in conjunction with them. You can take a Tylenol and later take an Ibuprofen even though not enough time has passed to take another Tylenol.
- A bottle of Benadryl
- An Epipen if anyone in your family has a history of severe allergies
- Aloe Vera gel for burns
- Finger splints. If you jam or break a finger, you’ll be glad you have these.
- Joint braces. I especially like to keep an ankle brace around since I’m prone to ankle rolls and sprains. Knee braces are good for those who have occasional knee problems. An arm sling is nice in case of a shoulder or arm injury. These will allow you to keep moving after an injury so you can get to a hospital and get real treatment.
- Duct Tape. I’m serious. I have had to tape a cut closed to stop the bleeding and prevent infection while on the way to a doctor.
- Crutches. If you have room in a closet, having a pair of crutches handy at the cabin can really help after a rolled ankle or other leg or foot injury.
- A Tote for Organizing. Some people keep their first aid kit in a backpack or box. I like to use a tote with dividers in it so I can keep everything together and organized. These types of totes that are well portioned for first aid kits can be hard to find. So my next favorite option is to use several smaller totes that I just store together on a shelf or in a box or tote in a closet.