Lifestyle

Your essential first aid kit for camping and caravanning - don't be caught out

A sprained ankle is one of the most common hiking injuries. To prevent a sprain, wear proper footwear, use trekking poles for stability, watch your step, and avoid uneven terrain and obstacles.

If you love exploring Australia's great outdoors then being prepared for common first aid mishaps is crucial. Check your first aid kit against our checklist before your next holiday to prevent accidents from graduating to full blown disasters.

By Carolyn Tate

Camping and caravanning in Australia's great outdoors is an exciting adventure. Think beaches, relaxed towns, hidden gems, and the wide open road – but our land can also be unforgiving at times.

The last thing anyone wants is to be caught out by being unprepared for some of the common first aid events that might pop up.

Whether it’s stings, bumps, or bites, having a well-stocked first aid kit may not be able to prevent an undesirable illness or injury, but it can help you to deal with it and keep everyone as healthy as possible, so you can get on with enjoying your adventure.

What does a good first aid kit need for camping and caravanning in Australia? Check yours off against our checklist before you head off on your next trip. And don’t forget to customise this list if you have any specific medical needs.

Band-aids or adhesive bandages (various sizes)

Make sure your first aid kit has a selection of Band-aids or adhesive bandages, including regular and larger sizes. These bandages are must-haves for treating minor cuts, blisters, and grazes that you might collect during your trip. Whether you accidentally nick yourself while preparing a delicious camp dinner, or you catch a small scrape while hiking in the bush, adhesive bandages can provide quick and effective wound care, ensuring you can continue to enjoy your adventure without discomfort.

Sterile gauze pads and adhesive tape

Pack sterile gauze pads and adhesive tape alongside your Band-aids. They’re a necessity for covering and protecting larger wounds or injuries, which can happen from time to time. Having sterile gauze and tape on hand allows you to properly dress and safeguard a larger wound, preventing infection and promoting healing.

Antiseptic wipes or solution

Antiseptic wipes or solution, such as Dettol, are vital for cleaning and disinfecting wounds, reducing the risk of infection. If anyone suffers a cut or scrape, whether it's minor or something more substantial, antiseptic wipes or solution are your best bet in preventing infection. And prevention is always better than a cure.

Tweezers

Tweezers with fine-tipped ends should always be in your kit. They’re invaluable for removing splinters, bee stings, or other foreign objects that may become embedded in your skin. Follow with antiseptic wipe or solution and cover with an adhesive bandage to ensure you avoid infection here too.

Scissors

A small pair of sharp scissors is handy for cutting tape, gauze, clothing, or other materials as needed during first aid procedures. Whether you need to trim gauze to fit a wound or remove clothing to access an injury, scissors ensure you can perform these tasks safely and efficiently.

Disposable gloves

Disposable gloves are a must for maintaining proper hygiene and protecting yourself and the person you’re treating while providing first aid. Wear gloves whenever you're handling wounds, applying ointments, or helping others. If you have a vulnerable immune system, disposable gloves are especially helpful in ensuring a hygienic and safe first aid process.

Pain relief (for example, paracetamol or ibuprofen)

Over-the-counter pain relief medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen can help you feel better after if you have minor aches, pains, and headaches that may arise during your trip. Whether you're dealing with a headache from too much sun or a back ache from that deflating camp mattress, these medications can help you manage your pain and stay comfortable in the short term (but if symptoms persist, you should see a doctor, and perhaps get a new mattress!).

First aid manual

Make sure your first aid kit has a comprehensive first aid manual or guidebook, so you can look up any unfamiliar concerns or issues that arise. Whether you're dealing with minor injuries or more complex medical emergencies, having a reliable reference on hand means you can follow proper first aid procedures with confidence, even in the most remote of areas.

Tip: Medical advice and procedures can change from time to time as medical knowledge grows, so update your manual every one to three years so you can be confident your knowledge is current.

Instant cold packs

Single-use instant cold packs that activate when you squeeze them are excellent for reducing swelling and relieving pain caused by injuries like sprains or bruises. These packs can be invaluable, especially when you’re in a remote location without access to ice.

Emergency blanket

A compact, reflective emergency blanket should be in your kit to help maintain body temperature in extreme weather conditions. Whether you end up in the middle of an unanticipated cold snap or you find yourself in an emergency situation like spending a long time in the water, an emergency blanket can provide life-saving warmth and protection.

Insect repellent

Insect repellent spray or lotion is essential in Australia for protecting against insect bites and stings. Whether you're relaxing by the campfire or exploring the wilderness, applying insect repellent keeps pesky bugs at bay, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor activities without discomfort. It can also help to prevent mosquito-borne viruses such as Ross River fever and Dengue fever.

Antihistamines and/or other allergy medications

Over-the-counter allergy medications like antihistamines should be part of your kit to help get on top of allergic reactions or symptoms quickly if they crop up. Whether you have known allergies or encounter unexpected allergens in a new environment, these medications can help ditch the discomfort and irritation, and ensure you continue to enjoy your camping experience.

EpiPen (if prescribed)

An EpiPen is an allergy medication too, but it deserves its own heading because it’s important if you have an anaphylactic reaction to any allergen. If you have a known severe allergy, and you’ve been diagnosed with anEpiPen, you should always check that you have a couple in your kit, and that they have not expired, before your trip.

CPR face shield or pocket mask

A CPR face shield or pocket mask is vital component for performing CPR safely and effectively, especially if you’re administering CPR on someone you don’t know. The mask helps protect both the person providing assistance and the person receiving it, and allows you to focus on the emergency task at hand.

Snake bite kit

For camping in snake-prone areas (hint: all of Australia), a snake bite kit that includes a bandage and instructions could save a life. If someone does get bitten, use the bandage to apply pressure to the affected limb and seek urgent medical attention. Never assume a snake is harmless, and take a photo of the snake if you can, for easy identification and treatment.

Freeze spray for ticks

Current advice is never to remove a live tick with tweezers because it will release more toxins into your body. Instead, use a tick freeze spray, which you can buy from pharmacies, to immobilise the tick before safely removing it from the skin.

Hearing aid batteries and maintenance kit (if applicable)

If you use hearing aids, don't forget to include spare hearing aid batteries and a maintenance kit in your first aid kit, just in case anything goes wrong while you’re travelling. They can be handy, especially in remote areas where you may struggle to find a replacement or service. 

Prescription medications

If you have prescription medications you take regularly, don’t forget to add them to your kit before you leave home. It’s crucial to adhere to your usual medication regimen so you can fully enjoy your trip without any threats to your health.

Prescribed medication list

Carry a list of your current prescribed medications in your first aid kit, just in case you need to provide the details to a healthcare professional in an emergency. Be sure to update the list before each trip to ensure it’s up-to-date.

Personalised medical information

Along with your current medications, create a card or document that has a summary of your medical history and next of kin contact details in case of emergencies.

Need to pick up some of the things on this list before your next camping trip? Order online and avoid the hassle.

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