Our not-so-usable first aid kit.

A couple weeks ago I was unfortunate enough to have to make use of our first aid kit that I had put on the boat fairly close to when we bought it several years ago. I found several issues with the kit and now we need to figure out how to fix them. This is the box I picked to house the kit, I think we have the medium size. I can remember that there wasn’t a large selection of waterproof boxes to choose from and that one seemed to be the best I could find at the time. (There might have been a gift card involved which is what determined the store choice) The box does fit under the sink in the head very well, which was where i put it originally.  It’s secure down there, and while it does take up needed storage room, it’s such an important item it doesn’t matter. But it is fairly difficult to get to if you have no idea how those doors open (non-boating visitors) or if you are flustered because you just took a chunk out of your thumb and are bleeding all over the place. Not that clumsy me would ever do that…

After that small mishap, I took a step back (a small one because our head is tiny) and decided that having the kit under the sink wasn’t going to work for me. So I looked to see where I could put it that was out of the way yet still visible. This is what I decided on.


I didn’t have anything in that space because it’s an awkward space and I didn’t know how to fill it. The box fits nicely and doesn’t move that much. I might have to strap it down when we are offshore but for now it’s fine. So now the kit is in a better location and accessible to any accident prone people on board.

The next thing was that I had a very difficult time finding what I needed when I was flustered (and bleeding). All the items in the kit are stored in plastic baggies that I labeled (thinking that the labels would be helpful in an emergency). Well, actually, they weren’t. Here is what it looks like, and it’s a mess.


So I turned to my trusty friend Google to see what other sailboat owners stocked in their kits. Within the first 10 pages I found: Lahowind, who also had an Endeavour 37; a blog by Kelly Watts on Women and Cruising; SailingChance has a nicely stocked kit; a short blog reminding us to update our kits on Sailboatreboot  and Alayne Main who wrote Sailing Promise has an extensive first aid kit, although she was doing a circumnavigation and I don’t think we need that much in ours (yet). Oddly enough The Boat Galley didn’t come up in my search, maybe I was using the wrong key words. So I searched her site and found that they have three first aid kits! I like this idea, but since we are several years from leaving, I think three would be a bit too much. I might move the ‘I’m Ill’ items into a different box and put it back under the sink. That stuff doesn’t need to be in the main First Aid Kit, which I consider to be more for emergencies and serious injuries. After thinking about it for awhile, I bought this lock & lock lunch box to store under the sink. It has separate watertight boxes for medicines and if it doesn’t work out for that, well, it’s a lock & lock and I can use it for something else.

Looking online at some pre-made kits to see what they contain, the Marine Medical Adventure Kit 3000 looks like it has everything I need. And it is crazy expensive. It has six separate labeled sections; Bleeding, Medications, Burns, Dental/Suture, CPR, Wound Care and Fracture/Sprains. Going down to the 400, there are only four sections; Stop Bleeding/Shock, Fractures/Sprains, Wound Care and Medications/Stings. Six sections seems a lot to me, I think three is more manageable with the space I have. I think I am going to put the medications and commonly used creams (aloe vera) under the sink and that would leave two separate sections. I think I will combine them into Burns/Wounds/Sutures and Fractures/Sprains. I found these packing cubes that look like they will work inside the first aid box to separate the items into sections. I can fit two inside the box and they have handles for clumsy people to grab when they are flustered. I really like them, they are lightweight and I think if something spills they will dry fast. They aren’t waterproof, but have mesh panels so items inside hopefully won’t mold.

So what to put in my home-made kit? I found these three sites with extensive lists and advice: Boating Magazine, First Aid Anywhere and Practical Sailor. I cut and pasted their suggestions and combined them into a single list.

First Aid Kit recommended items:


-Stomach medicines to prevent or treat motion sickness, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea and constipation *I have these, or I will have as soon as I replace the expired meds (replaced)

-Antihistamine for allergic reactions *my benadryl was also expired, when did I stock this thing? (replaced)

-Pain/fever reducers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, Tylenol or naproxin *expired (replaced)

-Syrup of Ipecac, to induce vomiting *I don’t think I will stock this


-Aloe Vera gel (Sunburn relief) *I have this is gel and spray

-Anti-itch lotion/cream for insect bites and minor skin irritations * I have this, some home-made and some store bought

-Antiseptic  gel, spray, wipes and/or swabs for cleansing wounds or stings *I have several types

-Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection * I have this, and it’s not expired!

-Cold Sore cream * I don’t think I will stock this


-Band aids *I have plenty of these

-Butterfly bandages and steri-strips  *Need to buy these (purchased)

-Individually wrapped, sterile gauze pads  *I have a bag of regular but not sterile

-Adhesive tape to hold dressing or splint in place  *I have this

-Roll of absorbent cotton gauze  * I have this

-Cotton tipped swabs  *I will have to add these (added)

-Triangular bandages for slings, padding and strapping limbs when fractures are suspected  *I had to google this, need to buy some (purchased)

-Sterile roller bandages for supporting strained muscles  * Have these, need to add (added)

-Elastic/Crepe bandages  *Have these, need to add (added)

Extra Items:

-Eye drops *Have this

-Thermometer *Have this

-Chemical ice pack *Need to purchase (added)

-Tweezers  *I have this

-Vinyl (non allergic gloves) *I have these

-Curved scissors *I need to buy this (purchased)

-CPR mask *I am not CPR certified, I need to look into this (not adding)

-Aluminum/Foam splints *I need to buy these (purchased)

-Finger splints (or tongue depressors) *Would chopsticks work? (added chopsticks)

-Petroleum jelly *I have this at home and never use it, not stocking

-Safety Pins *Need to add these (added)

Extra items that are recommended but won’t fit in the kit:

-Bottled water to rinse wound

-Clean towel

-Emergency phone numbers (although not sure how I would know these if we were outside US)

-First Aid Handbook/guide *I had to buy one

-Waterproof or Duck tape

-Mobile phone

-Marine band radio

-Emergency  Flares

-Extra pair prescription glasses

-Sunblock, SPF 15 or higher

-Insect repellent

There were a couple of things that I didn’t find on those lists that I thought I might need, I added smelling capsules (in case I faint) and wound powder. I almost bought a suture kit but the thought of that makes me queasy so I didn’t. I also added a magnifying glass. Now to fit it all in the kit!


Here is all the stuff put into the pouches.


All loaded up:


This box has a narrow compartment on the outside that I put a flashlight with extra batteries and a lighter in. That way, even if it’s dark, you should have some light.


All done! I can’t believe how much stuff I fit in there!


Here is the everyday ‘I’m ill’ kit with all it’s parts. It fits under the sink and the only problem I can see us that it doesn’t look like it holds medicine, so guests might not recognize it as such. (But that might be a good thing for young visitors)


Ok, we are all set in case there is another emergency on board. Lets hope that doesn’t happen soon though!










Sailboat First Aid Kit
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