Camping Guide: First Aid Kits

By Lara Meter

Whether you are caravanning, camping, or tackling a 4×4 trial, there is one thing you have to have with you… and no, we’re not talking about the braai grid.

What we are referring to is something that many people often forget, and only realise that they need when it’s too late. The item that we are talking about is a first aid kit.

Whether you are at home or on the move, a small injury can sometimes have very serious consequences. And, whether it’s the scraped knee of one of the kids who has fallen while riding a bicycle in the resort, or something more serious while you are out hiking, it is best always to be prepared.

Some emergencies require medical attention, but for the less severe injuries, immediate first-aid treatment minimises the immediate danger.

A few minutes spent taking care of an injury with the contents of a first-aid kit can save you a trip to the emergency room.

So, make sure that you have everything you need in case that accident happens while you are camping or driving across country, or a natural disaster hits.


• Bandages (assorted sizes)
• Closure strips: For use as temporary wound-stitching until you see a professional
• Sterile dressing pads: To apply pressure to open wounds and to stop bleeding
• Non-adherent sterile dressing: To cover blisters, burns or lacerations
• Gauze rolls: To hold dressings in place and to absorb any excess blood
• Adhesive tape: To tape dressings in place
• Small utility toolkit: Make sure that it includes a knife, scissors and tweezers
• Safety pins: These can help remove splinters, fasten arm slings, etc.
• Antiseptic ointment: To help clean wounds and keep them from becoming infected
• Cotton swabs: For removing foreign objects from eyes or ears, or for applying ointment
• Burn dressing: In case of fire accidents
• Painkillers: Including aspirin and ibuprofen. For relief of pain, fever and inflammation
• Latex gloves: For wearing while dressing wounds to avoid infection
• Rehydration packets: In case of severe dehydration.


Travelling with a caravan means that you have space to pack a more elaborate and complete first-aid kit. This is essential if you are going to be on the road for a long period of time, or if you are going to fairly remote areas where medical care may be scarce or hard to come by.

This first aid kit should hold everything that your basic kit would carry, as well as the following:

• A thermometer: Tracking the temperature, particularly of a child, is important if there is no doctor or hospital nearby.
• An antiseptic solution: Such as Dettol or Savlon, to clean and flush wounds.
• Antihistamines: For relief of pollen allergies, or to reduce reactions to bites and stings.
• Imodium: For relief of diarrhoea or intestinal infections.
• Laxatives: To help with intestinal problems.
• Antacid tablets: For abdominal relief.
• A splint: For a broken bone that needs to be kept in place until the patient can be taken to a medical professional for a cast.
• A Space blanket: A light-weight emergency blanket for treating hypothermia.
• Eye pads: To clean and protect hurt eyes.
• Sterile burn dressings: To treat any burn that occurs in the bush.
• Water purification tablets
• Gloves, scissors, tweezers and safety-pins
• Mosquito repellent
• Separate antibiotic courses: For serious chest and stomach infections.


Hiking First Aid Kit


It is essential to carry a first-aid kit in your hiking backpack, especially for those overnight trips.

It is wise to waterproof your kit before the hike, as you never know when it may rain or whether you may have to make a river crossing. Re-sealable bags and plastic bottles work well. Remember to label your medications to avoid becoming confused. Things to pack with your hiking first-aid kit include everything in the basic list, as well as smaller items such as a roll of duct tape, lip-ice, sunscreen, and insect repellent.



Pet First Aid Kit


Just as important as having a first aid kit for your family is keeping one handy for your “best friend”.

These are the essentials to have with you if you are travelling or hiking with your beloved pet.

• Paperwork: Vaccination & medical records, and any emergency phone numbers. Keep photocopies of these records with you.
• Antibiotic Ointment: Like humans, animals may cut or scratch themselves and require antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and relieve pain.
• Hydrogen Peroxide: If your pet ingests something toxic when out on that hike, you can use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Check with your vet to ensure that you know the correct dosage and proper procedure before attempting this.

• Gauze, scissors, tape, and rubber gloves: This may seem obvious, but it is important to have medical supplies such as gauze to soak up any blood, as well as scissors and tape for securing a temporary brace or bandage, and rubber gloves to ensure that you do not carry an infection to the open wound.
• A towel or blanket: If your pet is injured or beginning to panic, wrapping it gently in a soft blanket or towel may help to calm it down. These can also be used to cover an open wound.
• Medications: Speak to your vet about any back-up or useful medication to have in your first-aid kit. Things to have handy are diarrhoea pills, flea/ tick meds, and approved sedatives.
• Bottled water & food/treats: Be sure ALWAYS to keep a bottle of water available. It is also wise to keep an emergency supply of food or treats.
• Collapsible or plastic food and water bowls: Light-weight and durable food and water bowls are a must when camping with your pet.
• Extra leash, collar and poop bags: If your pet becomes sick, he or she may go through more poop bags than you thought possible. An extra leash or collar is great in case you lose or snap one of these items in an accident.

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