The Complete Guide to Making a DIY First Aid Kit

This guide will provide you with guidance in making your own DIY first aid kit. This kind of kit is a great way to build up essential supplies without spending money on products that may or may not meet your needs and tastes.

The “homemade first aid kit list” is a guide to making your own DIY First Aid Kit. It includes items that are easy to find and cheap, as well as some more expensive but worth it items.

Note from the editor: This is a guest post by Charles Patterson, a Marine Corps veteran and paramedic.

If you’ve been reading the Art of Manliness for any length of time, you’ve almost certainly come across at least one article that mentions the necessity for a first aid kit. It has long been established that a first aid kit is an important piece of gear both at home and on the move, whether it was the Altoids tin first aid kit, having a first aid kit in your vehicle, or a list of camping supplies. There are a plethora of pre-built first aid kits on the market, ranging in price from a few dollars for a pack of various Band-Aids and antibiotic ointments to several hundred dollars for high-end specialized kits for the survivalist, tactical, and professional first responder markets, and available everywhere from your local pharmacy to Amazon. 

While you may be able to locate a pre-made kit that meets your requirements, they come with their own set of issues, such as low-quality materials, unneeded components, and a lack of (or bad) organization that makes locating what you need when you need it difficult at best.

It’s sometimes necessary to undertake things on your own. I’ve tried numerous off-the-shelf first aid kits as a paramedic, spouse, and father of five lovely children and found none that met my needs. If you find yourself in this situation, I’ve put together this complete guide to assist you in creating your own practical first aid bag that meets your specific requirements. We’ll go over a few things in this guide to help you narrow down the necessities of your first aid kit, including items I suggest having in any kit, reference kits, and the need of training so you truly know how to utilize your supplies.

Considerations for Your First-Aid Kit in General

The first step in constructing your own kit is to consider what or who you’ll be utilizing it for. A first aid kit for a single guy in the city to carry on visits to the gun range will be significantly different from one kept by a family of six in the country for household emergencies.

Make a risk assessment.

Many individuals find it challenging to evaluate all of the alternatives that must be considered. So, before you go out and purchase medical goods and bags for your first aid kit, do a risk assessment of your life to guide your thinking.

Consider what illness and injury hazards you face in various facets of your life, as well as the amount of risk involved. You may be able to make a rapid mental review here, or you might choose to identify and grade these hazards using your own documented scoring method.

To detect and reduce risk, the military and other organizations, enterprises, and businesses use a variety of methods. Making a few basic lists of your own is one technique you may try. Make a list of all the dangers or threats in your house for yourself, your spouse, your children, or anybody else who lives with you. In the home, examples might range from paper cuts when organizing bills to burns while preparing supper. Do the same thing with your garage, office, automobile, and hobbies.


Once you’ve made a list, give each thing a score from 1 to 5, with 1 being the least probable and 5 being the most likely. When it comes to putting together a first aid kit, the products on your list that scored the highest may be worth considering.

Make the necessary risk assessment if you have a medical condition that might lead to a potentially life-threatening situation. Carrying oral glucose in the case of a low blood sugar (hypoglycemic) episode, for example, may be lifesaving if you or a family member is diabetic. If you have a life-threatening allergy, the same thing should be considered. For you, Benadryl and an Epi-Pen might be the difference between life and death.

This assessment may help you determine the critical parts for your first aid kit, whether you make a rapid mental review of your overall risk or a more extensive and planned written analysis.

Your Kit’s Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

Outside of a standard “What is the risk and how probable is it to occur?” inquiry, there are additional questions to consider while doing a risk analysis. I’ve previously highlighted a few of these concepts, but there are others to consider:

For whom are you constructing it? Do you live alone and are single? Is there a woman in your life? Kids? Do you look after your grandma, who is a senior citizen? Based on your responses, the size and contents of your package will change.

What types of activities do you perform or plan to undertake with this gear, and what medical or trauma risks are you concerned about? Is this a standard first-aid kit or one tailored to your hobbies or profession? If you work at a desk in an office building or in another low-impact, low-risk occupation, your trauma kit may be lacking. You may need supplies for severe injuries such as blood loss, broken bones, and burns if you work in construction, a garage, electrical work, or on an oil rig, for example. Consider supplies to treat gunshot wounds, excessive bleeding, or impaled objects if you’re putting together a kit to go hunting or to the gun range. 

Where do you intend to store this kit? Do you have a pet? Car? Is it better to carry a backpack, a purse, or a bug-out bag? Do you have a garage or a workshop? You can store a bigger first aid kit with more materials in your home or trunk of your vehicle than you can in your glovebox or backpack, and the dangers you and your family must consider at home are different from the risks you and your family must consider when you leave the comfort of your home.

Consider the distance between where you live, work, or play and the closest medical institution, fire station, or EMS station. I reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, in a suburb. A fire station, urgent care center, or hospital are all within 5-10 minutes of where I live and most of the locations I travel. If I or my family have a significant medical or traumatic emergency while going about our daily activities, we will be able to obtain treatment immediately. We don’t have to keep ourselves alive for very long.


As an example of the other end of the spectrum, my brother lives approximately 10 minutes outside of a very tiny town (population: 2,000).

If you’re putting together a bug-out bag kit in case of an apocalyptic catastrophe, you’ll need to be able to care for yourself in the absence of medical assistance. Make the necessary preparations.

First and foremost, why do you need a first-aid kit? Maybe the last time you were wounded, you ended up in the hospital or at an urgent care center for an ailment that might have been treated at home. Or maybe you or a family member has a pre-existing medical condition and needs to be prepared for medical crises related to that illness.

Understanding your personal motives for putting together a first aid pack, whatever they are, can guide you in the right route.

What level of preparedness do you desire? You may make your first aid pack as basic or as complicated as you like. If you want to be ready for the things that are most likely to happen, your kit should only include supplies for the things that worry you. If you want a bag with adequate resources to tackle practically any pre-hospital crisis, this is the bag you get. Although the bag will not fit in your glovebox, it may serve as an excellent “just in case” pack at home.

Putting Together a First Aid Kit Scissor and bandages are displayed in a bag.

Adding “Kit” to “First Aid Kit”

After you’ve decided what you want from your kit, you should think about what sort of pouch/bag/box you’ll use to keep it safe. There are a variety of options for this, ranging from tiny soft-shell zippered bags to bigger tackle or tool boxes, on the market.

When I was making first aid kits for our family, I decided I needed something small enough to fit in the glovebox or center console of our automobiles. This clearly restricted the size I could work with, and I needed something that was both sturdy and flexible. I looked at numerous various solutions from “tactical” equipment firms such as 5.11 Tactical, Maxpedition, Orca Tactical, Condor, and Magpul (a simple online search for “medic pouch” yields an endless number of results). They’ve all designed pouches or cases with robust materials and a variety of zipped compartments, loops, and Velcro closures to create a “medic bag.”

Pouches of first aid kit displayed.

Finally, I decided on 5.11’s 666 Med Pouch, which has only two zipped compartments and worked well for my needs. It comes highly recommended from me.

There are, of course, a plethora of additional options to consider. Galls, a retailer of military, police, fire, and EMS gear, provides a wide selection of high-quality medical bags that are ideal for handmade kits of all kinds, from little kits like mine to bigger EMS-style “jump” bags that can hold everything you’ll ever need (and nothing you won’t).


You won’t have to worry about finding a “first aid” particular box if you want to keep your first aid kit in a tackle or tool box. You should be able to find what you need in the outdoors department of Walmart or most hardware shops.

Consider your organization while putting together your kit. It’s a good idea to have everything organized and labeled so that anybody can open it and locate what they need, particularly if someone is assisting you with your own kit! Band-Aids, butterfly closures, and antibiotic ointment; 44 gauze pads and rolled gauze; triangular bandages with SAM splints, and so on) should be kept together. Consider designating various pockets with concealed contents (Bleeding Control, Band-Aids, etc.) so you or others spend less time rummaging and more time assisting. A few zip-loc bags and/or elastic bands may help you stay organized.

Items for Basic First Aid

Regardless of the kit’s intended use, I feel there are a few essential elements that should be included in almost every kit:

  • Wound cleansing agent: If a little cut becomes infected, it may become a major issue. While soap and water are the best approach to clean wounds and prevent infection, you’re probably not near a sink if you’re using a first aid kit. As a result, even something as basic as antiseptic wipes for small injuries should be included in your pack. A tiny bottle of hydrogen peroxide or Hibiclens are also good additions to a larger first-aid kit. Alcohol wipes or isopropyl alcohol are OK, although they may hurt a lot. Just believe me if you’ve never experienced it before. Antiseptic wipes or hydrogen peroxide are ideal for children. 
  • Band-Aids: If you ask me, this is an obvious option, and this is particularly true if you have children. Band-Aids have “healing power” on little children, as every parent knows. Keep a few of these in your emergency pack. Band-Aids on the knuckles and fingertip get extra points. I’d also go with the fabric Band-Aids, which are more durable and last longer. Consider whether or not it’s waterproof, based on your requirements.
  • Butterfly closures: If you have a severe cut (also known as a laceration or lac for short), you may see the wound gaping wide. Not only does this expose the deeper layers of tissue to infection, but it also has the potential to aggravate the laceration as it pulls. To hold the edges together, use butterfly closures. Then, while you seek medical attention, stop the bleeding using gauze and pressure. It’s possible that you’ll require stitches if you use them.
  • Antibiotic ointment: This might be a tube of Neosporin or individual sachets of antibiotic ointment. In any case, infection prevention is critical.
  • Nitrile exam gloves: When delivering first aid, the primary goal of wearing gloves is to avoid coming into touch with someone else’s blood or other bodily fluids that might hurt you. Blood-borne infections are a genuine and dangerous threat. When it’s your own child, you may not be bothered, but if you’re assisting someone else, don’t allow your nice act limit your life expectancy. You never know what other people are holding around you. And, let’s face it, having other people’s blood or bodily fluids on you is disgusting. A clean pair of gloves to cover your unclean hands may also help to keep your “patient” safe from infection.
  • Gauze: Don’t count on having Kleenex or paper towels on hand to stop the bleeding. For that, you’ll need some gauze. While there are many various kinds of gauze available, the most common are 44 gauze pads and rolled gauze. Place a couple 4x4s on top of a bleeding cut, apply pressure, and get to the nearest emergency room. Gauze that has been tightly rolled may be used as a pressure dressing or just to keep the gauze in place. Don’t let go of the gauze until you’ve applied it and applied pressure to test whether it’s still bleeding. Just hold on tight.
  • Triangular bandages are one of your first aid kit’s most versatile components. A pair of them may be used for anything from slinging and swathing an upper extremity fracture (broken collar bone, broken upper or lower arm) to splinting a foot or ankle fracture by tying a pillow securely around the foot, or even making homemade stiff splints to wrap around a broken leg. If you have a bleed that won’t stop, a triangle bandage may be utilized as a pressure dressing almost everywhere. A handful of them should be included in your first-aid kit.
  • Treatment for burns: Burns may occur anywhere. You must be prepared for a burn if your child touches a hot stove or if you remove the radiator cap on an overheated motor. Stopping the burn — cooling it down in some way — and covering the injured area in sterile gauze/dressing is the basic treatment. I chose basic burn gel packets for my kit, which may be applied on a burn before wrapping it. There are also a variety of sophisticated burn dressings on the market that you may check into to see which one best fits your requirements.
  • Consider keeping a modest supply of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine in your first-aid box. Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, Paracetamol) are effective in reducing fever and relieving discomfort. Ibuprofen also aids in the reduction of inflammation, which might be beneficial in the case of specific accidents. In the event of moderate allergic responses, diphenhydramine (Benadryl) might be utilized (for severe reactions, Benadryl should still be used, but it may not be enough). If you wish to be prepared in the case of a heart attack, have aspirin (Bayer) on hand. Depending on your requirements, this might also involve oral glucose and an Epi-Pen (usually with a prescription). Take note of how much you took and when you took it if you take any drugs. * A short reminder regarding pharmaceuticals: While many over-the-counter treatments are beneficial, you should always see your doctor before taking any medications that have not been prescribed to you. This information is not intended to substitute medical advice; I am not your doctor, and you should not interpret it as medical advice. I’d also advise avoiding giving any medicine, over-the-counter or prescription, to anybody other than yourself and your family. There are several dangers associated with doing so. Interactions between these drugs and certain prescription prescriptions may be detrimental, allergic responses to OTC medications can cause extra injury (up to and including death), and taking too much or too often of any medicine can generate its own set of issues. Before taking any drug, see your doctor, read the warning labels, pay attention to and observe the dose and frequency recommendations, and check the expiry dates. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of this.

My First-Aid Supplies

First aid kit tools displayed.


A list of the contents of my first aid packs may be seen below. If you’re not sure where to start, here is a good place to start. Don’t be scared to change the actual components and amount from what you began with as you put your kit together and utilize it.

As I previously said, the objective of my kit is to address minor issues until I can seek assistance. It isn’t a blowout or severe trauma kit, and it isn’t intended for serious injuries or medical issues. Scrapes and dents, twisted ankles, and other minor injuries are all covered. 

Pair of triangular bandage, gauze pad, tape, a set of nonstick dressings and rolled gauze being presented.

Pocket of Trauma

  • a total of (6) 44 gauze pads (link)
  • (4) nonstick dressings, 3′′x4′′ (link)
  • (2) bandages in a triangular shape (link)
  • (3) 3′′ gauze rolls (link)
  • Surgical tape (1 inch) (link)

Pocket First Aid Kit

  • Fabric Band-Aids (4-6) (link)
  • (2) Band-Aids for the knuckles (link)
  • (2) Band-Aids for fingertip (link)
  • (4) butterfly fasteners (link)
  • (5) sachets of antibiotic ointment (link)
  • (4) antibacterial wipes (link)

(The above things are stored in a snack-size zip-loc bag.)

  • anti-diarrheal loperamide HCI 2mg (link)
  • 2 pack of electrolyte pills (link)
  • 25mg antihistamine (Benadryl) (link)
  • 200mg ibuprofen (2 packages of 2) (link)
  • 500mg acetaminophen (package of 2) (link)
  • antacid 420mg (two-pack) (link)

(Medications are maintained in a zip-loc bag bought as a single pack from REI.) 

  • 3′′ ACE bandage (excellent for wrapping injured ankles, fixing a splint, or applying pressure) (link)
  • 1′′ Coban (self-adhering elastic bandage, useful for buddy taping fractured fingers/toes, anchoring dressings, and other uses) (link)
  • (excellent for minor, difficult-to-bandage injuries) liquid bandage (link)
  • Neosporin 5 oz tube (I use one that also has an anti-itch component) (link)
  • Packet of burnable gel (link)
  • bag of cold compresses (link)
  • the tweezer (link)

Additional Resources

  • nitrile gloves (two pairs) (link)
  • Trauma shears (for removing garments or cutting bandages to fit, or anything else that requires scissors) (link)

Where can you get the above-mentioned items? I’d stay away from drugstores and pharmacies since the items might be of poor quality and pricey. The majority of the goods for my first aid packs were acquired from, as I mentioned before. You may save money by purchasing there in bulk and then putting together additional kits if required. Many goods may be found at WalMart, Amazon (see links above), and REI, among other places.

If you’re on a limited budget, look around for the greatest bargains, but avoid low-quality items. If you’re not confident about the quality, get a little quantity and test it out before buying in bulk. It pays to do your study and shop around for various specific goods like tourniquets, Israeli combat dressings, Quick-clot, and so forth. While there are many decent items and vendors on the market, someone is always attempting to take advantage of survivalists and preparation enthusiasts. Shop wisely.

The Importance of Educating Yourself

Training is more essential than having a first aid kit. If you haven’t been trained to treat yourself or others, all the first aid equipment in the world won’t help you.


While it takes almost little training to clean a cut and apply a Band-Aid, having a rudimentary grasp of anatomy and various types of injuries may make all the difference in how well you handle an accident or medical emergency. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on an EMS certification or join the army to become a battlefield medic. There are several training alternatives available to the “layperson” or ordinary citizen.

CPR, AED, and First Aid training classes are available from organizations such as the American Heart Association and the Red Cross. There are also first aid courses geared on preventing trauma and blood loss that are open to anybody from complete beginners to seasoned medics. If you wish to go any farther, there are courses that will qualify you as a “first responder” or “emergency medical responder,” with certain states even offering a state license or certification. This is known as an Emergency Care Attendant in Texas.

If you can’t discover any local companies or online courses that match your demands, try contacting local hospitals, fire agencies, or police departments. Many of these groups provide community outreach activities, such as CPR and First Aid training. If not, they will at the very least be able to lead you in the correct path. I’ve never seen a Fire Department that was unwilling to answer inquiries or provide assistance to anybody who needed it.

After you’ve assembled your kit, you’ll need to experiment with the stuff you have (another reason why purchasing goods in bulk is advantageous!). If you don’t know how to accomplish anything, knowing what to do is useless. Get outside and practice evaluating, bandaging, splinting, and other procedures. Teach your spouse and/or kid how to utilize the items of your first aid box if they are old enough. Not only will they be able to help themselves, but they will also be able to assist you if you wind up being the patient.

Sorry, but action flicks and medical dramas do not qualify as training. If someone stops breathing, please don’t stab them in the neck with a ballpoint pen.

Notes at the End

I hope you found this information useful in putting together your own first-aid pack! As we get to the end of this, here are a few additional things to think about:

  • When in doubt, contact 911 or go to the hospital. A first-aid kit isn’t enough to provide complete treatment. It may help stabilize an injury or sickness momentarily, but it’s called FIRST aid for a reason. When you’re out of your depth, you’ll know it’s time to seek help. It’s possible that your first aid kit will be useless at times. When you should be phoning for assistance, don’t spend time going through your equipment.
  • In your kit or wallet, maintain a list of health-related facts about yourself or your family. If you use prescription drugs on a daily basis, have a major medical or surgical history, or have allergies, this is very crucial. This list might be useful if you become disabled and no one else knows your personal information. It’s also useful if you have a lot of prescriptions and can’t remember them all when you go to the ER. As a paramedic, I always appreciate it when a patient provides me with a list so that I may rapidly review essential facts while caring for them. I’d suggest providing the following details:
    • Date of birth and full name
    • Dimensions and weight (Weight is particularly essential since many drugs are dosed according to body weight.)
    • Information about your emergency contacts, including your relationship (you should have numerous emergency contacts; merely identifying your wife, for example, won’t assist if you and your wife are both disabled in a vehicle accident).
    • Type of blood
    • List of prescription drugs, their dosages (mg, mcg, etc. ), when they’re taken (once a day, twice a day, as required, etc. ), and why they’re taken (pain, diabetes, depression, etc. ); Include any over-the-counter drugs (such as a daily baby aspirin) and supplements/vitamins you use on a regular basis.
    • Make a list of all of your allergies (bee stings, medicine allergies, food allergies) and how you respond to them (rash, shortness of breath, etc.)
    • a list of all current and former medical problems (high blood pressure, diabetes, previous heart attacks or strokes)
    • Previous surgeries or significant procedures (such as coronary artery stents) with approximate dates (month and year). If all of these bullet points apply to you, this may seem like a large list, but the information is very useful to emergency responders and ER personnel. All of this may be printed in a tiny enough font to be folded and stored in your wallet or first aid pack. 
  • I would advise you to avoid carrying or using anything you don’t understand or know how to utilize correctly (unless it really is the apocalypse; then you do you, boo). Keep in mind that first aid and advanced life support are not the same thing. Without the proper training and certification, initiating treatment outside of the conventional first-aid scope of a layman might result in greater harm and death, as well as expose you to legal action. That is something that no one desires.
  • Last but not least, don’t restrict yourself to one first-aid kit! It’s simple to construct a few more to cover all your bases after you’ve made one, particularly if you purchased any of your components in bulk. Having many kits stashed in various areas will only strengthen your readiness and antifragility. 

Last but not least, don’t restrict yourself to one first-aid kit! It’s simple to construct a few more to cover all your bases after you’ve made one, particularly if you purchased any of your components in bulk. Having many kits stashed in various areas will only strengthen your readiness and antifragility.


Charles Patterson is the father of five gorgeous children and the spouse of a lovely woman. Charles discovered his real calling as a paramedic after serving in the Marine Corps as a linguist and receiving a degree in Music Production following his release. He likes cycling, mountain biking, shooting firearms, frisbee golf with his family, and playing guitar when the job and duties are done.



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