The second installment in the commuting by bike series is going to go over how to pack and prepare one of the most important essentials: the mobile first aid kit.
We’ve all done it, whether it’s been skinning a knee, slamming our fingers in the door, or taking a digger during a sharp turn. Injuries large and small happen to all of us; and one of the key things you learn when in the medical world is that the speed one recovers post injury is greatly influenced by the amount of time that passes between the initial insult of the body and beginning treatment. With that said one of the best ways to make sure you bounce back from any setback is to be prepared, and even though you may never encounter an incident on the road you’ll be ready for anything minor that may happen at the workplace or while you’re out on other adventures in life.
Basic First Aid Kits
The question here is, "What should I look for in a basic kit that will allow me to cover the essentials?" I'm sure everyone has walked by them in the stores, seen them handed out during some kind of festival, and even may have one laying around the house somewhere. Either way it's time to crack them open and checkout the insides. Usually the cheap or free ones contain two to three bandage strips, a cleaning wipe, and maybe some triple antibiotic ointment inside a hard case while the expensive ones have far more than a person could ever bring with them on the road.
Keep it Simple
What we want to do is take the bits and pieces from both ends and come up with an ideal foundation to build off of. For me I started with the following:
- One or two pads of sterile gauze
- An assortment of band aids:
-(2)Standard bandage strips
- Self-adhering elastic wrap
- Alcohol or Iodine Prep Pads
- Pain relief medication
- Multiple single use ointments:
-Anti-bacterial ointment (neosporin)
Keep it Safe
As far as containing your essentials you typically want something you can attach under your seat or throw in your bag and forget about until it’s needed. It should be lightweight, waterproof, and be able to hold all the essentials. In a pinch you can always just use multiple Ziploc bags and be on your way!
Shopping for Kits
If you're looking for the bare essentials and don't have a kit at home I would recommend taking a trip down to the local pharmacy and stocking up, however the following three sites will typically give you the most for your money on basic kits and include a case:
Personalize Your Kit
While the premade kits offer a nice backbone to build off, it is beneficial to personalize your pack to fit your needs for several reasons:
- Extra/emergency medication will be available to you.
- You can include items that will readily identify who you are and what to do in the case of an emergency.
- Increase overall preparedness for any medical event pertaining to known conditions.
If you'd like to go above and beyond, here are some common MacGyver items to include which can make a huge difference in what you can make your kit do:
- A small roll of duct tape (wrapped around an old hotel key)
- Fine tipped sharpie or a pen
- Glow stick
- Examination gloves
- Epipen (bee allergy? This will save your life)
- Diphenhydramine (Benedryl)
- Emergency Fuel (electrolyte replenishment, Powerbar, or Gu Pack)
- Instant cold pack
- Card with insurance info and hospital transportation preference
Other Things to Consider
"Just because you are prepared does not mean you are qualified to help others."
The best way to avoid accidents while on the road is BE AWARE. Not only does this apply to cyclists but also the cars on the road. Always wear a helmet, wear reflective materials, and obey the rules of the road.
Just because you are prepared does not mean you are qualified to help others. If you are interested in learning about injury care and how to properly administer First Aid I highly recommend taking a class with the American Red Cross. There are obviously other online certifications available as well but you really should attend an actual hands-on session. Additionally, if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation where medical attention is needed, call 911. The importance of time cannot be stressed enough in commuter accidents, and calling 911* to get a response team on the scene is extremely important whether further treatment is needed or not.
*Note- Calling 911 and having a team brought to the scene is free, you will be billed if treated and/or receive transport to a hospital.
Photos by Joseph Skeate