Freshening the first aid kit

I was geeking around in my computer and needed a tweezers to reposition the jumpers on a hard drive’s dip switch. I raided my dry-bag and opened the first-aid kit thinking there would be tweezers in there. It took some rifling around, but I found the tweezers.

I bought that first aid kit in 2000. I’m thinking there’s stuff in there that probably needs to be replaced. There are some pills, for example, that have probably surpassed the “use by” date.

Where can I find, or what are, guidelines for keeping a first-aid kit fresh.


Whenever in doubt
I go thru mine every year and replace anything i feel needs to be. Band-aids and such seem to be good for about 2 years as long as the kit stays dry and out of the sun. Pills and things like that i store in a black film container and label on the outside when i feel they are no good. Medical tape and that i always store again out of the sun. Hope this helps

A check list with dates.
The time she goes by in the wink of eye.

So I write down the expiration dates (for the medicinal stuff, anyway)on a 3 by 5 index card. Then I place the card right on the top of the stuff in the kit. If I so much as go to get a small bandaid after nicking my finger, I get reminded of what’s starting to loose it’s efficacy. (No point having stuff taking up space if it isn’t going to work when you need it most.)

Next, if you have really nothing to do: Take a look at all the old paper crap inside your wallet!

wallet huh?
Just did and found a condom in there. I think I bought it in 1969.


Use by dates
I stock my kits with OTC meds packaged in the one-dose packets. More expensive than the generic Ibuprofen 500 count, but for such small quantities having a dated pouch is a nice feature.

I once had a cold compress leak and saturate many items in my McCrea-sized kit (that is a compliment Mike!) so I am checking things more often than before.


Since 1969???
Does that meant you haven’t…? Oh Andy, I’m sorry man.

And was it bought new or used in '69?

Expiration/Use-by Dates
I seem to remember hearing that expiration dates on med’s are the point at which they are 90% effective, so no need to toss an Aspirin that will still help your headache.

The same doesn’t apply for your milk.


not cheap
but REI now stocks a first-aid kit refill isle

Mostly the pills are out of date
The kit I have been carrying around for the last seven years is an Adventure Medical Kits, Weekender. Since I had it out, I just rummaged through it. As predicted by above posters, the individual packets of Tylenol and Motrin and an antihistamine called Diphen are all expired, in 2002 and 2003. Timely inspection, eh?

Additionally, several small packets of antibiodic ointment expired in 2002. I didn’t realize that stuff expired. I have several tubes around the house that I am sure must be older than two years. That’s it for the dated stuff.

A number of the 3M comfort strips (band aids) have compromised packaging and are discolored. And I found the discarded wrapping from an extra large bandage–I remember patching up one of my strainer bustin’ colleagues last spring, and I must have just stuffed the wrapper back in the kit afterwards. Easily replaced things.

Missing from the kit is the single item I have used the most, and that is the plastic syringe. For cuts on the river, I have been filling the syringe with a 50/50 solution of water and betadyne, and using that to hose out the wound and area around it. I remember borrowing it from the kit to apply Watco oil into screw holes in wood gunwales of the Chipewan. Three head wounds and two hand wounds patched, zero infections, so either we have been lucky, or the disinfection process works, or maybe both. One head and one hand (neither were mine) happened on extended trips where infection would have been very inconvenient. And that syringe was given up for the Chipewan? What does that say about my values? Well, since then, I picked up a few spare syringes for the shop, and the kit just took back one of them. Hopefully any future patients won’t feel slighted that I am using a West System syringe on them!

Everything else looks serviceable. Hopefully, I will remember to put the tweezers back when I’m done geeking.

Thank you posters, for your thoughts. This was a useful little exercise. Oh, and the kit appears to be just a little defective, because they forgot to put in a condem. Either that or Andy took it. But probably not, since it sounds like its been awhile since he needed one!


replace vinyl/nitrile gloves also
Probably at least once a year. They’ll crack or break if they’re too old.

Oh, yeah…Band-Aids
I have had adhesive bandages dry out while in my vehicle first aid kit too. Worth checking.