Make your own first-aid kit
Since medical attention is seldom close by when on the water, you should have a marine first-aid kit that is well stocked, up-to-date and at the ready. Stock it with the supplies needed to treat most ailments; injuries on the water come in many forms and degrees of severity, from an embedded fishhook to gaping cuts and broken bones.
If a life-threatening injury occurs, you should first make a mayday call on channel 16 to report the emergency and then call 9-1-1 if cellphone reception is available.
Before assembling your first-aid kit
Start by finding or purchasing a plastic air-tight storage container to keep your first-aid supplies dry. Label the lid “first-aid kit.” If you don’t want to make your first aid kit, there are many options available, at reasonable cost, to purchase a first aid kit.
Next, be prepared. Take a first-aid and CPR course, and remember to the three basics of first aid: restore breathing, stop severe bleeding, and treat shock.
Basic first-aid kit supplies
Stomach remedies to prevent or treat motion sickness (medicine such as Antivert or Bonine), indigestion, diarrhea and heartburn
Antihistamine for allergic reactions
Anti-itch lotion or soothing cream for treating insect bites, sunburn, and other minor skin irritations
Butterfly bandages and narrow adhesive strips to close gaping cuts
Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
Individually wrapped 2-inch and 4-inch sterile gauze pads to control bleeding
Hypoallergenic adhesive tape to hold a dressing or splint in place
Roll of absorbent cotton as padding for a splint or to control bleeding
Sterile roller bandages, at least three rolls in 2- and 3-inch widths to support strained muscles
Eye drops (artificial tears)
Antiseptic ointment, spray or wipes for cleansing wounds
Antibiotic ointment (neomycin, bacitracin) to prevent infection of minor wounds
Pain or fever reducers: high dose aspirin (to chew in case of suspected heart attack), acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen
Clean towels (small and large) to control bleeding or as a wrap for ice
Chemical ice packs if you don’t carry ice on board
Emergency ‘space blanket’ and emergency poncho
A Few More Things to Think About
Always carry at least three the number of bottles of water as there are passengers on board on short trips lasting a few hours. Use sunscreen and reapply as directed. Dress for the weather, hot or cold. And remember, items in the first aid kit are damaged with extreme heat or cold; make the first aid kit part of your ‘go bag’.
The original article first appeared in South Wind, newsletter of Sarasota Power & Sail Squadron/22, authored by Sylvia Wedge.