are numerous pre-packaged kits available
commercially which have been put together with expert medical
These will often contain more
than half the stuff you
will ever need and most are worth investing in.
However, if you are like me,
most of the time the first
aid required is simply a sticky band aid to stop the bleeding from a
This is not the time to be
rummaging among all those
bandages, eye wash, field dressings etc.
So the first line of defense
should be a waterproof, easy
to open container with the basics for treating those every day scrapes
And this is equally important
in the workshop.
Of course no kit is of any use
if you have left it at
home or forgotten to restock it, put it on your logbook
And add to you passage
specific medical needs of any of your crew members.
"There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity." (Thomas Gibbons)
For those times when you don't have time
open the first
Prevention is better than any cure, so keep a tube of
antibiotic ointment out and handy, next to the sink or wash hand basin.
Then when you wash your hands, you can dab a bit on any cuts
and scrapes to prevent them becoming infected.
And don't forget that fix-all, good ol' duct tape.
Most boaters have at least one roll handy, it's easy to rip
off a strip to staunch the blood until you can get to the first aid kit
and deal with the cut properly, better than getting blood on that nice
And it will stick better than proper band-aids on wet hands.
“She found out that having something to do prevented you from feeling seasick, and that even a job like scrubbing a deck could be satisfying, if it was done in a seamanlike way.
She was very taken with this notion, and later on she folded the blankets on her bunk in a seamanlike way, and put her possessions in the closet in a seamanlike way, and used 'stow' instead of 'tidy' for the process of doing so.
After two days at sea, Lyra decided that this was the life for her.” (Philip Pullman)
I hope I'm not
giving the impression that you should carry vast amounts of marine
kits for every eventuality.
For the average boater with
little medical knowledge
there is no point carrying anything complicated, even with medical
real emergencies will usually require outside assistance.
This is especially true when
boating in home waters where
nearby friends or family can summon assistance within minutes or
rescue services can be called by radio or even phone.
It is a good idea to carry a
marine first aid medical
emergency reference book on board, as much for the first aider's
reassurance as for the patient.
The vast majority of boating
trips pass off without
anything remotely approaching an emergency.
However, it is not uncommon
for a trip to be ruined
because one or other crew member is suffering from something minor such
bites, sun burn, or diarrhoea.
The idea of the 'local kit' is
enough to treat those common on board health problems as well as some
Gauze Roll, Gauze Pads, band aids, a few safety pins and another small
I am neither a pharmacist
nor medical doctor so I
have no intention of recommending products, besides everyone has their
I can suggest is that you carry some off the shelf
products of the kind which are unlikely to produce side effects.
Some pain killers, some of
which also and reduce fever
and an anti-inflammatory product.
Perhaps an antihistamine
An anti-diarrhea medicine.
Sun screen, it is
surprising how easily it is to get
badly burnt while out on the water.
Some more antiseptic wipes
one of those temperature strips
will help determine if it really is a fever and how bad.
Butterfly bandages for closing a deep cut without stitches.
They look like bow ties, sticky tabs with a narrow middle available at
Or you can make your own from a strip of first aid tape (or good 'ol
Simply cut a notch from either side of the middle of the strip and then
twist it a few times so that there is a narrow, twisted bit in the
Hopefully, you'll never have
to open this marine first aid kit but the
point is to deal with the non-emergency problems that don't require
immediate medical assistance.
Many of these minor problems
can spoil a trip yet are
relatively easy to deal with using everyday medicines, but only if you
them with you.
If you are intending to
travel to 'exotic' destinations it is worth finding out all you can
about local medical facilities before you start stocking up with a
There are many cruising
destinations, where until only a
few years ago medical facilities ranged between non-existent and
which have now improved enormously, though it might be advisable say,
your own hypodermic needles.
Check out all the most up to
date cruising blogs for
first hand information and of course your own national tourist
For the long distance cruiser
today, the main time for
concern is when in mid ocean.
This is where your best marine
first aid kit could be
your long range communication equipment.
Advances in satellite
communications means that someone
with an emergency situation in mid ocean can talk to their own doctor
of miles away and receive immediate advice on how to treat or at least
stabilize the condition.
And in coastal waters VHF will
connect you to coast guard
But even so it is worth
acquiring some basic medical
knowledge before setting off, as well as carrying a comprehensive first
While the basic marine first
aid kits will cover everyday
events, harsher climates and out of the way places may require
a number of retailers selling boating medical kit
that contain most of what you might need.
However, check with your
physician if you have specific
requirements and with some planning put together a marine first aid kit
specific to your own requirements and capabilities.
Match the marine first aid kit with your own
medical knowledge as well as
the size of your boat, the health of your crew, the areas where you are
and your pocket.
Unless you are prepared to
spend many years at medical
school your marine first aid should be just that until you can get
And of course you will need a
kit to go with your grab
While this will need to cover
basic first aid it will
also need to address other more extreme considerations.
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I am perfectly aware that the majority of Wooden Boat aficionados are sensible folk. However, I need to point out that I am an amateur wooden boat enthusiast simply writing in order to try to help other amateur wooden boat enthusiasts. And while I take every care to ensure that the information in DIY Wood Boat.com is correct, anyone acting on the information on this website does so at their own risk.