5 Must Have First Aid Kit Items

Published 17 February, 2020

Stop severe hemorrhaging fast with these 5 essential first aid kit items


Written by The Preparedness Team

First aid is vitally important to preventing infection, mitigating further injury, and saving someone’s life. Knowing how to administer first aid could mean life or death for you or a loved one, making it a skill to practice and keep ready.

It is important to keep in mind that you might want to have different first aid kits for hiking, traveling, and combat if that applies to you. Tailoring a first aid kit to your specific situation is a very good idea. An everyday use first aid kit might incorporate some elements of each.

We assume you are already familiar with the fundamentals of first aid. Here we boil down an already concise list into 5 must haves for any first aid kit to prevent a leading major cause of death – severe bleeding. This is not intended to be a guide for how to treat massive hemorrhaging, rather, a concise list of important tools to help you in administering treatment.

1 – Combat Application Tourniquet


These tourniquets are bar-none the most effective way to stop severe bleeding should all other treatment options prove inadequate. Combat Application Tourniquets are designed for quick, single-handed use, are lightweight, and very easy to use. There is a reason why most US military units require personnel to wear multiple tourniquets when deployed – they save lives. This style of tourniquet is an absolute must-have for your everyday first aid kit. For more information on the CAT Tourniquet, click here

NAR V7 Combat Application Tourniquet

The CAT GEN 7 tourniquet is a true one-handed tourniquet proven to be 100% effective by the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research. Tests proved that the CAT completely occluded blood flow of an extremity in the event of a traumatic wound with significant hemorrhage. The CAT utilizes a durable windlass system with a patented free-moving internal band providing true circumferential pressure to the extremity.

$ 28.85

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2 – Iodine


There is nothing more effective at killing bacteria than iodine. Yes, it will burn, but before you completely cover a wound it is good to use iodine as infection prevention if you have the time to do so. Using iodine isn’t practical in every situation, as sometimes the hemorrhaging might be so bad that every second might count to try and stop it. If you do have the time to coat the wound in iodine, your patient will appreciate it knowing that their wound was treated for protection against possible infection. This step is time dependent, but important if you can accomplish it.

Iodine Tincture Mild 2%, USP, 1 oz

Humco Iodine Tincture Mild 2% is a first aid anti-septic used to help prevent infection in minor cuts, scrapes, and burns.

$ 8.95

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3 – Quikclot Gauze / Combat Gauze / Hemostatic Gauze


All of these refer to hemostatic gauze, which is simply gauze with a blood clotting agent built into it. To get the most out of the clotting agent, you need to apply this gauze with the pick pull method. You want to expose as much of the clotting agent to the wound site and not just throw the square package onto the site straight out of the package. Even if you aren’t familiar with this method, using this gauze can cause blood to clot at the wound site significantly faster and greatly aid in victim stabilization time than just using regular gauze. You can apply regular gauze after applying combat gauze and leave the quikclot gauze on the wound should you have to. Ideally, if you are managing direct pressure on the wound site well, you can treat the wound multiple times with new units of quikclot gauze then leave regular gauze on the wound site for protection.

Celox Rapid Gauze

Biostat Celox Rapid Z-Folded Gauze

Celox Rapid is suitable for: Severe high pressure bleeding. Arterial and venous bleeding. Bullet, blast, knife and shrapnel wounds. Wound packing. Applying through strong blood flows. Application to all bleeding wounds

$ 37.56

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4 – Pressure bandage


Direct pressure is the first line of defense with treating severe bleeding. Pressure helps the blood to clot and can prevent substantial amounts of blood loss and can be applied while figuring out other treatment requirements. Once direct pressure has been manually applied, it is important to keep this pressure with a bandage. These bandages are typically overlaid some gauze, and wrapped tightly around the wound, but not so tight as to act like a tourniquet. If bleeding can be stopped using a pressure bandage as opposed to a tourniquet, that is ideal. This is left to the discretion of the first aid provider. If severe bleeding continues after a pressure bandage is applied, then consider using a tourniquet if subsequent increases in pressure doesn’t stop the bleeding.

Celox Rapid Gauze

Israeli Bandage Battle Dressing First Aid Compression Bandage, 6 Inch

Vacuum-sealed, low-cube packaging; quick and easy self-application. Israeli battle dressing (IBD) - size 6 inch wide and 70 inch long. Hemorrhage control compression bandage

$ 9.45

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5 – Solar Blanket


A solar blanket is essential to keeping a victim warm if they have lost a lot of blood. If not kept warm, a victim can fall into shock, further complicating their problems. Solar blankets are lightweight and easily stowable, making them not only necessary but extremely easy to put into a first aid kit.

Celox Rapid Gauze

Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (4-Pack)

Four Mylar Emergency blankets (Silver) - Advanced dual-sided aluminized mylar blankets. Bonus Gold Space Blanket - Each package includes one extra gold colored space blanket. Lightweight and durable - Military-grade 12-micron aluminized polyethylene mylar, 52"x82" & 2 oz. Emergency use - Designed to retain up 90% of your body heat, completely block rain, snow, moisture. 100% money back guarantee: Swiss Safe Guarantees customer satisfaction or receive a 100% refund.

$ 9.99

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How much of each item should you have?


This is hard to say, as this depends on what type of environment you mostly operate in. For an everyday carry first aid kit to either keep in your work bag or accessible in your car, we recommend at least enough supplies to treat 2 major wounds. This would mean 2 tourniquets, 1 small bottle of iodine, 4 units of combat gauze, 2 solar blankets, and 2 pressure bandages at a minimum.

If you are just looking for a few items to add to an existing first aid kit, or something to keep on you in case of an oddball situation hiking, camping, or traveling, then just 1 tourniquet, 1 unit of quicklot gauze, 1 small bottle of iodine, 1 solar blanket, and 1 pressure bandage might suffice.

Author’s note:


I personally keep 2 tourniquets on me at most times. There is always one nearby wherever I am, in either a work bag or a backpack, and there is always at least 1 in my car. We are way more likely to be injured on the road then most any other place, and having a tourniquet in your glove box or center console could mean life or death for someone in your vehicle. If I’m out leading a trek in the wilderness I might have just one on me. There is always at least 1 within reasonable reach wherever I am.

The rest of the aforementioned items are always within reach as well, usually in a backpack. My complete first aid kit for everyday use contains more items, and is a little bit bigger than a standard VHS tape.

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