Friday, July 3, 2009

The Med Kit (Z Kit)

Even though it wasn't first on the list in terms of survival importance, don't be fooled: the medical portion of your Z Kit is its centerpiece. You will spend more time and money on it than on anything else, and it is important that you do not stint in this regard. When you need this bad boy, you really really need it.

What's good about this is that it is also the most justifiable expenditure of the whole thing. People may look at you funny for having a portable stove and a survival blanket in your pack, but no one ever sees a first aid kit and has paranoid thoughts. (Bone saws are another matter entirely.) Best of all, this is something you will use even if the dead don't rise from their graves and hunger for the flesh of the living. Accidents happen, and now you're prepared for them. It is for this reason, and the aforementioned good impression, that your medical kit be at the very top of your pack.

First we start with the basics. I suggest a prepackaged kit with as many pieces as you can afford. I use the 299-piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit from First Aid Only. $24.99, but I got it on sale for half price (score!) at my local Target. (FYI, this case is about the size of a hardcover book.)

  • (75) 3/4"x3" Adhesive plastic bandages
  • (20) 3/4"x3" Fabric bandages
  • (30) 1"x3" Adhesive plastic bandages
  • (10) 1"x3" Fabric bandages
  • (4) Knuckle fabric bandages
  • (4) Fingertip fabric bandages
  • (2) 2"x4" Elbow & knee plastic bandages
  • (50) 3/8"x1-1/2" Junior plastic bandages
  • (1) 1-1/2"x1-1/2" Patch plastic bandage
  • (3) Butterfly wound closures
  • (6) 2"x2" Gauze dressing pads
  • (4) 3"x3" Gauze dressing pads
  • (2) 4"x4" Gauze dressing pads
  • (1) 5"x9" Trauma pad
  • (1) 2" Conforming gauze roll bandage
  • (6) Aspirin tablets
  • (6) Ibuprofen tablets
  • (6) Extra-strength non-aspirin tablets
  • (14) Alcohol cleansing pads
  • (15) Antiseptic cleansing wipes (sting free)
  • (6) Antibiotic ointment packs
  • (2) First aid/burn cream packs
  • (3) Insect sting relief pads
  • (2) 1/2"x5 yd. First aid tape roll
  • (1) 4"x5" Instant cold compress
  • (1) Burn relief pack, 3.5 gm.
  • (1) Sterile eye pad
  • (1) Emergency blanket
  • (3) 2"x2" Moleskin squares
  • (1) Thermometer, one time use
  • (10) 3" Cotton tipped applicators
  • (2) 6"x11/16" Finger splint
  • (2) Exam quality vinyl gloves
  • (1) 4-1/2" Scissors, nickel plated
  • (1) 4" Tweezers, plastic
  • (1) 40 pg. First aid guide

This is a good start, but it's by no means complete. This is my version of the above kit, as it stands now:

Most of the items shown actually store within zippered case. Bulkier items pack next to it.

Starting from top left corner:
  • 299 Piece First Aid Kit, open
  • Ace bandage with velcro closure
  • Elastic thigh strap (from here) to be used as bandage tie or tourniquet
  • Plastic case containing two Kotex pads
  • Waterproof match container, now re-purposed as a pill box (currently holding Maalox, Advil, and Claritin)
  • Water purification tablets (2 piece)
  • Prescription Meperidine left over from my last Kidney Stone
  • Advil PM (sleeping pills, basically)
  • Lamisil foot anti-fungal ointment (aren't you happy to know these intimate details about me?)
  • Super Glue with applicator (cannibalized from a sewing kit)
  • Insect repellent
  • Insect bite/Poison Ivy sting relief
  • Blistex
  • SPF 70 Sunblock
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Needles and thread, from aforementioned sewing kit
  • Specialty needles
  • New Skin liquid bandage
  • Antibiotic ointment with painkiller
  • Precision tweezers, slant and point tip
  • 10 safety pins
  • Trauma Bandage
  • Snakebite venom extractor
  • Derma-Safe utility knife and saw
  • Bandage scissors (the blunt-tipped kind that can cut through a penny)
  • Eyeglass repair kit
Not shown but still useful and in my bag:
  • Travel toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Pack of Q-tips
  • Fingernail clippers

What's ironic is that, in the course of writing this, I realized that I had forgotten something: powder to keep my feet dry. Wet feet are miserable and can lead to all sorts of fun infections (I speak from personal experience here).

I'm almost certain I've forgotten something just as crucial. If you think of it, please let me know!


  1. Just be careful about Aspirin (in particular).
    They're anti-coagulants that reduces bloodclotting for up to a week (which can be useful of course, but also dangerous).
    Other salicylate drugs will also have a similar effect, but for a much shorter time.

    If you have some sort of powerful and potentially deadly allergy (to stuff like peanuts, bee stings etc etc) I'd recommend keeping a 6 doses of epinephrine in there as well.
    It's hard to have a strict control of your diet if zombieapocalypse comes around, and while you won't eat anything allergenic on purpose it would be ironic to escape major disaster only to die due to a peanut. Only 18 month shelf-life (in general) though.

  2. not useful in a zombie kit, really... but my General Apocalypse survival kit has a week's supply of potassium iodide in it. reduces the body's absorption of radiation. Useful if I'm on the edge of a fallout zone (within a week's travel, anyway)

  3. Not only on the edge of a falloutzone, but useful overall.

    I-131 (most common radioactive form of Iodine) has a half-life of just slightly above 8 days, so a weeks supply of Potassium iodine could drastically cut down on your I-131 intake. I'd guess 50-75% as after the first week much of the fallout would settle down (so at least you wouldn't be breathing it in).

  4. @Bunny: Yes, I know all about Aspirin's blood thinning side effects, which is why I go Advil instead.

    Fortunately, I have no special allergies to bites/stings and no common food allergies (only one rare kind of tropical nut, which I prevent by avoiding eating nuts of all kinds), so it never even occurred to me to carry epinephrine. Since I have no real use for it and it has such a short shelf life, I see no profit in it. But for those folks who do have such allergies, you're quite right.

    @Danicus: Potassium Iodide is one of those things I keep meaning to get, but never seem to remember, mostly because it needs to be ordered over the internet. For those interested in learning more about it, I recommend this place.

    Well spotted, both of you.

  5. Actually the blood thinning effect can be quite useful. You just need to be aware of it.

    If you're having a heart attack for example then taking an aspirin (for this purpose you should chew it to speed up absorption) could drastically improve your chances of survival.

    For Eurasian apocalypse survivors. Aspirin was originally extracted from Willow bark. Letting willow bark soak in cold water for 8 hours and then drinking it (after straining it) will also have a similar effect. It's a much weaker dose than aspirin, but a few cups of it will dull pain (somewhat, not as good as an aspirin) and provide a beneficial effect if you (or someone else) have had a heart attack (drinking a cup or two for about a month after the event (unless you develop a reaction. Like nausea or tinnitus).
    Good to know since the Willow tree is quite easily identified.

    Having a rough knowledge of the medicinal effects of plants found in your area of the world is overall highly recommended.
    When civilization breaks down, so does the local pharmacy.


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