First Aid Kit contents list


Simon Connor
Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone has a recommended list of items that should go into a first aid kit ?

Cheers all and keep safe and well,



Member III
We have had good luck with Lisa's primary who ran through a complete list of items we would need as well as prescriptions for the non-OTC items. This was all done with a tele-health appointment and worth every penny. I'll see if Lisa has completed her updated list yet.


Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
There are a few professional recommendations available:

I like the small book by Eric Weiss that comes with a certain brand of grotesquely over-priced first aid kits but is also available separately. Oddly enough, the kits do not contain the items recommended by Dr. Weiss. IIRC, the book has almost a flow-chart approach to dealing with emergencies. May require reading glasses for the fine print.

At the other end of the spectrum are the comprehensive WHO Medical Guide for Ships and UK Ships Captains Medical Guide, both of which are free on-line but may be overkill for a small pleasure boat. But maybe not. Oh, it looks like the newest version of SCMG is no longer free, but PDFs of the previous edition can still be found.

The price of the "marine first aid kits" that one can buy far exceeds the cost of their contents, purchased separately. (Still bitter about buying one...) But you can download the contents list, for some of them. e.g. Although shopping for all of that stuff could take a significant amount of time and effort, which the kit saves you. And the one that I bought did not actually contain all the things that it claimed to.

A few random things I noted when I stocked up - and/or discovered when I had to use it:

Things like gauze bandages and tape can be bulky and kits are likely to contain only one (1) of each. However, if you need to treat a significant wound for several days, you will need several. They aren't expensive, but do take up a lot of space.

Wound closure strips work great, compared with trying to stitch yourself - but you will need the tincture of benzoin needed to make them stick. (Not included in kit.) And probably more than one packet because once opened, they are no longer sterile. (Same caveat for everything else wound-related - individually-wrapped better than bulk-pack.)

Almost a joke: the "six person kit" contained one (1) dose of seasickness medication. I imagine sick people fighting over who gets the one dose...

Speaking of medications, they were all packaged in little foil packets with text printed in tiny pastel print. Practically unreadable to (ahem) "mature eyes." And no explicit labeling as to what each item does or what condition it is for. When I've purchased new stuff, I've added large print labels with the name, usage, and dose.

Most medical thermometers that one can buy only cover a tiny range - like 96 - 103 degrees. But mariners might need one that covers a lower range - for hypothermia. Takes some searching to find one.

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Blogs Author
Consult the Ship Captain's Medical Guide for questions about crew insanity, pregnancy, head trauma from falling cargo, and of course, and you won't fond this in most $10 medical kits, burial at sea. (Be sure to make a vent in the shroud so the deceased doesn't bob around on the surface, and to mark the GPS position in the log because the family is bound to ask the current location of their kin).

I used some of this in the novel "Rarotonga" and it brought many a smile to the research.



Member III

Adventure Medical prioritizes their kits based on how many crew and how long from rescue. While having a kit is a good thing, it would probably be wise to get some training on how to use it. The ol' ABC's are a good place, as are courses from The American Red Cross.


Member III
I have the West Marine kit, which has some forty well chosen items in it, plus clear, simple instructions. I think I only used it once, for a burn. I recommend it. I also have ibuprofen and an assortment of bandaids.

paul culver

Member III
Assortment of various band-aids, 1 tube neosporin ointment, 4 immodium, 1 small tube super glue, and a leather strap to bite on.

Works for me.


Member III
Most kits aimed at small boaters are not good enough if you can not get a seriously injured person evaced in a few hours or less. Silver Maiden operates in New York Harbor, so I am never far from evac to a great hospital, but if I were going on a trip out of the area or doing any kind of crossing I would go to the UK Ships Captains Medical Guide and put together my own kit.

Back in 1982 I was chief mate on a research vessel making it's maiden voyage from Morgan City LA to Bombay. A long trip for a 120 foot vessel. Since I still had my recent texts from Kings Point I dove into those to outfit the med kit. Had a devil of a time finding a way to get morphine, suturing needles and thread, antibiotics and such. These were pre-internet days and even though Morgan City builds lots of gulf supply boats and many run from there to rigs in the gulf it was a real pain calling around to supply houses because they were all under the impression anything could be solved by helo evac.

I did eventually find a chandler in New Orleans that specialized in ship med kits and got everything on my list. We were lucky and needed none of it for the trip in spite of the cook being less clueful on food handling. She was the Captain's wife and had never cooked a day in her life I think.

So if you are going anyplace outside a quick evac check out the current suggestions for SHIPS, scale the amounts for the size of your crew and the time you will be in a non-evac area, then as others have said on this thread get training. At the Merchant Marine Academy I had either one or two terms on ships medicine. If I were making a long crossing I would find and take a refresher course in shipboard medicine.

Make no mistake while our little boats are "pleasure craft" their operation requires the same care and concern as the big iron boats.

One thing I will say needs to be in every kit are some instant cold packs. Many of us have no or limited refrigeration and cold can be very important. Years ago I was moving Silver Maiden from NYC to Cortland along the Hudson river. I left my girl friend at the helm and went to the head. She called down to me there was an oncoming ship and she did not know what to do. I grabbed the hatch coming to pop my head out for a look and crash the hatch fell on my hand. I was in a bad way with no ice to control the swelling and only aspirin for the pain. It was a long night heading up river with my hand throbbing. Lucky for me there was ice available when we docked several hours later.

So my advice is treat your med kit the same way the pros do and add to it from there for the "hardships" of being on a small vessel.

Not sure how I would burry someone at sea on a small boat. There are precious few things to use to wrap and weight a body because we have such limited storage on our little boats.


New Member
I picked up an Advanced First Aid (Red Cross) book at the used marine store the other day. I'm planning to build my own first aid kit and store in a waterproof container. We will be mostly coastal cruising until we are ready to go offshore. So far I'm going to have sterile guaze, prewrap, athletic tape, antiseptic, superglue, a few finger splints, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, ace bandage, disposable stapler/staples/staple remover, antibiotics, ice packs, reflective blanket, gloves, thermometer, tweezers. Any other suggestions for things to have in there?


Member III
I can not stress enough having instant cold packs. While on vacation a couple of years ago I had to use a couple on the wife when she broke her foot. This happened on a land based vacation, but it sure hammered home the need for them on the boat.

Something else to think on is a dental first aid kit with material for doing fillings and gluing broken teeth back together. I have broken 2 teeth in my life, one in a fight when someone jumped me and the other biting on a hard nut. For the first the Navy dentist fixed it right within a few hours, but for the second my dentist was not available for 3 days. Needless to say I was happy I could weld the pieces back together. It did not take away all the pain, but it sure was better than having the exposed inner tooth in contact with food and drink.


Member III
A good marine VHF handheld or permanent install...with emergency channel 16....also a well charged cell phone with posted emergency Coast Guard phone numbers, to go along with all above mentioned suggestions.


Member III
Not just a working VHF, but instructions on how to call for help. Imagine one of you grandkids is trying to use it. We have a pretty overkill med kit on board, but if we only went out for a week the need would be different and we wouldn’t need as much.

The most used items:
Seasick meds (we carry the patch along with 3 different types of oral meds)
Bandaids (a couple different sizes)
Steristrips (way better than a sewing up a wound)
Alcohol (disinfectant)

Beth Leonard put together a really good book called the Voyagers Handbook that I based our kit on. That and a visit to a travel doctor back in the USA.