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First Aid Essentials

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The first aid kit you assemble for your bomb shelter should have a generous supply of general-use items, as well as supplies specific to medical needs that may arise during a nuclear attack. The first aid kit that you keep in your shelter should not replace a secondary kit that can be easily taken with you should the need to evacuate arise.

The three primary goals of a general first aid kit are to stop bleeding, prevent infection, and assist in decontamination. For purposes of a bomb shelter, add to that list the prevention of radiation poisoning. Your first aid kit is also the place to store refills of prescription medications and other specialized items needed by you or your family members (for example, supplies for diabetics). A small first-aid handbook is also a wise addition; even if you are familiar with all the supplies in the kit, your knowledge can fly out the window in the middle of a stressful situation.

Bandaging and Splinting Supplies:

  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • 2-inch & 3-inch sterile roll bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Folding splints

Medical Tools

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Safety razor blade
  • Oral thermometer (non-glass, non-mercury)
  • Tongue blades and wooden applicator sticks
  • Antiseptic spray
  • Latex gloves (or alternative if latex-allergic)
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Safety glasses

Radiation Protection:

  • Dust masks
  • Potassium Iodide tablets (KI03)- Following a nuclear explosion, radioactive iodine is released into the air where it can be ingested or inhaled. It is absorbed by the body and can cause cancer of the thyroid. If taken just before or just after the ingestion of radioactive fallout, KI03 pills will saturate your thyroid, reducing the possibility of radioactive iodine being absorbed into your thyroid gland. Most KI or KI03 pills have a shelf life of about 5 or 6 years.
  • Iodine- as an emergency alternative to potassium iodide tablets. This can be applied to the skin of the abdomen for absorption into the body (not ingested). It’s not as effective as potassium iodide tablets, but certainly better than nothing at all.
  • Heavy duty plastic garbage bags- for storage of contaminated clothing and items.

Non-Prescription Drugs:

  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Laxative
  • Eye Wash
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Antiseptic or hydrogen peroxide
  • Activated charcoal and Syrup of Ipecac (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

Unique Needs: This is not a definitive list, but rather is meant to provide examples of special medical items you may need to keep in your shelter. Consider the health needs of yourself and each member of your family.

  • Glasses
  • Contact lenses/ contact cases/ bottles of solution
  • Hearing aids with extra batteries
  • Insulin/syringes
  • Diapers
  • Feminine products
  • A 14-day minimum supply of prescription medications
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment

Your first aid kit should be stored in an area of your bomb shelter where it is easily accessible and unlikely to be damaged by moisture. With the important exception of prescription and non-prescription medicines that have an expiration date, you will not need to cycle through the items in your first aid kit in the same manner as your food and water stores. Any medical items with an expiration date should be used and replaced frequently to ensure that what you have on hand is fresh, safe, and effective should you need it in an emergency.