Many boaters don’t carry a first aid kit, but they really should. Even on an accessible river like the Ocoee, it’s good to have bandages, aspirin and antacid tablets to save a hike back to the car. On more remote trips it can make a big difference in health and safety in case of an injury. I once caught a rock in the face on Section IV of the Chattooga. My buddy bandaged me up and then hiked out with me and drove me to the hospital — what a boy scout! The problem with most first aid kits is bulk. Especially in small play boats, it’s hard to find space for a full sized first aid kit after putting in your throw rope, lunch and water bottle. A couple of years ago Laura Raymer showed some of us a kit she had assembled in a safety course. Everything was packed into a 32 oz. Nalgene bottle. Perfect solution! Here’s my version:

ntacid tablets
medical tape
small tube of sun block
gauze rolled
splint material
snakebite kit
anti-itch cream
butane lighter
2 “Wetfire” fire starters
instant heat pack
space blanket
backpackers toilet paper
energy bar
extra contact lenses*
CPR instructions**

* I once hiked 6 hours out of the Piney because I lost a contact lens. I was never so glad to see a double wide trailer with seven kids! Now I carry spares.

**There’s a good printable CPR instruction card at Pack this stuff in small amounts into Ziploc bags and tuck it all into a wide mouth clear Nalgene bottle with the rolled splint on the outside and band-aids and other stuff you’ll need more often in the middle for easy access. Tape the packing list to the inside of the bottle so you can read it and keep it stocked. This compact kit will help you be prepared for big emergencies as well as small bumps and bruises.

by Todd Duren
From “Eddy Out” — Chota Canoe Club newsletter.