Single-serving burn gel

I’m a big fan of the Water Jel burn relief product. This stuff is the most awesome thing in the world for taking the pain out burns. Years ago I made the mistake of picking up a lawnmower by the exhaust manifold. Ow. I literally could not sleep unless my hand was clutching a bag full of ice cubes, the pain and ache was that strong. Nowadays, I slap some of this stuff on it and -presto- the pain goes away. Nothing magical, its just a topical anesthetic, but when you burn yourself, especially on parts of the body that really make you feel it…like fingertips…the stuff is a wonder.

20150605_181355I keep the large bottle of it around the house but thats really too large for most first-aid kits. Fortunately, they offer single-serving ‘ketchup packets’ of the stuff. Several of these are going into the various FAKs that go in the hunting/fishing bags. Nine times out of ten the burns I get outdoors are the simplest and stupidest ones….those stupid wire handles on the canteen cup. Its a long day of chasing Bambi, you stop to heat some water on the esbit stove to mix up some lunch, your hands are a little cold so you don’t notice how hot the wire handles are at first, and…ouch. And while burns are never fun, the ones on fingers..esp fingertips….really suck. So…a couple packets of this stuff will go into each FAK.

As I was ordering the stuff up offa Amazon I noticed they even make a ‘military’ kit that is suitable for white phosphorus injuries. Kinda cool, although if I’m in a situation where there is a genuiune risk of Willy Pete injuries then things have truly gone off the rails.

I’d posted a while back about Water Jel but didn’t mention the extremely convenient single-serve packets. I ordered them up a few days ago and they just arrived. Figured I’d mention it because it is some really awesome stuff and there’s really no excuse for not having some in your kits when you can get it in something as convenient and small as the single-serving packets.


Fixing first aid kit foibles

As you may (or may not) remember, a few posts back I described how the first aid kit I left in my bicycle pannier turned into something less-than-optimal as a result of being left out over the winter.

The problem was that it’s a tough balancing act to have a first aid kit in a watertight/airtight container of some fashion but still be quickly accessible with one hand when youre trying to keep all the red stuff inside you. Turned out that the bicycle pannier may not have been nearly as weather resistant as I thought and as a result my first aid kit suffered a great deal of moisture damage. (Although, to be fair, the items that were wrapped in plastic or sealed in foil fared just fine.)

Okay, spring is (somewhat) here and I’m back to riding my bicycle more. Time to replace that first aid kit. On my bike, my needs are simple – I need some stuff to patch up scrapes/cuts/tears from me being suddenly introduced to the road surface by that great facilitator of ouchies – gravity.

An assortment of gauze, pads, bandaids, some tape, and some antibiotic ointment should do it. Lets see what we have:

20150405_120652It’s just for a bicycle accident, not a splenectomy….the skin stapler, betadine and other over-the-top stuff is in the other kit. For the most common boo-boos related to me flying over the handlebars, this’ll handle most of it. Now, to package it up so it stays clean and dry. In this case, we’ll go with a heavy mylar foil resealable bag. With a reasonable amount of care, and a modicum of force, everything fit into the pouch and left enough room to have a bit of extra material to form a seal:

20150405_121911Make sure the jaws of the sealer are hot enough, slide the open end of the pouch between ’em, squeeze jaws shut for a ten-count, and…voila:

20150405_122632I have a rather…exhaustive….supply of first-aid supplies from an episode of eBay purchasing that may have been a bit over-the-top. I’m dead serious…I’ve got something on the order of 9,600 band aids. Since I had to buy the mylar bags in quantity to get a discount, I should probably but together a dozen similar packages, label ’em appropriately, and pass ’em out as Paratus gifts this fall.

Anyway, I’ll toss this in the bag on the bike and be good to go. Should be watertight, airtight, and pretty much impervious to just about any environmental concern.

First aid kit foibles

Years back,I used to have a bicycle that would, at irregular intervals, try and kill me by locking up the chain for no particular reason. I eventually got a newer, better, bicycle but the old Death Machine taught me to keep a first aid kit handy. On my bike I have one of these mounted. I find it very useful, and keep my first aid kit in there. The first aid kit is one of these (Maxpedition FR-1 Pouch) loaded with what I feel is necessary gear. Now, if you’re keeping track, that is a first aid kit contained in a cordura pouch, which is itself contained within a cordura bicycle bag. What could go wrong?

Well, here’s the lesson for today… I left my bike chained up in the yard over the winter. As a result, the rain and snowmelt made its way through the bicycle bag and through the first aid pouch. Check this out:

20150308_164940Thats not dirt, kids….thats mold. Most first aid stuff is packaged in sterilized paper envelopes and those are less waterproof. So, virtually everything was moist/damp/moldy and had to be discarded. However, some things were not damaged. Observe:

20150308_165152Basically, anything packed in foil or sealed in plastic weathered it just fine.

So, by now, you’re thinking “No problemo, just seal up all the individual contents and you’ll be good to go.” A reasonable way of thinking, but it overlooks a big issue – when you need a first aid kit, theres a pretty good chance you’re under stress, your hands might be a little shaky, and you may only have one hand to work with since your other arm/hand might be injured. So, sealing things up in a manner that required two hands to open (or requires several repeated pouch-opening-procedures) might not be conducive to effective use of your gear.

Now, I rather like the Maxpedition FR pouch. It’s reasonably compact, fairly easy to organize, and has several methods for attachment to other gear. I’d hate to give it up. So, to me, the choices are two: a) individually seal the contents of the kit or b) put the whole kit into a waterproof container of some sort.

I’m leaning towards ‘A’. Best method? Well, there’s this:

IMG_1863Those are heavy-duty mylar bags with ‘tear away’ tops and zip-seals, and a 6″ heat sealer that I picked up off Amazon. The bags, in various sizes and thicknesses, are from Sorbent Systems. I got them expressly for the purpose of making small, weatherproof, resealable, firs-aid kits for my hunting and outdoors gear. For example:

IMG_1865That pouch contains most of the important stuff…gauze, non-stick pads, compress bandage, antibiotic ointment, bandaids, aspirin, tape, etc, etc. Not enough to do surgery or fix a detached aorta, but for the cuts, burns, scrapes and bloody messes that sometimes happen from bicycle accidents, knife slips, falls in blowdown snag, etc, its pretty good. And, it is now completely waterproof. Tear open at the upper corner there with your teeth and open it like a bag of chips. When done, you can reseal it with the ziploc-type closure. When the crisis is over, since I have a stack of these bags, I can simply transfer the contents to a new bag to seal. I’ll wind up getting a larger back, drop the Maxpedition FR into it, throw in a few oxygen absorbers to snug it up tight, and tuck it into my bike bag.

Now, if you have a vacuum sealer, you can very much accomplish a similar setup using your sealer and bags. Two big differences though: the mylar pouches pictured have a ‘tear notch’ to allow easy access (which a vacuum sealed bag does not); and the mylar pouch, in this heavy thickness, is much more puncture resistant than a vacuum seal bag (however, you can always wrap the vacuum seal bag in something to protect its integrity).

I have learned my lesson and won’t be leaving this gear outside over the winter again, but walking around in a solid rain for a few hours would have probably induced the same amount of moisture into things. Waterproofing/weatherproofing an important bit of gear like this makes sense. Fortunately, today I noticed it because I was thinking I should probably check to see how the gear fared over the winter…it would have been a different story if I was a couple miles down the road, sitting on a rock, trying to bandage a gash in my leg with wet and moldy 4″ gauze and pads.

More bargain hunting

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

As I mentioned earlier, the local K-Mart is going outta business. They’ve been progressively marking things down more and more. I’ve been keeping an eye on the ‘health and beauty’ section since that’s where the first aid supplies hang out. Today everything there was marked to 30% off lowest price…AND..for today only there was an additional 10% off on the final price. That translates out to ..uhmm….carry the one….an effective 37% discount. Well, heck, that’s more than one third off. Wouldn’t you capitalize on that as well?

I’m kind of a snob, so what I was after was name-brand stuff. Mostly Johnson & Johnson bandages, gauze, pads, etc, etc. Those were top of the list. The stuff that remains there, while still attractive to my needs, is low priority stuff so I’m content to set back and wait for the final 50% off or whatever they wind up doing. If it’s still there, great…if not, I won’t care.

As I commented to the wife, as the discounts got more and more intense (20% became 25% became 30%, etc.) the crowd definitely became a little more…interesting. We’re in what could arguably be considered a slow economic collapse and people are jazzed about saving 35% on a SpiderMan t-shirt. Screw that…priorities, man….be less thrilled about that and more thrilled about finding essentials and other useful items that’ll help keep you in one piece as the uncertain future unfolds.

So, much like the animal kingdom, as one beast falls the scavengers come in and take what they can from it’s corpse. That’s the food chain, and not everyone enters at the top.

Today’s purchases will get tucked away in the uber-awesome Hardigg medchest where they will quietly sit…safe, secure, and unaware of the passage of time…until that day when they’re needed.

Now if I could just find a smokin’ deal on an EU3000………..

Why it pays to compare prices

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

The local K-mart is going out of business. For the last couple weeks everything has been marked down further and further. I’ve been stopping by once a week to see if theres anything I need that has got a ‘must buy’ price. So, I go in there today and trot over to the first aid aisle. Can never have too much gauze, Neosporin, band aids and rolled gauze. I’m something of a snob, so I priced out the Johnson and Johnson stuff. Everything was 20% off the lowest marked price…okay, thats a fair discount but nothing to jump up and down about. I noted down the prices and figured I’d check and see what the other places in town were getting…so I could see if I was getting 20% off of an already good price or if I was getting 20% off of an overly expensive price. Headed over to Walgreen’s to compare prices and found that with the 20% discount from K-Mart the prices were pretty good….except that, as it turns out, this week Walgreens has buy-one-get-one-free on J&J first aid stuff….which essentially comes out to a 50% discount. So, even with the original price at Walgreens being slightly higher than K-Mart’s base price, it still comes out to a better deal going with the BOGO instead of K-Marts 20% off lowest price.

Which means that if I had given into my impulses and bought the stuff at K-Mart rather than check prices elsewhere, I’d’ve gotten less value for my scarce greenbacks.

Moral of the story: shop around, it pays.

Now….off to an ATM, and then to Walgreens to stock my lovely Hardigg Medical Chest.