Build Your Own First Aid Kit in a Can [SLIDESHOW]

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Pringles cans
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

It’s easy to pack an ultimate emergency kit; just throw everything you could ever possibly need into a box (or buy a nice, expensive one) and haul it around in the trunk of your car (and then sigh every time you load the trunk for a road trip). Putting the essentials in a lightweight, portable container for packing in a car or backpack, however, is another thing entirely. I like challenges, and the idea of preparing a first aid kit for some of the most common emergencies and fitting it into a can appealed to me. The first thing I had to do was pick a can. I chose a Pringles can for two reasons: First, it’s large enough to hold some essential supplies but compact enough to easily pack anywhere. Second, I like Pringles and eating the entire can in short order was another challenge I was glad to accept. The next step was to assemble a list of crucial supplies that would fit in a container that normally holds crisp, delicious chips. Here’s what I came up with and how you can use them in an emergency. While the items below aren’t an all-inclusive list, they’ll get you through in a pinch and can help keep infection from setting in and spreading until you can get professional help.

  • gauze sponges
    Gauze Sponges

    Sterile 4- by 4-inch absorbent squares of gauze can be used to clean, prep, cover or apply medications to wounds.

  • Self-Adhesive Elastic Bandage
    Self-Adhering Elastic Bandage

    With no need for clips, the self-adhering, stretchy material adds support to joints and can be used to hold wound-covering gauze (or even ice) in place.

  • Sports Tape
    Sports Tape

    Stronger and stiffer than an elastic bandage, tape can be used to add more support to joints or even to help rig a splint in the case of a broken bone.

  • Tylenol
    Pain Control

    Some type of pain relief is a welcome addition when you need it. Aleve, Tylenol, Advil, etc. A small travel container of your favorite fits nicely in a can.

  • Stomach Relief
    Stomach Relief

    Bismuth Subsalicylate (better known as Pepto Bismol) is great for diarrhea, nausea and other gastrointestinal issues. If you’re camping or stuck somewhere for a few days (or if you eat the entire can of Pringles in a single sitting), it could come in handy.

  • antihistamine

    Benadryl or another antihistamine is great to relieve allergic reactions such as sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose or an itchy throat. Beyond that, it’s great for bee stings and can even help slow the damage done from the venom of a snakebite.

  • Bandages
    Adhesive Bandages

    A single bandage can be used to cover minor cuts or several can be used to help close a larger laceration.

  • ointment
    Triple Antibiotic Ointment

    Applied to cuts, burns and scrapes, this ointment can help stave off infection – a serious matter if you’re stuck or are otherwise unable to get to medical help in a timely manner. Get the type with a built-in pain reliever for another layer of relief and comfort.

  Photo credits: Pringles cans via Flickr; Gauze sponges via; Self-adhesive elastic bandages via; Sports tape via Wikimedia; Tylenol via Wikimedia; Stomach relief  via; Antihistamine via; Bandage via Wikimedia; Triple antibiotic ointment via

About the Author

Brian Lynn

As an editor and writer for such publications as and Outdoor Life, Brian has extensive experience in the outdoors realm. However, his knowledge comes with at the price of experience. You can learn a lot from him because he’s done most of it wrong the first time and can tell you all about what you should do instead.

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