Prepper First Aid – Finding the Perfect IFAK Kit

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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

First aid in grid-down scenarios is something that a lot of people take for granted and if you are unable to access medical care immediately, an IFAK kit could save your life. Our society has become overly dependent on medicine and the easy availability of Emergency rooms, family practice doctors, and 24 primary care facilities.

Well, maybe we aren’t as dependent as I am making out, but we certainly don’t suffer from not having medical options. I think advances in medicine and treatment are a good thing as it has led to longer lives for most of us and solutions to some problems that would have killed millions in earlier times.

This evolution in medical care has a downside though and that is a society that views medicine as a right and not a privilege we have. We start to take quality medical care for granted since it’s a given that you will receive it when you need it most. Your doctor will always be there and should give you any treatment for free.

They can talk to the insurance company if they want anyone to pay them for their time, material, and services we demand. No, I am not trying to get on a soapbox to shout about the unconstitutionality of recently enacted laws, just pointing out a phenomenon that will catch a lot of people off guard if the grid goes down.

What if there are no hospitals?

If we are faced with a grid down scenario, the medical care we have come to think of as a right may be non-existent. It doesn’t matter what you think you are due, if there is no one to treat your illness or injury you are SOL. (look that up if you don’t know what it means).

In my quest to cover as many of the First aid bases as I reasonably can, I have tried to acquire basic medical supplies that we would need as part of normal life. I started with the assumption that we would not be able to get to the store, or that the stores would not have anything left after some crisis so I got the basics of Alcohol, band-aids, bandages, Neosporin, Hydrogen peroxide, Aspirin, Advil, and children’s aspirin.

Moving out from there, I purchased face masks to reduce infection, latex gloves for instances where you might come in contact with fluids, and larger bandages. I bought large blood stopper bandages, and clotting solutions like Celox to stop massive bleeding quickly and further backups of bandages and sterile dressings. I also bought Epsom salts and vitamins for both us and our children to handle vitamin deficiencies.

Elite First Aid Military IFAK kit - Individual First Aid Kit - Already stocked with the major items you need.
Elite First Aid Military IFAK Individual First Aid Kit – Already stocked with several items you need.

After the basics, I moved on to first aid kits. I have one for camping, one for each vehicle that is also stocked with blood stoppers, a large family kit, and a combat medic kit I bought at a gun show that is slap full of excellent gear like sutures and a stapler and lots of bandages and antibiotic creams. Lastly, I bought a set of medical instruments, just in case I need to do surgery. Do I know how to use all of this gear? Not all of it, and I haven’t had any formal medical training so I bought some books.

I bought Emergency War Surgery and The Survival Medicine Handbook as resource guides along with some additional books on natural remedies and herbs for treating various ailments. Eventually, my plan is to take some classes on first aid at the local Red Cross, but our local chapter seems to be lacking in that area, at least from my most recent search on their website.

All of the gear above is just equipment. Not knowing how to properly use the items above won’t do you much good. I know how to stop bleeding and treat minor wounds, but this assumes I will not be the one injured and/or that I have access to all of our supplies and someone who can either read or hopefully has read up on some of the guides above.

What if you are on your own?

Now, after that long introduction I get to the IFAK kit. What the heck is an IFAK kit you ask? It is the military’s version of your own personal little first aid kit. The IFAK or “Individual First Aid Kit” as it is normally called (some branches say Improved instead of individual) is given to every soldier going into combat. The contents vary slightly, but they are generally what are listed below.

6515-01-521-7976Tourniquet, Combat Application
6510-01-492-2275Bandage Kit, Elastic
6510-01-503-2117 / 6510-00-058-3047Bandage Gauze 4-1/2″ 100/Pkg
6510-00-926-8883Adhesive Tape Surg 2″ 6’s Roll
6515-01-180-0467Airway, Nasopharyngeal, 28fr, 12s
6515-01-519-9161Glove, Patient Exam 100/Pkg (4ea)
6545-01-531-3647Pouch, IFAK
6545-01-531-3147Insert, IFAK (has folding panels, with cord attached)

What do all these handy-dandy items give you? It gives you just the essentials to treat yourself or your buddy if you aren’t near or can’t make it to medical facilities. You have exam gloves, a tourniquet, a nasopharyngeal airway tube and a bandage. The two most important items I see are the tourniquet and the bandage. You won’t be using the airway tube on yourself, and without training probably won’t use that on anyone else either. The airway tube is designed to clear the airway in an unconscious person so that their tongue doesn’t cause them to suffocate. If you are interested, I found some instructions for using this here.

If we encountered a situation where I was forced to leave home for any length of time, I would want to carry something like an IFAK with me. I wouldn’t take my combat medic bag because it would be too big and bulky. I wouldn’t take the traditional hiking first aid kit either because if I am armed to the teeth and leaving home, I probably won’t need to put a band aid on a scratch. I will need something a little more intense.

Where can you get them?

A simple google search will show you a lot of options, but not all IFAK’s are created equal and it pays to shop around. In my quick search I found the following options and prices.

Each of these vendors offers slightly different contents with a couple throwing in a bag of quick clot and lip balm to sweeten the pot.

Better to buy or make it yourself?

Just looking at some of the contents in the main list and comparing prices, I wanted to try to see if I could save some money by building my own. I shopped around for all of the main nomenclature items on Ebay, Amazon and other sites to see what the best price I could find was.

So, looking at just the cost of the items individually my cost would be $55.31 and that obviously doesn’t count shipping. I think it’s safe to say that you can buy your IFAK cheaper or certainly more simply than you can make one yourself. Could you buy in bulk and save more? Probably, but if you are only going to buy a few, I wouldn’t go through the trouble myself.

In summary, you should plan on having first-aid gear even if the grid never goes down or the zombies invade. If you can foresee going out on patrol or being mobile away from your home base, an IFAK would be a necessity I think. There are lots of options out there so check before you buy.

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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i made a lot of my gear at the local dollar store tape gauge bandages small bottles of aspirin etc add butterflies and some other items online and lastly the chain drugstores although there prices are getting high despite the cards so careful shopping will let you fill the kit and the savings let you buy the higher priced items i have an elderly mother who likes to garden the butterfly’s have save 3 trips to the er and her dr approved of 2 of the fix the 3 she has not seen yet do not forget antiseptic cream and… Read more »


Great comments and suggestions jr023! The incremental approach works well for supplies like this that have a long shelf life. Buy a little when you can find a great deal and your supplies will add up pretty quickly.

Don H

As a Nurse and EMT, I prefer Triple Antibiotic Ointment (TAO) over Neosporin. As for the gloves, rather than buying a box of 50 or 100, you can get small bags of 12 or so in the home cleaning section of most stores, or ask for a couple of pairs next time you go to your Dr. They are NOT sterile so they are usually OK with giving their patients a few for their own first aid kits. One other point I usually tell people, in a SHTF scenario, many times you are better off using Duct tape instead of… Read more »


Thanks Don,

Yes, in a blood loss situation you are absolutely correct about Aspirin. I didn’t make that clear, but thanks a lot for your ideas, perspective and comments!


Bill Reed

Well Don as an RN you should know that ibuprofen also is a platelet inhibitor (although not as pronounced as ASA). And as such can contribute to increased bleeding. Tylenol is really your best bet in situations where you have to rely on an OTC available pain reliever and at the same time cannot risk any increase in potential bleeding.

Bill Reed, CRNA, ANP


If the Red Cross doesn’t offer what you need you may want to check out the Wilderness First Aid courses.

Thanks for the articles. I enjoy your website.


stuff. But, what about a dog first aid kit?


You aren’t even 1st aid qualified; try minimum EMT,and when you get that, volunteer so you get some experience! Skills, man. That’s what it’s all about!

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