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How to Create an Emergency Ammo Can First Aid Kit

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
How to Create an Emergency Ammo Can First Aid Kit

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When it comes to having a well-stocked first aid kit, I want to be prepared.  I truly do.  Having spent weeks at a time on a boat in the remote waters of British Columbia, I have always understood that a drugstore and medical doctor may not be accessible.  If sick or wounded, I would be on my own.

So why then, were my first aid supplies in such a disorderly mess?

How to Create an Ammo Can First Aid Kit | Backdoor Survival

In hindsight, I believe that in spite of having good intentions, it was a lot easier to keep purchasing supplies then to organize them.  It was easy to get something on then toss it in a drawer or into the  large “first aid” bin I keep in the garage.  The problem with this method is that I never really had a good handle on what I had and what I really would need in an emergency.  I simply kept buying and tossing, buying and tossing.  Sound familiar?

I recently decided to do something about it.  As I sorted everything out on the floor of my great room, it became apparent that my first aid supplies needed to be broken up into separate kits: routine first aid, trauma, sick room, pandemic, and the all important portable kit that I could grab in the event of a disaster or carry with me on a road trip.  It was an epiphany!

Kit #1: A Portable Kit with the Just the Basics

The first kit I put together is a portable kit with just the basics.  Before starting, I laid down a few requirements.

1.  The portable first aid kit had to include the items that I felt were most likely to be needed during bouts of routine illness and day to day injuries.

2.  The kit needed to do double duty as my in-home basic first aid kit as well as a transportable kit that I could use on road trips or during an evacuation.

3.  The kit, in total, could weigh no more than 10 pounds.

This was not as easy as I thought it would be given that the weight and space requirement would require some tough choices, not the least of which, was the container itself.  My choice?  An ammo can!

The “Ammo Can First Aid Kit” was born!

A Portable First Aid Kit in an Ammo Can

Contents of the Ammo First Aid KitAfter much trial and error, here are the items I settled upon and included in my ammo can first aid kit.

Bandages and Wound Control:

Bandages in a large variety of types and sizes, including waterproof
Stretch Wrap Bandages aka “Vet Wrap”
Sterile Gauze Pads and Sponges in a variety of sizes
New-Skin Liquid Bandage
Israeli Battle Dressing
Quikclot Clotting Sponge
Ace Bandage
Sanitary Napkin
Tincture of Benzoin Compound, to hold bandages in place

Remedies and Medications:

OTC pain killers, including Tylenol, Aleve, Motrin and plain old aspirin
Potassium Iodide
Cipro, an emergency antibiotic prescribed by my physician
Hydrocortisone Cream
Antibiotic Ointment

Natural Remedies:

Spark Naturals Health & Wellness Kit
Clove Bud Essential Oil
DIY Simple Salve
DIY Anti Viral Spray


Swiss Army Knife
Surgical scissors
Nail Clippers
Flashlight, both for digging around in the kit at night and for close work
Tweezers for splinter removal
Disposable Razor
Digital Thermometer

Antiseptics & Sanitizers:

Betadine Solution, to disinfect cuts, scrape and wounds
91% Isopropyl Alcohol
Hand Sanitizer Foam


First Aid Manual
Bandana (See How to Use a Bandana to Save the Day)
100% Cotton Towel
Irrigation Syringe
Cotton Swabs
Nitrile Gloves
Surgical Masks
No Rinse Bath Wipes
Facial tissues
Small hank of Paracord
Bag for waste

Holding it all:

MTM Ammo Can
Emergency First Aid Kit Sticker/Decal

Final Weight:

Nine pounds, four ounces

Other First Aid Items: What is Missing?

As I mentioned, I did have to make some decisions in order to maintain portability and stay within my 10 pound weight restriction.

Suture kit, yes or no?  I chose no because in many cases, leaving a wound open will promote healing. You can read more about that in this article: How to Deal With Open Wounds When Help is Not on the Way.

I also left out splints, instant hot/cold compresses, and items more suited to the sick room such as N95 masks, goggles, and coveralls.  Also missing are a number of ointments and creams you may find useful but given my penchant for essential oils, I left them out and chose to use natural remedies instead.


The Final Word

It has taken me three months to put this kit together.  I would add things, remove them, then put them back again.  One night, while rummaging around in the dark, I realized I needed a flashlight so in it went.  Another time, I was dealing with a bloody scrape on my leg and had no where to dispose of the soiled gauze.  In went a bag for waste.

And so it will go with your own kit.

Although I have included a lot of reference links, the kit you build should be your own.  Personalize it, then make sure you can lift it easily and move it around.  Start to use it day to day and before you know it, you too will have the perfect portable first aid kit.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Below you will find the items mentioned to today’s article.  Use this as a starting point to build your own Ammo Can First Aid Kit!

MTM Ammo Can: I love these Ammo Cans.  They are light weight yet strong plus they are stackable and easy to carry.  The price is right and perfect for a portable first aid kit.  Don’t forget the Emergency First Aid Kit Sticker!

Living Ready Pocket Manual – First Aid: Fundamentals for Survival:  Whether you are miles from help or immersed in an urban disaster situation, every second counts during a medical emergency. This book will help you take quick, effective action to stabilize the situation. One of the best things about this book (other than the information, of course) is it’s size.  It is small enough to keep in your bug-out-bag and also in your first aid kit.

New-Skin Liquid Bandage, First Aid Liquid Antiseptic:  I have been using New Skin for years.  It is an antiseptic, invisible, flexible, and waterproof.  It works.

Self-Adhering Cohesive Wrap, 2″ Wide:  I first learned about self-adhesive bandages when my dog came home from the vet such a bandage wrapped around his leg.  A light went off telling me I needed to add some to my first-aid kit.  And so I did.

Quikclot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge: A must for any first aid or emergency kit, Quikclot Sport stops moderate to severe bleeding until further medical help is available.

Israeli Battle Dressing, 6-inch Compression Bandage: This is another inexpensive, yet critical item. Combat medics, trauma doctors, and emergency responders all recommend this Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD) for the treatment of gunshot wounds, puncture wounds, deep cuts, and other traumatic hemorrhagic injuries.

iOSAT Potassium Iodide Tablets, 130 mg (14 Tablets): I never go anywhere without Potassium Iodide.  After Fukushima, you just never know when a nuclear disaster will strike unexpectedly and I refuse to rely on the authorities to be there with adequate supplies.

Victorinox Swiss Army Climber II Pocket Knife: This is the Swiss army knife that both Shelly and I carry.  It includes the following: large and small blades, two standard screwdrivers, bottle and can openers, a corkscrew, a wire stripper, scissors, key ring, reamer, and parcel hook. In addition, there is a tweezers and a toothpick that pull out of the end.

Veridian 60-second Digital Thermometer:  Every kit needs a thermometer.  This compact version uses standard sized watch batteries.

Betadine Antiseptic or Dynarex Povidone Iodine Prep Solution: Either can be used diluted as a disinfecting solution for wounds.  Also good for day to day cuts and scrapes.

Tincture of Benzoin: This is another one of those items I had never heard of.  Its purpose is to hold a bandage or dressing in place.

Irrigation Syringe, pack of 5:  I had a few of these left over from visits to the dentist but it never occurred to put them in my first aid kit.  I now realize that they are an excellent tool for flushing wounds.

No Rinse Cleansing & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes:  One wipe is more than enough for a complete “bath”.  These are a good backup when traditional showers are not available such as the week or weeks following a disaster.  Also good for the sick room as well as camping, boating, hiking and such.  Here is my review.

12 Color Pack Bandana – Assorted Colors:  This is the #1 seller in the bandana category. I love these bandanas and you will often see me wearing them in photos here on the website. Be sure to read How to Use a Bandana to Save the Day.

Spark Naturals Health and Wellness Kit:  This kit comes packaged in a tin and includes a brochure with suggested uses for each of the oils. It includes all of my favorites, including Lemon, Frankincense, Oregano, Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Rosemary, Lavender, Amend (Soothing Blend), Respire (Respiratory Blend), Shield (Protective Blend), and Peppermint.  Use the discount code  “BACKDOORSURVIVAL” to receive a 10% discount.


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Essential Oils for the First Aid Kit

Consider adding an assortment of health and wellness related essential oils to your first aid kit.  At a minimum, include melaleuca (tea tree), lavender, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, and clove oils.  At a cost of less than $45, these six essential oils will serve you well in a wide variety of first aid and emergency situations.

You can read about these and other healing essential oils in 20 All Purpose Remedies Using Essential Oils or other articles on this archive page: Interested in Learning About Essential Oils.

For an even broader selection of oils consider this Spark Naturals Health and Wellness Kit which includes a total of 10 oils and blends, nicely packaged on a tin that is perfect for your first aid kit.  And note that with any purchase from Spark Naturals you will enjoy a 10% discount by using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.

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29 Responses to “How to Create an Emergency Ammo Can First Aid Kit”

  1. Cayenne Pepper Powder added to your med kit. It is causic in nature (Burning sensation) Stops bleeding immediately in as little as 10 seconds. Wound stayed closed in subsequent days and healed much faster than expected. Cayenne can be sprinkled directly onto the wound with no modification to the cayenne whatsoever. The cayenne can also be dissolved in a bit of water and used to saturate a piece of gauze that is placed over the wound area. For external bleeding, Cayenne can also be placed directly on an external cut to stop bleeding. You may completely pack the wound if you have enough pepper.

    In addition to stopping the bleeding from exterior wounds, cayenne also works for internal hemorrhages inside the nose, stomach and throat. In these cases, of course, the cayenne must be taken orally. For internal bleeding: Take one tablespoon of cayenne in a cup of water to stop the bleeding.

    Did you know that in the Old West, herbalists would use cayenne pepper to save people from gunshot wounds? Mixed with water in the form of a ‘tea’, very hot cayenne pepper would be mixed with water and given orally to the victim. In most cases, by the time the herbalist would count to ten, the bleeding would stop.

  2. Plano makes an orange marine box with an O-ring seal that makes a good first aid box. A red one would be better, but I couldn’t find one.

    Great article, even if I’m late to the party!

    Thank you….

  3. A major item you forgot , TOOTH ACHE MEDICINE . I keep a small bottle of tooth ache drops and a small package of the medicated tooth packing medicine . Don’t take up much space and believe me a bad tooth can take you completely out of the game.

    • Actually, I didn’t forget. My favorite toothache remedy is Clove Bud essential oil. This is also what my dentist prescribes. Good thought, though.

  4. The little entrepreneur in my is wondering on the pricing out of a kit like this. Besides the awesomeness factor and customability, any inherent reason to do this over putting say a Walmart Red Cross kit into a ammo box?

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