Letter: “Be Smart Get Prepared” First Aid Kit


Scot’s review made me decide to review what I carry in my car trunk– the Be Smart Get Prepared First Aid Kit sold by Sam’s Club. It was designed as a kit for a small office and meets OSHA and ANSI requirements for such use. The cost is $19.98, so it is less expensive than the Chinook MinimalistPak, even though it is larger.

The Be Smart kit comes in a sturdy plastic case with a rubber gasket around where the lid meets the case. It appears this was intended to make the case waterproof when closed, but the tolerances are not good enough to give me confidence in how watertight it is. None the less the case is good enough to keep the contents dry in the rain while removing it from my car trunk. The case has spare compartments, which allow me to easily supplement the contents. The size is large enough to allow me to include a printed copy of our local County’s Emergency Guide, a small flashlight, a small Swiss Army Knife, and supplemental first-aid items (see below).

Contents include:

  • 21 antiseptic towelettes
  • 36 alcohol prep pads
  • 6 sting relief pads
  • 6 antibiotic ointment packets
  • 6 burn cream ointments
  • 10 antacid tablets
  • 10 aspirin tablets
  • 10 non-aspirin tablets
  • 1 instant cold compress 6″ x 9″
  • 1 English First Aid guide
  • 1 Spanish First Aid guide
  • 20 adhesive bandages 1″ x 3″
  • 50 adhesive bandages 3/8″ x 1-1/2″
  • 60 adhesive bandages 3″ x 3/4″
  • 10 butterfly closures bandages
  • 18 wound closure strips 1/4″ x 1-1/2″
  • 2 gauze rolls 2″ x 4.1 yds.
  • 2 eye pads
  • 8 sterile gauze pads 2″ x 2″
  • 4 sterile gauze pads 4″ x 4″
  • 1 sterile trauma pad 5″ x 9″
  • 30 cotton tip applicators
  • 1 adhesive tape roll 1″ x 5 yds.
  • 5 finger splints
  • 1 triangular bandage 40″ x 40″ x 56″
  • 1 tweezer
  • 1 metal scissor
  • 4 examination gloves

It does not include the Emergency/Survival Blanket, Elastic Bandage Wrap, Flat Duct Tape, Burn Jel, Moleskin, Non-Adherent Dressing, Povidone-Iodine Prep Pad, Anti-diarrheal, or Oral Rehydration Salts that the Chinook MinimalistPak contains but has larger quantities of many other items, since it was designed as an office kit. It contains alcohol prep pads, sting relief pads, burn cream ointments, instant cold compress 6″ x 9″, eye pads, cotton tip applicators, adhesive tape roll 1″ x 5 yds., finger splints, and triangular bandage 40″ x 40″ x 56″, not found in the Chinook MinimalistPak.

The contents of the kit are individually packed in heat-sealed sterile packets, which are in turn organized in plastic compartments in two layers inside the sturdy plastic case. There were enough empty compartments that I was able to put some medicines including anti-diarrheal from our supply at home into tiny zip-lock bags and add them to the kit. I also added a few sizes of Telfa non-stick pads.

As a car first-aid kit thrown in the trunk, I prefer the solid plastic case over soft zipper bags for protection of the contents. I also appreciate the many internal compartments, which keep things organized.

Like the Chinook MinimalistPak, the items with expiration dates had dates reasonably far in the future. – RAR

HJL Replies: Thanks for the review of that kit. As an EMT-B, I find most kits are okay for small scrapes and cuts, but they’re practically useless when dealing with trauma. I used to carry and depend upon a small belt first aid kit that was a bit bulky on the belt but was easy to throw in the car under the seat or in a backpack. I still carry that same kit, as it has cool tools and small packs of antispetic and bandages. However, I will never forget the first time I stopped at a motorcycle accident to render help. I stood there like a fool with my neat little first aid kit wondering what I had to stop the massive bleeding from the rider’s head. I ended up using a small blanket I had in the truck, but I swore I would never be caught flat footed again. The kits are a nice starting point, but none of them have enough gauze or bandage wrap in them. I now carry copious amounts of rolled gauze and 4×4 squares as an addition to any kit I use. You can even turn your old bed sheets into useful bandages by ripping them into 4” wide strips and rolling them. Also, be careful of the 3M elastic, self stick bandage rolls (or similar non-adhesive bandages). The heat of a car and age can make it near impossible to unwrap these rolls in a hurry.