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What’s in your blowout kit?

May 23, 2021

There’s a fair bit of interest in preparedness these days. Unfortunately, once a topic becomes relatively popular, questionable and even bad information seems to multiply. Add that to the reality that since companies which sell preparedness gear are in business to make money by meeting a need (which means there will be some whose only real interest is separating you from your money) and the questionable/bad information only increases more.

I have been a registered nurse, if not long enough to qualify as an old nurse, then at least long enough to qualify as a “seasoned” one. Before that, I was an EMT. In addition, preparedness as part of a healthy lifestyle is something I practice. It frustrates me, then, to encounter bad information when it comes to medical or health preparedness. I’m not the go to person when it comes to questions like “what’s the best survival firearm,” if only because my desire to have one of everything (and ammunition to go with all of them) is probably neither realistic nor helpful. When it comes to first aid supplies, though, I’m a little more capable.

What is a blowout kit, anyway?

I’m glad you asked. A blowout kit is an individual first aid kit (IFAK) designed to allow you to treat potentially life threatening injuries. The items in it are intended to help keep you or someone else alive until more definitive care can be obtained.* You don’t have to call it a blowout kit, if you find that too weird. After all, one of the most important rules of preparedness, if you’re going to successfully teach others is “don’t be weird,” so call it whatever works for you. Regardless of what you call it, it’s a good idea to have it. This is particularly true if you are a hunter/fisherman/camper/hiker. It’s even more so if you practice these pastimes in remote areas. I used to hunt and fish by myself, before the age of cell phones, miles from the nearest person. I’ve lived and worked on farms and fishing boats. In those and similar circumstances, if you get hurt, professional help may be delayed too long for you to wait for it.

There are three basic emergencies for which I think you should be prepared. Those are significant hemorrhage, a tension pneumothorax, and an airway obstruction. Please note that while I will tell you what I recommend be in your kit, I am not recommending that you buy and prepare to use these things without proper training. Do yourself and other people a favor and get the training. The cost in negligible compared to the value of what you learn.


We aren’t talking here about bleeding you can stop with a Band-Aid or even with super glue. We’re talking about bleeding you must get under control immediately to prevent death. (“Oh no. I seem to have severed my foot with a chain saw”). For that I recommend the following items.

  • QuikClot or Celox
  • Israeli or pressure bandage
  • Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT)/Tactical tourniquet
  • 4×4 gauze
  • Tape
  • Mini “Sharpie” or other permanent marker. Why? Take the class and find out.

Tension Pneumothorax

These are bad. (Why, oh why is his trachea shifting to the side like that?) They are also treatable with just a little training and a few supplies. (Take the class and learn a new use for that credit card!)

  • Chest seal
  • Decompression needle. I’m not going to tell you what size. Take the damn class.

Obstructed airway**

Breathing is important. If the air doesn’t go in and out, we die. (“I wonder if all that stuff in there is why his face is turning blue.”)

  • Nasopharyngeal airway (NPA). What size and how/when does it go in? All together, now: “Take the class!”
  • Water soluble lubricant

Toss in some nitrile gloves and maybe a pair of trauma shears (they don’t have to be titanium) and you should be good to go.

Oh, in case I haven’t mentioned it, you should take courses to learn how to properly utilize these items.

*If circumstances require the use of these items, follow-up care by a trained professional is essential.

**Note that some people will suggest you can also use some of the supplies above for an emergency cricothyrotomy. I cannot tell you just how much life is going to suck if that becomes your only option for restoring or preserving an airway. I’ve done one. They suck donkey balls. Want to know how to do it, too? Take even more courses.

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  1. Old NFO permalink

    Good points, and I have 2, one on me when I shoot, and one in my med go bag.

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