Commuting 101: First Aid Kits

This morning I was riding through the woods when, suddenly, a bee hit me in the neck. No biggie, I thought; at least it didn’t sting me. I continued on my way and after another half mile I started thinking how fortunate I was not to end up like RickyD.

A few moments later I felt a frantic buzz inside my shirt, just above one of my backpack’s straps.

I was in the woods with no place to really pull over so I had to pedal another half minute until I found a clear spot (shown above) at the side of the trail. Off came my back pack and I started fluffing my shirt with all my might. Finally the bee fell out the bottom of my shirt and flew away.

I can’t remember if I’m allergic to bee stings or not. I know my 14 year-old son has very nasty allergic reactions to bee stings, so I’ve decided I need to start carrying a First Aid Kit with some benadryl in my back-pack along with some aspirin, wipes, bandages, etc. The American Red Cross has some nice suggestions, but I need to keep whatever I pack fairly compact. What do you carry, or what else would you suggest bike commuters carry in a First Aid Kit?

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0 thoughts on “Commuting 101: First Aid Kits”

  1. Fritz says:

    Carrying some diphenhydramine for bug bites isn’t a bad idea.

    For commuting I don’t carry anything extra or special except my albuterol rescue inhaler. Anything requiring just first aid I can live with until I get to my destination or at least a bathroom.

    It’s been a few years since it’s happened, but typical first-aid for me is road rash from washing out on wet or sandy road while taking a corner too fast. I find a public restroom or hose and wash out my wound. I’ve even used Gatorade from my drink bottle — squiirt. Once I reach civilization I’ll clean it better and bandage myself up.

  2. Val says:

    For me, the gateway item was an “Ouch Pouch” given away free at Bike to Work Day several years ago. It had some disinfectant wipes, antibiotic salve, and several bandages. I never used any of it on myself, but it came in so handy on several occasions that it wasn’t long before it was used up. I then graduated to a $2.00 pocket sized first aid kit from the local drugstore, augmented with several large bandages, antihistamine (I am also allergic to bee stings), tweezers and scissors. Once I recieved CPR training, I realized that I also needed a CPR mask and latex gloves, or the training was superfluous. The resulting kit is a plastic box, about 3″ X 4″ X 5″. Not the sort of thing to put into a jersey pocket, but not bad in the bottom of a pannier. It has been used and replenished several times, and I have never regretted having it.

  3. Brent says:

    Well, it depends on how allergic your kid is to bees. If he or she goes into anaphylactic shock from a bee sting you better have an epinephrine shot around at all times (it is an adrenaline shot). I used to have to carry this around before they (doctors) found I wouldn’t react so severely anymore to bee stings anymore. But if he or she does go into anaphylactic shock, you only have a few minuets before they are dead so I would get the severity of the allergy checked out.


  4. Shaun says:

    I’m allergic to fire ant bites, and here in Texas they are everywhere.

    My kit is as follows, to cover all bases;

    Vet Wrap (that flexy wrap stuff that only sticks to itself. I’m allergic to band-aid adhesive so that with the gauze does the trick)
    Baby wipes

  5. Noah says:

    I use the zipper pouch that came with my Omron HRM. It’s about 4″ x 5″ x 1″.

    2x Neosporin Neo-To-Go
    2x Alcohol Wipes (like what they use before giving you a shot)
    2x Benzocaine/Lidocaine Bite/Sting swabs
    A few gauze pads and medical tape
    Several band-aids, various sizes
    A few Tegaderm dressings
    Some Tylenol
    A few brown paper napkins from some restaurant
    Some old expired photographer’s sodium thiosulfate (usually called hypo or fixer) double-bagged in sealed baggies.
    2x of those goofy air-activated foot warmer things

    If you mix a little bit of water with the hypo, the mixture gets quite cool — Cold enough that you can wrap it up in napkins or gauze and have a cold pack that will relieve minor pain and swelling long enough for an NSAID (such as Tylenol) to kick in or help to arrive.

    It all fits in a nice, tiny pouch that I can keep in the panniers, backpack, or a jersey pocket.

  6. I originally put together my first aid kit from an article in Bicycling around 20 years ago. I don’t take it with me commuting, it’s in the trunk bag on my touring bike for longer rides. It looks like I need to replace some of the stuff in it!!

    Contents of Bicycle First Aid Box (now a bag)

    Swiss Army Knife (Tinker model)
    Two quarters
    Two dollar bills
    One roll adhesive tape, 1/2 inch. waterproof.

    Plastic bag containing:

    Bike To Work Day First Aid kit contents

    One blank identification card
    Two Band Aids, 1/2 inch
    Three Di Gel tablets
    One package of Two Tylenol Extra Strength Geltabs, expired 2/96
    One package alcohol prep wipe

    Plastic bag containing:

    One 4 in. x 4 in. Sterile Pad
    Three 3 in. x 3 in. Sterile Gauze Pads
    Two 2 in. x 3 in. Sterile Non-Stick Pads
    Six 2 in. x 2 in. Sterile Pads
    One package Betadine Swab Aid pad, expired 1/92
    One roll Dermalinte II tape, 3/4 inch
    Four Band Aids, 1/2 inch
    One package of Two Tylenol Extra Strength Geltabs, expired 2/98
    Two Bendryl capsules, expired 6/99
    Four Butterfly Closures
    One Chapstick
    Two Moist Towelettes
    Two Di Gel tablets, loose and dirty.
    One Film Can containing:
    One pair Folding Scissors
    One Needle
    One First Aid Kit Inventory card, laminated

    Missing Items:
    Insect Sting kit
    Pills that are unexpired!

  7. Mark says:

    I want to second what Brent said, you should definitely have a talk with your kids doctor and talk about epinephrine (epi pens). They are amazingly effective against allergic reactions. If your kid is highly allergic, he should have one with him at all times. At 14, he should be responsible enough to carry it and know his friends shouldn’t mess around with it.

    As for bees, I don’t know whether it’s just my bad luck or what, but I’ve now caught four bees in my helmet. I’ve often wondered what someone must think when they see this cyclist, who was cruising along, suddenly pull off to the side of the road and rip his helmet off. Unfortunately, I’ve lost the race and been stung all four times. Fortunately, I’m not allergic and it’s just induces a headache.

  8. Dan says:

    How do they check if you need an epi pen or not? I was stung in my hand when I was a child and my hand swelled up pretty good and every since I have carried an epi pen around when doing outdoor activities. I am unsure how allegeric I am since it didn’t affect my breathing too much.

  9. Brent says:

    Dan, I would go see an Allergist and they can do a test or a series of tests to determine whether or not you still need an epi pen or not. I used to carry one around with me at all times but was tested in high school and found out I will just swell badly wherever I get stung. I was then stung 3 days later twice to do just that, but didn’t have any other issues than that. So that is my suggestion from personal experience.

  10. John says:

    My wife and I use and carry the Utah Mountain Bike Association Biking BooBoo First Aid kit… check it out here…

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