Boat First Aid Kits – What Do I Need?

First Aid Advice

first aid
Bryan Zitren is excited there is a first aid kit onboard.

Heading offshore to go fishing? Or just going out for a cruise? What type of First Aid Kit should I put on my boat?

This is a great question! I understand there are many types of Kits available and that some folks have more training than others which would allow them to have an advanced kit, however, let’s focus on the basics. This is a huge topic and we will only touch the surface.

The first three questions you should ask yourself when buying a kit or putting one together:

  • How long or far will I be gone?
  • How many passengers will I have?
  • What type of activities are planned?

first aidYour answers to these questions will help dictate what type of kit to get.

Let’s look at a basic kit from West Marine (Coastal First Aid Kit)-Everything is over the counter.

Included in the first aid kit

  • 22-adhesive bandages
  • 1-medical tape
  • 10-antiseptic wipes
  • 6-first aid/burn cream
  • 1-guaze bandage
  • 2-guaze pads
  • 12-motion sickness tablets
  • 12-non-aspirin tablets
  • 1-cold pack
  • 1-large wound pad
  • 3-sting relief wipes
  • First Aid Instructions

So that’s the list. Let’s break it down.

first-aid tipsWhatever you bring with you offshore is only useful if you know how to use it. Understand what you have and how to use it!

  • VHF Radio: This alone will save lives! If you have any medical concerns do not hesitate to ask for help!
  • cpr aidFirst Aid Instructions: I feel strongly that anyone who operates a vessel should have CPR training, period! Any further training is only a plus. Contact the American Heart Association to sign up for a class.
  • Bandages and Gauze pads and Tape: Good for minor cuts/scrapes
  • Motion sickness tablets: For those of you who have been sea sick, this is a must! There are many options but understand there are medications that help to prevent sea sickness (scopolamine patch) and others that treat motion sickness once it already happens (ex. Dramamine, Bonine)
  • Anti-inflammatory medications (Advil)
  • Cold Pack: Help relieve pain for bumps and bruises and even stings
  • Sting relief wipes: Good for relief from stings above and below the surface
  • Burn cream: Please see my Melanoma Article-Don’t get burned, literally!

first aidI do think having the above is a great start for folks going offshore. Buts lets add a few more things!

  • Aspirin: (Chest Pain- Discuss with medical personnel on Channel 16 if you should administer)
  • Tylenol: Headache and Pain
  • Benadryl: Good for mild allergic reactions
  • CPR Mask: Ask about this when you take your CPR class
  • bolt cuttersBolt Cutters: Cut the eye or barb off a hook. We don’t have time to discuss how to remove a hook from your skin but if you only need to push it through to remove this will allow that.
  • Tampons: Be a hero!
  • Tweezer: Fiberglass splinters aren’t fun
  • Tourniquet and Combat Gauze (Quik Clot): They only work if you know how to use them, so get proper training (I like the MAT tourniquet). However, major bleeding (shark attack, propeller, etc) you would only have minutes to act. These items could make all the difference.

first aidThis is a great place to start. Adding more advanced items will depend on the activities planned and your training level.

Important: Many of you share rides or end up bringing people offshore you have never met.

Ask them if they have any medical problems? (Heart problems, Diabetes (does he/she take insulin), kidney stones, etc. You can not only share stories about how Lasix pills make you urinate all of the time but can also be prepared to offer this information if needed.


  • Do not hesitate to ask for help. Safety should be a priority (Channel 16)
  • Get CPR training
  • Know about any pertinent medical issues of folks on your boat
  • If you buy a first aid kit or put one together know what is in it and how to use it

Please share stories about how any of these items have helped you, or tell us about items we did not mention. As always please feel free to contact me at bgeno1226 on the Bloodydecks forum if you have any questions.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Check out the great First Aid Kits from Cuda Brand.

 Resources: Marine Medicine, A Comprehensive Guide by Eric A Weiss, M.D. and Michael E. Jacobs, M.D.

Brad Genovese. I was born and raised in Laguna Niguel, California. He has been greatly blessed to have incredible parents that introduced him to sport fishing, hunting, and travel at an early age. Growing up he spent many summers fishing and diving the Sea of Cortez. Brad says, “Although my entire...