We want to compile a cottage first aid kit. What items should we include?
—Daniel Warder, via e-mail
An off-the-shelf kit will have most of the necessities, but to create a cottageready kit, think about the hazards you’re more likely to find in cottage country (bugs, wildlife, pollen and other asthma triggers, the sun, poorly fitting hiking boots), and the potential difficulties of being in a remote location without easily accessible clean water and electricity. So, key items include antibiotic creams, antihistamines, moleskin for blisters, saline solution or sterile water, and ice packs that don’t need freezing. (If you leave these things in the cottage over winter, check with the manufacturers to be sure they’re okay to use after they’ve frozen and thawed.)
Janelle Warren, of the Canadian Red Cross, suggests adding a splint, since “it’s handy for injuries when help is farther away.” Similarly, a butterfly bandage—meant to keep the edges of a wound together so it doesn’t gape—is useful for a cut that can’t be stitched until you get to the ER. Warren’s other must-haves include gauze, triangular bandages, and nitrile gloves, made out of hypoallergenic synthetic rubber. For the times when a first-aid kit just won’t cut it, Christine Maurer, a registered nurse and the education coordinator at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, recommends you keep emergency contact numbers and info beside the phone or on the fridge. Another tip: Along with written directions to the cottage, keep a prepared list of questions to ask the injured, who may be guests or neighbours you don’t know well, says Maurer. Do they have allergies? Do they take medications? Do they have a history of medical problems? Getting as much information right away will really help the advancedcare people when they step in, says Maurer. “Writing these questions down and keeping them in your kit will remind you to ask.”