Your Boat First Aid Kit Checklist

Boat first aid kit checklist

Whether you’re hitting the water for a few hours or a few days, there are several important items that should always stay on your boat. One of the most crucial is a boat first aid kit. Optimized for water travel and filled with items to treat several different types of injuries, the best boat first aid kit will have everything you need to provide initial care for a bodily emergency on your watercraft. Wondering what you need to include in your kit? Read our comprehensive boat first aid list to find out. 

Essential #1: A Waterproof Container

First on our list of boat first aid kit requirements is a waterproof container. This is the last line of defense between water-sensitive first aid items (such as bandages, medications, and electronics) and the most abundant compound found near a boat. Make sure your container has a hard shell made of plastic, PVC, or waterproof metal, and make sure that it has a watertight seal so nothing seeps in. Last but not least, make sure it’s large enough to hold all of your small first aid essentials. (Sometimes, this may require getting two or more containers.)

Essential #2: Dressings, Bandages, Gloves, and Masks

One broad category of items that should be included in a boat first aid kit is wearable items that go over the surface of the body. These are commonly used to cover wounds or protect those giving aid. They include:

  • Nitrile or latex gloves
  • A protective face to cover the nose and mouth
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Small, medium, and large gauze pads
  • Absorbent dressings / abdominal dressings
  • Non-adherent dressings
  • Kerlix or roller gauze
  • Adhesive bandages (like Band-Aids)
  • Coban (vet wrap)
  • Elastic bandages (ACE Wrap)
  • Tape
  • Splints

Essential #3: Items for Cutting or Fastening

In order to apply bandages, cut gauze down to size, or treat major injuries, you may need specialized tools. These are the tools you should put in your boat’s first aid kit:boat first aid kit

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Forceps
  • Several syringes
  • Safety pins
  • A scalpel or razor
  • A headlamp or flashlight
  • A thermometer

Essential #3: Temperature-Controlling Solutions

On the water, changes in temperature can play big roles in many emergencies. We’ve already mentioned a thermometer, but here are several more temperature-based items you’ll need to include in your boat’s first aid kit:

  • An extra blanket or two
  • Hot packs and cold packs
  • A lighter

Essential #4: Topical Medications

For surface wounds, topical medications are essential to aid. These are the topical solutions you should have inside the first aid kit on your boat.

  • Tincture of benzoin
  • Antiseptic solution (chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine)
  • Double antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Alcohol-based hand-cleansing gel
  • Petroleum jelly or water-based lubricant

Essential #5: Oral Medications

Alongside topical medications, your boat’s first aid kit should contain a number of general-purpose medications for oral consumption. They include:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Loperamide (Imodium)
  • Antacid (like calcium carbonate)

Essential #6: Boating-Specific Additions 

In addition to the many essentials mentioned above, there are a few more boating-specific items that you should absolutely have in your boating first aid kit. These include:

  • (Extra) tincture of benzoin to adhere bandages to skin
  • Dimenhydrinate or Meclizine for seasickness
  • Silicon tape to water out of wounds 
  • (Extra) hot and cold packs to provide pain relief in the event of a sting
  • Aloe gel for sunburn relief
  • (Extra) sunscreen

Essential #7: Out-of-Kit First Aid Essentials

Last on our list of boat first aid kit essentials are big-ticket items that won’t fit in your first aid containers. These items typically pertain to rescue rather than first aid, but they are no less vital than those mentioned above. They include:

  • Lifejackets (enough for every person on the boat)
  • One or two throwable floatation rings
  • Wetsuits for cold water
  • A lifeboat
  • A backup, chargeable generator

Learn More and Get Certified in First Aid Here SureFire CPR

Is a first aid kit required on a boat? Absolutely. But without proper training, even the best first aid kit is all but useless. Should an emergency strike on your boat, you need to be prepared. The best way to do that is to get certified. Here at SureFire CPR, we proudly offer accredited Basic First Aid certification courses to individuals across Southern California. Led by highly-experienced instructors, many of whom have worked as lifeguards in professional capacities providing emergency aid on watercraft, our CPR and Basic First Aid courses will give you the fundamentals you need to help kids and adults on your boat. Contact us to learn more, and enroll with our team today!

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About the author

I spent 15 years as a firefighter and paramedic...

And too often I would arrive on the scene of someone unconscious, surrounded by a circle of people feeling helpless. Sometimes those people would even have CPR training but lacked the confidence and experience to act.

That’s why I started SureFire CPR. Our classes are practical and engaging – teaching you the crucial skills you need to know what to do and feel empowered to take action.

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Zack Zarrilli, Founder

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