When you are travelling offshore to destinations unknown, then you need to have a fully stocked medical kit on board to enable you to cope with any situation. You could be at sea for days or weeks – which makes getting to a pharmacy quite difficult. Then when you arrive at one of the deserted islands you are planning on exploring, their medical facilities could be either non-existant, or lacking some of the medications that could be required.
New Zealand registered yachts sailing offshore are required to have a very comprehensive kit. Many of the medicines listed in the kit are only available by prescription, so you will need to take the list to your doctor, or to a company who specialises in producing kits for boats. Oceania Medical is a good example. They have special dispensation to be able to provide these prescription medications.
They produce brilliant medical kits for boats. All based around the Yachting NZ Category requirements.
The Cat 1 kit is for offshore boats and comes in a very smart, soft case which has different compartments inside. These contain different kits for different medical requirements. One contains everything you need to deal with trauma and wounds, another contains medications and so on. There is a seperate pouch for storing your first aid manual, and straps so you can carry the kit on your back.
The Cat 3 kit comes in a small dry bag and has a list of the contents and individually sealed packs inside which means you can see if they have been opened and if therefore anything needs replacing.
Oceania Medical can restock your kits if things have been used or are expired.
It is a good idea to wait until just before you depart to stock your kit with the medicines listed so that you get a bit more shelf life out of the products that expire.
Other requirements for the Yachting NZ Category 1 specifications are:
If anyone on board has any special medical requirements and medications, that they have at least twice the amount that they need for the trip – half to be held with the crew member and the other half in the grab bag.
At least two crew members on board should hold a current first aid certificate (The Marine Medic Course is brilliant). There should also be a first aid manual on board.
If you have children on board, then you will also need to have medicine suitable for them.
Here is the Yachting NZ Cat 1 Offshore List. The items listed as recommended are not compulsory to have in the kit.
Trauma & Wounds
- 5 x Combine dressing 20x30cm – large dressing pads
- 1 x crepe bandage 15cm
- 1 x crepe bandage 10cm – these are to be used as a general bandage if bleeding isn’t too severe.
- Elastoplast Fabric Dressing – can be used for larger wounds and cut to length required.
- Emergency Bandage – 10cm – used for large vigorously bleeding wounds. May be tightened and used as a tourniquet as required. Watch a video here on how to do this here. Check the blood flow to fingers and toes below the bandage, and loosen as bleeding settles.
- 1 x CPR face shield
- 1 x Triangular bandage
- 2 x survival sheet Emergency Mylar Blankets – 84″ x 52″ (4 Pack)
- Supply of latex gloves
- Cling wrap or plastic bags – for covering burns. Firstly cool the burn by immersing in cold water for 20-30 minutes and then cover in strips of glad wrap. Burns swell so do NOT tightly wrap.
- Ice packs
- Iodine Solution – used for cleaning wounds and can be used in the ears, eyes and mouth.
- 20 x bandaids
- 1 x dressing strip 1m
- 2 x paraffin gauznet 5x5cm – for weeping wounds
- 5 x splinter probes
- 20 x gauze squares
- 5 x non-stick dressings
- 1 x paper tape 1.25cm
- 1 x sports strapping tape
- 1 x wound closures/steri strips
- Suture kit
- Skin stapler
- Scalpel blades
- Finger dressing
- 20 x Paracetamol tablets 500mg – a simple pain reliever.
- 20 x Panadeine – moderate pain reliever
- 24 x Aspirin – pain reliever and also used in suspected heart attack
- 24 x Ibuprofen 200mg tablets – anti inflammatory/moderate pain relief
- 12 x Tramadol 50mg tablets – strong pain relief – Prescription
- 5 x morphine sulphate injection – Controlled Drug – only to be given with the advice of a doctor
- 5 x saline eye wash
- 1 x Liquifilm Tears – eye drops
- 2 x MINIMAS Amethocaine drops – eye anaesthetic, used to numb the eye and allow removal of a foreign body – Prescription
- 2 x MINIMAS Fluorescein eye drops – eye stain to find foreign bodies – Prescription
- Chloromycetin eye ointment – for eye infections. If there is a foreign body in the eye wash out with saline solution first. May also be used for local skin infections – Prescription
- Framycetin Sulphate drops – Eye/ear antibiotic – Prescription
- 20 x antacid tablets
- 30 x zantac tablets – severe indigestion – Recommended – Prescription
- 10 x oral re hydration powder – or use water with sugar and a pinch of salt. Give in small amounts
- 12 x Imodium tablets – to slow diarrhoea
- Loperamide tablets – for diarrhoea. Take 1-2 with each loose motion. Maximum of 8 per day.
- 50 x Buccastem 3mg tablets – to treat vomiting
- Stemetil suppositories – used in severe prolonged vomiting. Placed in the patients tail end. Side effects include ‘funny movements’ Needs extra rehydration – water with sugar and a pinch of salt.
- 10 x Maxolon 10mg – for severe vomiting and use in conjunction with morphine – Prescription
- 30 x coloxyl with senna tablets or Dulcolax tablets – relieves constipation
- 40 x Flagyl 200mg – antibacterial – Recommended – Prescription
- 40 x Penicillin based antibiotic tablets – Prescription
- 100 x Doxycycline 100m tablets – broad spectrum antibiotic used for general infections and if allergic to penicillin – Prescription
- 10 x Cefuroxime 750mg Injection – Strong antibiotic injection for severe life threatening infections – Prescription
- 12 x anti-histamine – allergy control, hay fever.
- 30 x Phenergan tablets – strong antihistamine – Recommended
- 5 x Adrenaline 1:1000 injection – Anaphylaxis this is severe allergic reaction to medicine or stings. Inject on the outer edge of the thigh, and if severe give the whole ampule – Prescription
- 5 x Promethazine HCI 25mg injection – severe allergic reaction, sedating – Prescription
- 5 x Diazepam 10mg injection – convulsions, muscle relaxant
- 4 x bactroban – antibacterial skin ointment – Prescription
- 2 x Hydrocortisone cream 1% – skin allergies and rashes
- 1 x Anti-fungal cream – fungal infections
- 1 x Eurax cream – hives, stings, anti itch
- Nitrolingual spray – used in severe chest pain/suspected heart attack. Spray two pumps under the tongue and call for help.
- Thermometer – use under the armpit or under the tongue (wash between uses -eew!) normal temperature is 36.5C-37.5C
- Insect repellent
- 20 alcohol swabs
- 15 x syringe 3ml
- 10 x syringe 10ml
- 20 x hypodermic needle
- Intravenous fluid – used only under the direction of a medical officer. Note that all air must be drained from the giving set first or you can kill the patient!
- Oral Airways ADC Guedel Airway Kit, w/hard case 43000
- Sam splint
- Neck brace
- Scissors – used to tidy up wound edges – should be sterile (boil for 30 mins)
Anything I am missing? What first aid or medical emergencies have you had on your boat/travels?
Click here to read about more Medical Matters.