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I completed our offshore sailing medical kit and am super proud of it!
In our offshore emergency medicine class, we covered a lot of important topics regarding health and safety at sea. The professors provided us with an example inventory. We also had a good discussion during our class of what we should have onboard. Our book outlines various medicines and uses of each medication. We also got to have “labs” with some of the medical equipment, including the Aqua-C, stethoscope, and using needles on grocery store meat.
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Go through all of your medicine cabinets and pull out anything medical related. Check expiration dates on all of your items, and toss accordingly. You may already own items that would be beneficial. We had a few grocery store medical skits that had some surprisingly useful things in them.
You should have all of your routine exams done just before you go traveling anyway, so take the opportunity to explain to your doctors what your plans are and discuss concerns. At the very minimum, go see your GYN, dermatologist, and PCP.
The biggest take away from our dermatologist was, of course, sunscreen! We discussed best kinds to use and what to look for when purchasing sunscreens. A really cool dermatologist will send you home with a bunch of free samples to try out, which is especially good if you have sensitive skin.
We also got really lucky with our new primary care physician. She is a sailor herself, and has her own offshore sailing medical kit. We presented a list of our inventory to her, and she gave us tips about various medications and even added some to our list. She wrote prescriptions for us for everything we asked for.
I ordered most items for our offshore sailing medical kit online, using our Amazon Prime account. A lot of items on our list come in larger quantities they we need. For example, I ordered large transparent bandages, which came in a pack of 10. As a result, we have a excessive supply of items, which I have put into a box to give out to (hopefully) a needy clinic somewhere. As items came in, I unpacked them to fit better in the medical kit, and put everything in plastic zip-lock bags to keep it dry.
Aqua-C hydration needles are a subcutaneous IV system to deliver fluids to a dehydrated patient. Neither David or I have experience placing an IV, but the AQUA-C is much simpler to use, which will enable us to easily treat dehydration.
Fentanyl – Fentanyl is a quick acting, schedule II opiate. Our class discussed discussed Fentanyl as a way to provide almost instant pain relief in an extreme case. Our class also discussed that it would be difficult to acquire. I tried my best to get some, but we are not going to have any onboard. Our doctor wrote a prescription for Fentanyl, but we had to find a pharmacy that can fill the prescription. Pharmacies must be enrolled in a special program to dispense Fentanyl. The pharmacy we found told us that our doctor needed to be enrolled in the program as well in order to get the prescription filled. In addition, if our insurance didn’t cover it, the Lazanda (nasal Fentanyl) would have been almost $500.
IV Fluids – Finding a pharmacy to fill the IV fluids prescription was also difficult, as most pharmacies don’t provide IV fluids to the general population.
Quick grab bag – We will have a quick grab medical kit just inside our companion way, which will have our Epi-pens and our NuMask CPR tool for emergency use.
Excursion kit – In our medical kit, we have a small “travel” size medical kit, for treating things such as scrapes and boo-boos on the go during hiking or town activities. This is stored in our hiking backpack.
Seasickness – While David and I have never had bad seasickness (other than lethargy for me) we are going to be in more extreme conditions than we have ever been in. There are many methods to combat seasickness. Our professors recommended having at least 3 on board, as you don’t know which one may work best for you. We will be carrying:
– Meclizine (OTC pill)
– Ondansetron (RX pill)
– Scopolamine (RX pill)
– Promethazine (RX suppository)
– ReliefBand Motion Sickness Band
(OTC electrical device)
I put together a detailed inventory of our offshore sailing medical kit. You can view our medical inventory here. Or, you can download a .csv here. I censored this list a bit, but our real inventory has a column for uses and directions, as well as the location where we can find each item. In addition, in the medical bag, everything is separated out by type of medication. OTC ointments is in one pocket, prescriptions in another, excursion kit in the top, most accessible part, etc. Our list also has expiration information, so that we can easily determine which items have expired and need replacing. The inventory will be kept near our medical kit, for easy access in an emergency.
Ideally, you want everything to be in one place. If something goes wrong, I want to be able to pull the whole kit out. Also, it needs to be easy to grab and go. Part of our abandon ship procedures would be to grab the medical kit. Here’s the bag we chose that fits everything:
Now all that’s left is to get it to the boat. I called British Airways to confirm their medication policies. They said to keep the paper prescriptions with the medications and to check the bag. I have moved most OTC items to a separate bag. The prescription items are in a different checked bag.
WebMD – I used WebMD to look up the various uses and directions for medications, in addition to what was on the prescription. WebMD also allows you to make a digital medicine cabinet, to essentially book mark all your medications for quick reference.
And the total cost for our offshore sailing medical kit….$1,365 (as of the writing of this post). When you consider all the items we are buying for safety gear, which we may never use, this is a small drop in the bucket.
** Standard medical disclaimer here. I am not a doctor nor do I play one on tv. Your med kit may differ wildly from mine based on your own health needs and concerns. I would be interested in getting feedback, of course! **