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How to Prepare for First Aid While RVing

| Updated Jun 20, 2023

Everyone wants to have a safe and enjoyable trip when they venture out in their RV.

But we all know — or should know — that accidents happen. Who can forget the story of Marshall Wendler and Kelly Beasley who had to deal with a serious injury while boondocking?

That’s just one example. It’s also a good reminder of the importance that travelers take some steps ahead of time to prepare for a potential emergency.

How to Prepare for First Aid While RVing 1

That’s why I talked with Jeffrey L. Pellegrino, Ph.D., MPH, a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. He’s also a professor and program director of Health Sciences at Aultman College in Canton, Ohio.

Perhaps most important to you, one of his specialties is remote and wilderness first aid.

“With adventure there’s risk,” he said. “And so as we’re thinking about those risks, we can mitigate them…we can stop them.

“If we plan ahead and prepare ourselves,” Pellegrino said.

Pellegrino said those are essentially the first set of principles taught in wilderness and remote first aid.

When it comes to RVing, he said it starts with our vehicles. Specifically, he said, we not only need to make sure we check tires, battery, brakes, and fluid levels, but that we also pack the right first aid equipment.

“These are things you can’t improvise,” he said. “Things you want to keep in a place that’s dry, protected from light, and regularly looked at.”

To make it as easy as possible, I’ve compiled Pellegrino’s recommendations in the bullet list below:

  • Pack an emergency preparedness kit with water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, a battery operated or hand crank weather radio, blankets and non-flammable flares.
  • Personalize your kit with extra medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, diphenhydramine, and prescriptions), medical supplies, and items for your pet.
  • Include a first aid kit in case an injury or accident occurs with:
    • Non-latex, preferably Nitrile disposable gloves (to prevent body fluid contact)
    • Assorted sizes of self-adhesive bandages- transparent, sterile dressing that is waterproof (known as transparent film dressing), sterile gauze and adhesive tape (to cover and protect open wounds)
    • Wound gel or antibiotic ointment (to help promote healing/ prevent infection)
    • A breathing barrier (to prevent disease transmission while giving rescue breaths)

Other items to include:

  • Low-dose (81mg) chewable Aspirin (for chest pain)
  • Tweezers (to remove splinters or ticks)
  • Instant cold compress (to control swelling)
  • Scissors (to cut tape, cloth or bandages)
  • Emergency blanket (to prevent heat loss and to treat for shock)

In addition to a well-stocked first aid kit, Pellegrino recommends taking other steps to mitigate risks. Those suggestions include:

  • Map out your route and share your travel plans with a family member or friend.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast before you leave and throughout your trip.
  • Download the American Red Cross Disaster Appsfor free in your app store.
  • The apps provide weather alerts, suggest safety actions, and other helpful tips to prepare.

And when you’re on your trip, there are steps you can take, as well. Pellegrino recommends:

  • Obey traffic rules and avoid distractions like cell phones while driving.
  • Drive in shifts so drivers are well rested.
  • Heed all severe weather alerts and warnings.

Pellegrino also recommends that people get trained in First Aid and CPR and learn how to use an AED. Training can give you the confidence and skills to act in an emergency until help arrives.

How to Prepare for First Aid While RVing 2The Red Cross has a variety of online and in-person courses available at

Help and suggestions for handling emergencies, first aid kits and emergency supplies as well as training resources can be found at . The Red Cross has one of the very best first aid apps available in their app store or at

The bottom line?

A little preparation and planning can help make your journey one you’ll remember for years to come.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2019-09-08

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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