First Aid & Safety Equipment
The amount of people we have met travelling around with little to no safety equipment is astounding. We were talking to one couple who had a flash car and camper trailer, I asked them did they carry a first aid kit and the lady just laughed, and said “you mean a couple of band aids”. I asked her what if you get bitten by a snake, what do you do? She again laughed and said “I don’t know – suck the bite wound”. This left me amazed……
One of the first things we put on our ‘to get list’ was what safety equipment we needed for our road trip. Call me an old fashioned girl scout but I believe in being prepared for the worst case scenario – always hoping you never ever get to the ‘worst case scenarios’. Also, I’ve spent 8 years volunteering with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, which has taught me the importance of having safety equipment and knowing how to use it!
We have listed what safety equipment we carry in our vehicle & caravan – it is very important that you’re prepared for any scenario that arises. Whether you’re planning on sticking to bitumen roads or going off the grid for a bit – there is definitely no harm in carrying any or all of the below items. – It may just save your life, or someone else’s!
PLB (personal locating beacon) / EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon);
This is probably the number one item I think every travelling person should carry! PLBs are predominantly used on land and are registered to a person, whereas EPIRBs are predominantly used on the water and generally registered to a vessel. The amount of stories I had heard about, whilst with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard on how having an EPIRB saved people’s lives. Also the sad part about actually being involved with search and rescue’s for missing people in the water, who didn’t have an EPIRB and unfortunately were found deceased. They aren’t that expensive, when you consider it could potential SAFE YOUR LIFE.I purchased a PLB online for only $260 just before we left, which had a 5 year battery life. I chose one with built in GPS, because if we are activating this, we are in serious trouble and I would much prefer to be pin pointed to a 200m radius (with GPS), than a 2km radius (without GPS). For the extra dollars it is well worth getting the built in GPS models! We keep ours stored in the centre console of our vehicle, where it is readily accessible but won’t get nuisance bumped or accidentally activated.
Make sure everyone knows how to activate it and where it is kept so in an emergency it can be activated. Here in Australia, when you buy a beacon you must register it with AMSA. This just means filling out some details, so if you do let it off the authorities will know who and what they are looking for. You also provide alternative contact details for yourself and family & friends, so they can quickly find out if it has been accidentally activated or not.
*handy hint* Make sure if you buy one, you get one that gives you at least 4.5years battery life, I have heard stories of people buying them off the shelf from places, where they had been sat for 2-3 years, so the battery only had 2 years left before it expired.
FIRST AID KIT with medicines;
Now, you can get all different types of first aid kits ranging from real small ones with a couple of bandages and a pair of tweezers, right up to massive ones which have all the essentials plus basic medicines. I would say ours is close to the massive size – I call it my paramedic kit. I knew before our trip started that we would definitely be venturing off the beaten track and that I, once again wanted to be prepared for the ‘worst case scenario’. I was lucky enough to know a good friend who ran her own first aid business, who was able to help create a kit that would suit our needs.It has everything from cotton swabs, band aids, tweezers right up to thermal blankets, wound dressings, splints, eye wash and resuscitation masks etc. When creating my own tailor made kit, it was discussed whether or not to include basic medicines to which I decided would be a good idea. All the medicines I was able to get from my local pharmacy. I had gotten a list of the essentials from my good friend and from there the pharmacist was able to gather them and also showed me some extra things to possible add. Now when I say medicines, I mean everything from painkillers, burn aid, hydrolytes, motion sickness tablets etc.
It is very well stocked and the most important thing is that we both know how to use everything inside it. I even have a first aid booklet sitting in it, on top, so if we do ever need serious first aid and are in a bit of a panic we can refer to the book for appropriate treatments. We have actually used the medicines a few times whilst on the road which has been great. The main disadvantage is that most of them have a 2 year expiry but the great advantage is, if we are nowhere near a chemist, we have basic supplies to help ease the pain / symptoms. We have even given some medicines to other people, we have travelled with – who were in pain. It has definitely paid to have a ‘massive first aid kit’ with all the essentials. It lives in the car in a great assessable spot for easy access. We also do have a small kit stored in the caravan, so if one of us happens to be away with the car, the other person has a very basic kit to use as a back-up.
This was a no brainer for me – but it took a while to convince Kurt of the benefits and cost in having a sat phone. Not every town has phone reception! Especially once you start venturing off the beaten track. We have only been on the road for 3 months and have already used our satellite phone a dozen times.
Here is where we have used it and where it comes in handy;
We have used our sat phone to let others know we are ok, when out of range for an extended amount of time (outback Queensland and up at Cape York thus far). Family and friends can message the sat phone if there is an emergency back home we should know about ie; family member sick etc. We do tend to check it daily, when we are in remote areas with no phone signal in case there is an emergency we need to know about. We've also used it, to get a family member to book a camping permit for us. As we arrived at a spot and loved it and decided to stay, and you could only book permits online. So a simply text with the details on where we needed a permit for, and then they sent us back a confirmation number so everything was by the book (we tend to take it day by day on our road trip and tend not to plan to much). A sat phone is also great if we so happen to break down in a remote location, we can use it to organise help, especially if no one is around. You don’t have to panic, just
make a few calls. Also whilst out travelling, if we ever come across or are involved in a serious incident / accident we would be able to raise help straight away. It only takes one serious moment in need, for the cost of having that satellite phone to pay off.
Our satellite phone is on the Iridium network as it has 100% coverage Australia wide and we have got instant signal everywhere we have turned it on. We have it on a 2 year plan, which by the end of the plan we will own the sat phone (handset) out right. We have the Iridium 9575 Extreme Handset – which is dust and water resistant. Our sat phone, on the 2 year plan works out to be about $20 a week, which I think is very affordable to budget into your weekly expenses. After our epic road trip comes to an end, we can still continue to use the phone on a prepaid plan. For example if we want to go hiking / smaller road trip / out on a boat etc.
I know that there are ‘sat sleeves’ available that can attach to your smart phone, the only thing I didn’t like about these are – what if your smart phone breaks / dies / cracked screen etc. Having a whole other handset which is built tough to stand harsh conditions and is stored in a hard waterproof case – I have the out most peace of mind it will work in the absolute ‘worst case scenario’.
FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT;
Fire fighting equipment is a really easy one – we have 2 fire extinguishers and 2 fire blankets, with one of each in our vehicle and caravan. You can pick up fire blankets and extinguishers relatively easy from Bunnings, BCF, online etc and they’re not that expensive. For the fire extinguishers ours are ‘TYPE ABD –dry powder’ as these will put out most fires (1kg bottles), and our fire blankets are just the standard 1m x 1m in size. Both our blankets and extinguishers are mounted close by to our cooking areas in very accessible locations. After all you don’t want them tucked away in the back of cupboards – because if you need them, you’ll want them on hand – quick!
«Things to consider;
Doing a first aid course / refresher before your trip
Make sure everyone in your travelling party knows what emergency equipment you have, how to use it and when to use it
Run through some ‘worst case scenarios’ while driving along. Discuss what would you do if you had a car crash / gotten bitten by a snake / had a heart attack etc. Talk about what would you use and in what order. Not many people like talking about ‘worst case scenarios’ but if you have a rough plan and idea on what to do, it might just help you have a better chance of survival.