Create Your Own Outdoor Education First Aid Kit

Child receiving a bandaid

When I take my students outdoors I always make sure that we leave the classroom prepared. Not only do my lessons need to be planned and ready to go, but I also need to be prepared for the minor emergencies that may pop up when we are away from the school. I always take my teacher backpack with me. This backpack is filled with things that are needed to both keep me comfortable and the students safe during our outdoor education time. Included in my teacher kit is my outdoor education first aid kit. 

The items in my outdoor education first aid kit have been chosen for specific reasons. Most of the items are there so that we can deal with minor emergencies while outside and not have to waste time by going indoors. I have also included items that may be used to deal with a major emergency and keep the student safe until help arrives. 

A checklist of what to include in your first aid kit, as well as many other handy tools to help you get started with outdoor learning, are available in our Get Outside Tool Kit.

Important note: In addition to having a well-stocked first aid kit, keeping your first aid skills up to date is extremely important when you are working with students in the outdoors. If you haven’t already done so, take a first aid and CPR certification course. This course will not only teach you the skills to treat minor injuries but will give you a boost of confidence when taking your students outside.

adult putting a bandage on a child's knee

Preparing Your Outdoor Education First Aid Kit​

The items in my outdoor education first aid kit are all carefully curated and selected so that I can deal with small emergencies and not have to interrupt the class by going indoors. Of course, if a wound requires a good cleaning or the student requires some rest/a phone call home is required, we will head inside. There are also a few items in the kit to be prepared for a more serious emergency. For example, if we are unable to move a student due to a major injury and we need to keep them warm and comfortable until further help arrives. All of these items fit inside a small packing cube that takes up very little space.

I chose to make my own first aid kit for a few reasons. The first is that many readily available first aid kits don’t really meet the needs of a classroom. They are expensive yet contain cheap materials (the exception being some of the outdoor adventure specific kits…but they are very expensive.) The next reason is size. I can pack up the materials that I need into a small packing cube and throw it in my backpack.The third reason is that I know exactly what is in there and how to use it. There are no random extras that take up valuable space. 

Items That I Have On My Person At All Times…​

My Phone​

This is not in the first aid kit, but instead I keep it in a pocket where I can feel it vibrate at all times. This is potentially the most important item in the whole kit. My phone allows me to contact the school if I need help or if the school needs to contact me. It also allows me to phone Emergency Services (911) immediately if there is a serious emergency. In the winter I keep my phone in an inner pocket of my jacket so that it stays warm and the cold doesn’t drain the battery. I also have a phone case that can recharge the phone should it run out of battery. 

A Whistle​

I carry the whistle on my school lanyard with my classroom keys. I use a Fox 40 whistle so that I can get the kid’s attention in case of an emergency. As a class we talk about different whistle signals at the beginning of the year so the kids understand what the emergency whistle sounds like and how to respond to it.

First aid kit materials

Items That Are In My Outdoor Education First Aid Kit​

Tons of Bandages of Various Sizes​

Cuts and scrapes will happen when kids are exploring. Having a selection of bandaids allows me to treat these wounds and then let the kids get back to exploring. (If the cut or scrape requires a thorough cleaning then you should bring the class inside rather than staying outside or send the student in with another adult.)

Splinter Forceps ​

Another small emergency that happens often as kids are exploring is splinters. Having a clean pair of forceps to pick out splinters means that the kids can get back to exploring as soon is the splinter is out.

Antiseptic Wipes​

Alcohol wipes or other antiseptic wipes are for cleaning equipment, such as forceps. They shouldn’t be used on skin as they dry out and damage the skin.


Moleskin is used to help prevent blisters. It is put directly on a blister or a hotspot to prevent friction (which causes the blister in the first place.) I usually carry a piece that can be cut to size to fit the blister. 

Gauze pads​

Gauze pads are used for cleaning wounds. I usually have about 4 of them.

Non-stick dressing​

These are used to dress larger wounds and keep the wound clean. Remember larger wounds should be cleaned first before they are dressed.

Bandage Tape​

You can use this for taping down dressings or even taping down bandages that won’t stick. 

An Elastic Bandage/Tensor Bandage​

This is great for treating sprains or securing a splint. 

A SAM Splint​

This is a light-weight, moldable splint. It can be used to stabilize a fracture so that you can get the student safely back to the school so that they can be taken to a clinic. 

2 Cloth Triangle Bandages​

Triangle bandages are used for making slings, securing splints, or padding around wounds or embedded objects. There are so many things that you can do with them.

2 Gauze Rolls​

These can be used for treating wounds or securing splints.

Butterfly Strips​

These are used to draw the edges of an open wound closer together. 

2 Combine/Abdominal Pads​

This is used to treat heavy bleeding.

Clothing Shears​

Most often I use these just as regular scissors. However, I take comfort in knowing that if there were an emergency that I needed to remove clothing I would be able to. 

Silver Blanket/Emergency Blanket​

The silver blanket is used when treating for shock, treating a student with hypothermia, or keeping a student warm and comfortable until help arrives. 

Nitrile Gloves​

Clean nitrile gloves keep both you and your students safe. Remember to remove and dispose of them properly.

Resuscitation Mask​

This is used when performing CPR or resuscitation. It acts as a barrier to keep you, the first aider, safe. A resuscitation mask also has a “puke valve” to prevent the patient from vomiting into your mouth (gross!)

A Zipper Seal Bag for Hygienic Disposal​

A ziplock or zipper seal plastic bag is necessary for the safe disposal of any items that have come in contact with bodily fluids. 

First aid course child CPR

Being Prepared​

Know Your First Aid​

Keep your first aid skills current and up to date. Resuscitation guidelines are updated often and our understanding of different first aid techniques evolves the more we learn. Having a current first aid certification under your belt is a must if you are going to spending time outdoors with your students. First aid is mostly common sense, however becoming certified in first aid can boost your confidence and help you feel ready to take your students outdoors.

Know Your Students​

Get to know your students and understand their particular health needs and concerns. If you have students that require an epi-pen make sure that you either have it with you or know that the student has it with them. If you have students with medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma that can be affected by exercise, you need to be aware of the triggers and what to do if they are in distress. Be aware of your school divisions policies on administering medication. Also ensure that you know how to use any medical devices that your students may require. 

It is also important to know your students and their capabilities. Often injuries happen when people try to push themselves beyond what they are capable of. When introducing new skills, introduce them to the students safely and ensure that all the students feel confident. Also, always give your students the option of opting out if it is something that they don’t feel comfortable with. 

Know Your Area​

Know your area and if there are any particular health or safety concerns in the area. For example, are there plants such as stinging nettle or poison ivy that your students need to be aware of? Are there places with unsafe footing where students need to move with care? Being aware of these hazards doesn’t necessarily mean you need to avoid these areas, it just means that you need to be proactive in your planning. For example, don’t plan a hiding game in an area with a lot of poison ivy!

Teach Your Students What To Do If Someone Gets Hurt​

Make sure that your students know what to do if someone gets hurt during your outdoor education time. Ensure that your students are always looking out for one another and keeping each other safe. As the teacher you should ensure that you are always in a place where the students are able to see you and signal for help if necessary. Have a procedure that the students can practice so that they can feel confident in getting help.

For example:

  1. Check to see if the other student is ok
  2. Get a friend to stay with the hurt student
  3. Go to the teacher and let them know what has happened and where the hurt student is
two first aid kits

Now Get Outside and Start Exploring…​

Having a first aid kit for outdoor education ready to go is just one step in being prepared to be outside with your students. It is essential in planning for the safety and comfort of your students during your outdoor education time. Accidents can happen in the outdoors, however they are more likely to happen if you and your students are unprepared. In addition to building your first aid kit, take the time to establish routines, expectations, and boundaries with your students so that they can feel safe and confident in being outside. Ensure that your students come prepared for the outdoors with proper clothing and footwear. Finally, understand why you are taking your students outside. Make the outdoor learning time both valuable and enjoyable. If the students are engaged they are less likely to start doing silly things on their own. 

A First aid kit checklist, injury report forms, and student health forms can be found in our “Get Outside Tool Kit.” This tool kit contains tons of helpful teacher tools to make getting outside with your students safe and easy.

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