Yesterday I was hit by a car; very minimal injuries and overall a very minor accident--but in hindsight it's made me realize I was ill prepared and really should have a small emergency kit with me at all times.

This kit would be for true "emergencies" only, not bike breakdowns. If I find myself injured--or others find me injured and unconscious--what items and information should I have with me?

This kit should:

  • contain the bare essentials
  • be very compact and convenient to either transfer between bikes or build one for every bike
  • durable with very little maintenance
  • obvious to bystanders and/or emergency responders so that it will be found and opened if need be
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  • isn't this the same as bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/5941/…
    – user1714
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 22:56
  • 1
    @d00b -- I think they have similarities, but that question (and answers) seem to be more mechanically oriented. I'll try to clarify the question as I'm more concerned about the necessities to care for myself (or for others to care for me) rather than anything to do with the bike itself
    – STW
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 3:44
  • Cell phone. All else is optional. :)
    – xpda
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 3:42
  • @xpda -- Unless that cell phone is military-grade I'd have low expectations it'd survive the wreck. I'm actually very happy I didn't have mine on me; it's one less thing to be reported and replaced.
    – STW
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 11:23

6 Answers 6

  • Water
  • Some sort of antiseptic, ideally something like a small bottle of Betadine, though regular ointment/cream will do fine, and it wouldn't hurt to have both
  • Gauze pads, in a couple of sizes
  • Adhesive tape
  • A few large Band-Aids
  • Some tissues or cotton pads for wiping off a wound

And, of course, cell phone, money, and ID (placed somewhere where people can find it).

I have my name, address, emergency contacts, etc on a gummed label stuck to the top bar of my bike and covered with clear tape

  • Daniel, you are a continuing source of inspiration. Taping your contact information to your bike is exactly something I should do. Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 3:17
  • While I like gauze pads, I find that rolls of gauze and that rubberized textile wrap is pretty convenient, as I find skinned knees shed bandages really quickly, and adhesive tape tears off your hair. Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 3:20
  • On my legs any sort of "wrap" rolls up and slides off in short order. (Ordinary knee braces, eg, won't stay put for more than 5 minutes.) Plus I have a mild sensory processing disorder which makes anything that tight "unpleasant". Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 11:02

If you're going for bare minimum:
Betadine (or some sort of antiseptic)
roll of sterile gauze
Ace bandage
Epipen or Benadryl
space blanket

That should get you through most serious injuries, at least those that could be treated by someone without much medical knowledge. Things like band aids are nice but more of a luxury, anything that can be covered by a band aid isn't a big deal.

I agree with having numbers written down too, nobody remembers phone numbers anymore.


The items I've thought of which I consider critical to keep on me whenever riding (from here on out) are:

  • Durable form of identification (laminated, plastic, etc)
    • Primarily in case I'm unconscious
  • Summary of medical information
    • Blood type, known medical allergies, health conditions, etc
  • Emergency contact numbers
    • After my accident I had to borrow a phone, I only knew the phone number of one person to call
  • A couple gauze bandages and/or adhesive bandages
    • Probably not critical to carry, but they're light and compact and would have helped rinse the road grit from my wounds

Also, water was invaluable for quickly cleaning out my road rash.

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    don't forget to mention your blood group on your info card. A lot of ids do not have it. the hospital will confirm themselves before any transfusion, but it might speed up the process of getting it arranged from the bloodbank if they know what it is
    – user1714
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 22:54
  • good point! I've added a "medical info sheet" to the list
    – STW
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 3:52
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    @d00b: Actually, they have to check your blood type prior to transfusion, so having that on the info sheet isn't really as useful. but the other info is great - known medical allergies, previous medical history, etc. Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:11
  • @lawndartchatcher: I meant to say that although they will check your blood, it's good to have in case it's a rare type like AB- or O-, in which case they can start making arrangements to notify the bloodbank for requirements before their test completes.
    – user1714
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:22
  • multiple contact numbers written down is very helpful if you are stunned, in shock, or someone else is making the call Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 3:23

Maybe also a pair of nitrile gloves - lots of people are skittish about getting near someone else's blood. Also, I've used my first aid kit on other folks more often than myself.

  • I often offer my bandaids to families that are curbed and nursing a wee scraped knee. Easy to run low on bandaids. I keep vinyl gloves in my seat bag for when I need to monkey my chain, but I'm curious if anyone would put on greasy gloves to help me out :-) Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 3:16

It depends on your definition of first aid. How long will it take you to get to a doctor in an emergency? If it's only a few minutes, you need something to stop bleeding and close a wound. An hour or two, and you need disinfectants, something to clean the wound, and maybe personal medications. If you're several hours or days from help, the bare minimum list gets longer and more controversial.

I joked about a cell phone, but if you ride where there's cell service, you're crazy not to carry one.


The main thing that I carry is:

  • A small knife
  • Electrical tape

Paired with a t-shirt this can make any sized bandage. The other plus is that they are also useful for bike repairs.

Here is the trick to keep the tape small:

  1. Cut a small piece of cardboard from a cereal box
  2. Unwrap the tape from the roll over the square cereal box square
  3. Unwrap when needed. (Much more compact than bringing a roll).

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