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Travelling with a first aid kit is not second-nature to many Nigerians. In the bid to pack light, even the people that know about it, tend to discard first aid kits.  If accidents happen, knowing what to do with the common items available in your space can save a life. If you don’t have a first aid kit and you run into a ‘fix’, here are some everyday items you can re-purposed during a travel/tour emergency:
  1. Bandana/Pashmina shawl
We can use these cloths as makeshift bandage, a covering to protect your head from the sun, a smoke signal, water strainer, to carry items around and as a sling for shoulder injuries. You can also use it to protect your neck in cold weather or as an air filter for breathing in cold and dusty conditions. If it is bright and coloured, it can help you stand out if you are lost in a forest like IITA forest. That way, search parties can easily locate and rescue you. So the next time you go hiking up a rock or hill, like Zuma Rock in Abuja, carry one with you.
  1. Candles and lighters
Candles are good for creating light in the dark as long as you have a lighter or waterproof matches. Both Candles and lighters are ideal for starting a fire. You could create a bonfire for fun if you are camping at the foot of a mountain. Some Nigeria tour agents include bonfire night into their sleepover tour packages like TVP Adventure did during their Yoga retreat at Tarkwa Bay Beach in August. It can also be for warmth and a signal at night if you get stranded during a hike.
  1. Dental floss
While it is great for oral hygiene, it’s  can also be used to set  traps for animals when camping in the wild. When coupled with a soda can and wooden sticks, it makes for a good trip wire. When bundled into a ball, it can become fuel/tinder for a small fire or keep an existing fire stable. And don’t say we don’t go camping in Nigeria. Irinajo Tours had a Camping Experience trip at Ilashe Beach resort during Easter this year.
  1. A sock
It is great for keeping your feet warm, but did you know you could use it to filter water? If you want to use water from a stream and there are sediments in it, you can pour it into an empty can and use the socks to sift out the sediments. It doesn’t purify the water though, you might need to boil the water, use water purifying tablet or iodine for that. Cotton socks are good for fire tinder because they burn easily.
  1. A Mobile Phone
Sure, Mobile Network is poor in some parts of the country but having your mobile phone with you is still important. Phones now have flashlights and camera lights to light up dark caves like Ogbunike caves in Anambra state. They also have a digital compass and GPS that can track your location if something goes wrong.
  1. Garbage bags
Having a garbage bag with you in your backpack is important for keeping the environment clean when you snack at a tourist destination. But it can also keep you warm and dry if you are exposed to the ‘elements’. All you have to do is cut holes for your head and hands so you can wear it like a raincoat. If you pack leaves in it, it could form a nice pillow/mattress and without the leaves, it’s a protection from a damp ground.
  1. Shoelaces/Paracord
Shoelaces of a hiking boot are study and good for making a splint if you sustain an injury in the wild. You could also use them with a rain poncho or trap to make an emergency shelter when tied between two trees. While a Paracord is good for securing a tent and a rope/clothesline if you are camping out. They make a fishing line or hammock if you want to be creative outdoors, and for a tourniquet, if you are injured. Twenty to thirty feet of Paracord should be enough for an emergency.
  1. Pads and tampon
If you have an injury and no first aid kit, you can use a pad or tampon with a duct tape as a bandage to stop the bleeding. They make good improvisation tools for dressing wounds. You can use the tampon as a water filter and the rope can be used as a wick for an improvised candle from leftover candle wax, pine sap or rendered animal fat. It can also make a nice fire tinder when you pull the cotton out and light it on fire with a little petroleum jelly from Vaseline or lip balms.
  1. Soda can/Tin cans
Remember your canned drinks like Malta Guinness and Coca-Cola cans? While their contents are good for hydration, the Can can be also handy for storing or collecting water. If you visit a lake like the one in Ezeagu Tourist Complex in Enugu, you can use the tab for a fish hook after pulling it out. While you can use tin cans from tinned foods like baked beans as a cooking pot to eat in the wild.
  1. Whistle
You should have a whistle around your neck when venturing to an unknown destination. It makes for a great signal if there is a rubble collapse in a cave, or you get stuck while looking at the underground bunker near Oguta Lake in Imo state. Have you ever needed to use everyday items for an emergency while on vacation or on a tour? Please share your story.  

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This article was first published on 11th September 2018


Ann Esievoadje is a freelance writer who is passionate about encouraging a reading culture and personal development. She has authored two books, The Quilt (fiction) and Being Mummy and Me (non-fiction). She manages Pulchra Publishing which offers a content creation/editing, transcription, different forms of writing (including Ghostwriting) service and her blog, Life Love and Anything Goes at You can reach her at

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