Best First Aid Books and Guides

Home libraries look different these days. While some people will always prefer having a hard copy on hand to flip through, others keep their library on their phone. However you assemble your home library, make sure you keep it stocked with the necessary first aid guides to be prepared for any situation.

Below is a collection of some of the best first aid books and guides that I’ve come across and want to share with you.

Best First Aid References For Home

This is the type of reference that should be in every home. They are easy to understand and offer remedies that everyone should be able to perform.

ACEP First Aid Manual 5th Edition: The Step-by-Step Guide for Everyone – 2014
This is the best home first aid guide that I have seen. I like that it breaks each topic into sections like “recognition”, “your aims”, “cautions”, and “what to do” in easy-to-find boxes that are differentiated by color. There is just enough info to provide first aid, with additional background or conceptual information at the beginning of each chapter. The book is 288 pages, not too large, has durable pages, and lots of photos!

First Aid Manual 11th Edition: Written and Authorised by the UK’s Leading First Aid Providers – 2021
This is essentially the same reference as the one above but written for a UK audience. Either book has both imperial and metric measurements.

The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook – 1992
As the runner-up, why not get a book from a trusted source like the American Red Cross? It contains around 300 pages of useful information and illustrations. It does contain some outdated information, particularly with CPR protocol, but shouldn’t keep you from considering it.

Best Pocket Guides

There are a few criteria I used when picking these guides. They are truly meant to be pocket guides, so I was looking for a book smaller than 6 inches in any direction that is also lightweight. If you’re thinking about getting a pocket guide, keep in mind two things: it will not be comprehensive due to the size, and the typeface will probably be tiny.

Urgent First Aid Guide with CPR & AED – 2016
This is a great little guide that is geared towards the home, car, or office that will fit just about anywhere and is the most affordable option. It covers CPR in-depth and has advice for everything from poisoning to fractures to dental injuries. It has some full-color images as well as a few diagrams. The paper quality is pretty cheap and the book probably won’t hold up to much abuse, so it may not be the best option for outdoor adventures.

Tiny First Aid Guide: Emergency Medical Care for Anywhere
This is a great option because of its size and value. I like that it’s durable and can be fully opened and laid out in an emergency so you won’t lose your place in a book. I also like the added value of the QR codes for additional information, that it comes with a ziplock style bag, and comes with a plastic magnifying glass for those with limited vision.

Best Wilderness/Sports Related First Aid Guides

First aid is different in the wilderness. You’ll have fewer tools, fewer resources, and more time – time until help arrives that is. Having a resource that addresses the unique needs of wilderness first aid is important if you are a frequent outdoors person. These references aren’t huge and could be packed, but probably better left at camp as they are not really pocket guides.

NOLS Wilderness Medicine – 2021
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) has been teaching wilderness skills in America since 1965 and is a trusted resource in outdoor education. This first aid guide is covers everything from assessment to environmental factors to rescue. My biggest gripe is that the illustrations could be better, but they still convey the message.

Fixing Your Feet: Injury Prevention and Treatment for Athletes – 2021
If you didn’t think you could get a 400+ page book on foot care, think again! Anyone who is a runner, hiker, or any other athlete on their feet knows that your feet can make or break your ability to perform. Not only does the book cover what you’d expect, like blisters and socks, it also discusses how to choose the right footwear and considerations for extreme weather or multi-day events.

Best First Aid References for Dogs and Pets

Our pets are a part of the family and we want to make sure they are safe and healthy. Here are some helpful references to help you evaluate and solve medical issues yourself, or determine when it’s time to visit the vet.

The First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats – 2001
This is my favorite resource for cat and dog owners alike. It contains over 400 pages of practical first aid knowledge for pet owners that includes what you should do now, when to call a vet, what supplies you’ll need, and how to provide follow-up care. Its format is easy to follow and there are illustrations throughout.

Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook – 2007
Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook – 2007
Horse Owner’s Veterinary Handbook – 2008
These guides are part of the same series and are comprehensive (650 pages+!), filled with images, and have great reviews online. The biggest con that I’ve seen is that they are geared more towards a clinical setting, which means it may be harder to understand for people without previous medical knowledge and not necessarily set up for first aid / emergency situations.

Best Survival Guides

These guides are geared more towards the prepper or survivalist who wants to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is NOT on the Way – 2021
This serious manual is around 700 pages of in-depth knowledge by two authors dedicated to the cause of sharing first aid information to the public. As the title implies, this is meant to be your resource for when someone is sick or injured and there are no hospitals or doctors available to help.

Improvised Medicine: Providing Care in Extreme Environments – 2016
At around 650 pages, this book is geared towards a health care professional helping in areas of disaster. Not only does this cover the essential first aid topics that you would expect, it includes other subjects like sanitation and latrines, tracking patients and their care, malnutrition – all topics that are less exciting, but necessary for long-term survival situations.

SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere – 2014
Although first aid is only a small portion of this book, I’m partial to it because it’s was the first book of this type I ever purchased. As a teen, I wanted to learn more about survival and first aid since I was a frequent camper and always out in the wilderness. This book touches upon just about every survival situation you can think of. It will give you a great overview but doesn’t go super deep into any topic. Get this book first to figure out what interests you, or what you need to learn more about.

Best resource for learning about things you’re probably not trained to do

Reichman’s Emergency Medicine Procedures – 2018
If you’re planning for an apocalyptic situation, or just want to learn (a lot) more about common medical procedures, this is the book for you. At around 1900 pages, this comprehensive guide truly covers the who, what, why, when, and hows. If you are in the prepper community, know that this is geared towards hospital workers, so much of the content involves the tools and equipment that are readily available in a hospital. The chapter on ultrasounds might not be useful, but practical sections about how to remove a ring or a contact lens might be.

Best Free Resources

Although you can’t trust everything you read online, these are free resources from trusted institutions.

The American Safety & Health Institute CPR, AED, and Basic First Aid Student Handbook – 2010
This PDF has 77 pages of text and images that cover much of the basics of first aid. Although not as good as some of the other texts listed here, it is a great resource for people who can’t afford another option.

Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) Guidelines for Medical Personnel – 2021
Created by a committee established by the United States government, the TCCC guidelines are evidence-based instructions on how to provide immediate care while in combat situations. Although not good for the coffee table and without images, this guide gives clear “if this – then this” instructions.

The American Red Cross App Series for Android or Apple
These days, there’s always an app out there. Why not go with a trusted name like the American Red Cross (or the British Red Cross). I have the Android version and it’s easy to navigate, has images, and gives you the option to learn more on the first aid subject your choose.

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