You never know when someone might get hurt - broken ankles, nasty gashes, and first-degree burns usually happen without warning. In the event of an injury, be it an open head wound or a paper cut, you'll want to be prepared to administer the proper first aid treatment. That's why a first aid kit
is a must for every home, every vehicle, and every outing.
What Goes into a First Aid Kit?
Although the contents of your first aid kit will depend on where you are, whom you're with, and what you're likely to run into, every first aid kit should contain the following basic supplies:
- Bandages, including adhesive band-aids in different sizes and an elastic bandage, such as an ace bandage
- Sterile gauze dressings of different types and sizes.
- Antiseptic solution and/or wipes to disinfect (i.e., hydrogen peroxide).
- Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin, to help wounds heal faster.
- Other ointments, such as hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion for inflammation, and arnica for minor burns.
- Cleansing agent - soap will do.
- Alcohol and/or wipes
- Prescription medications - always take extra, especially on vacations.
- Non-prescription medications such as painkillers (Ibuprofin, acetaminophen), laxatives and anti-diarrheal medicine, antihistamines for allergic reactions, and antacids.
- Sports tape to close wounds or bandages, or to secure splints.
- Basic equipment such as scissors, safety pins, and tweezers.
Additional equipment and supplies that may come in handy include:
- Hot/cold packs
- CPR mouthpiece
- Lighter or matches
- Mirror for signaling or seeing wounds in hard-to-reach places.
- Whistle to summon help.
Having lots of water around helps, too, both to hydrate the victim and to flush wounds. It is also important to have a first aid manual with you, so you know how to use these supplies correctly.
Your first aid kit doesn't have to be a white box with a red cross on it, but it should be a sturdy container that is organized, waterproof, and easily accessible in an emergency. An art supplies box, a fanny pack, or a plastic Ziploc bag will do just fine.
Additional Tips and Warnings
- Make sure to keep all medications and medical supplies out of reach of young children.
- Check your first aid kit regularly to ensure that you have enough of all the supplies and that the medications have not expired - and always restock after using it. If you do encounter an emergency, you want to know that everything you need is there and usable.
- Very importantly, read the first aid manual carefully and make sure your family does, too. Remember, a first aid kit is only as good as the person using it - so learn how to make the most of it.
- Although a first aid kit can do wonders for minor cuts, burns, and injuries, it's not a substitute for professional medical care. In a real emergency, always summon EMS personnel as part of first aid procedure, and make sure the victim gets the full treatment that he or she needs as soon as possible.