What Should Be Inside Your First Aid Kit?

Your First Aid Kit at a Glance

First aid kits should be compact and easily accessible. According to WebMD, your first aid kit should be able to treat the following aches and pains until professional help comes:

  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Abrasions (scrapes)
  • Stings
  • Splinters
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Cuts
  • Mild pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Skin problems
  • Allergies

If you’re moving your kit around, the container itself should be water-resistant and drop-proof. The items should be arranged in a way where they can all be easily found and used. Do not stuff your first aid kit with too many supplies. In building your kit, it is important to remember to stick to the basics and know how to use them.

Storing Items in Your Kit

Some items in your kit, like medications, ointments, and sterile supplies will have expiration dates. Take note of this and routinely stock fresh supplies. To extend your supplies’ shelf life, keep your kit in a cool, dry place away from humidity. You also have to make sure that all of the items in your kit are functional. For example, your scissors should be sharp and usable. Blunt scissors are unsafe and would just slow down the first aid process.

Here are the items that should be in your first aid kit:

Bandages

first aid kit bandages

There are many types of bandages. They each serve a different purpose. Your kit should at least have these bandages: adhesive, roller gauze, and triangular.

Adhesive bandages like Band-Aids are common in every first aid kit; they are used to treat small wounds and cuts. Roller bandages or common roller gauze bandages are used to hold a dressing in place. A triangular bandage (similar to a cravat) is helpful in a number of ways, including immobilizing an area and securing splints.

Sterile pads

These also come in various sizes and are needed to suppress any bleeding and to dress wounds. The Red Cross suggests keeping two sets of sterile gauze pads: one set with 3×3 inches and another with 4×4 inches.

Alcohol Wipes or Cotton Swabs

This is needed for simple wound disinfection and dressing.

Antibiotic Cream

This will be needed to treat minor wounds and cuts. You can also include povidone-iodine as a disinfectant.

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Various Oral Medications

A stash of basic meds is necessary for any first aid kit. The usual medications include the following:

  • Pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen
  • Prescribed meds for cough and colds
  • Antihistamine tablets for allergies
  • Anti-diarrheals and emergency hydration packets
  • Anti-emetics and anti-nausea meds
  • Antacids for indigestion and hyperacidity
  • Activated charcoal if you suspect poisoning

If a family member has a condition that needs special medications, stock those prescribed medications in your kit as well.

first aid kit

Topical Medications

Topical medications are used to treat skin problems. They include:

  • Topical corticosteroids like hydrocortisone to treat rashes.
  • Aloe vera gel ointments to treat minor burns.
  • Other topical medications and ointments that you can stock are calamine lotion and insect repellants.

Surgical Glue

Surgical or tissue glues are now commercially available. You can use it to close wounds without any need for stitches.

Sterile Water

Useful when you need to reconstitute certain medications and for wound dressing.

Disposable Syringes

These are needed to administer medications.

Gloves

Keep a set of both sterile and non-sterile gloves in your first aid kit. Gloves are needed to protect yourself when handling potentially infectious fluids, like blood.

Scissors

Scissors are used to cut gauze and bandages. Bandage scissors are the safest kind of scissors to keep as they have blunt tips and angled blades. This means that you can easily cut bandages or dressings without any risk of further injury.

Tweezers

You will need tweezers to pluck out debris like splinters on wounds.

Thermometer

This is needed to measure body temperature. You can store a digital oral thermometer in your kit.

Hot and Cold Pack

Hot and cold packs have various uses. It can be used to administer first aid to muscle strains and sprains as well as to treat inflammation.

Keep It Simple and Organized

These are the basic items that make up a first aid kit.

You can also add other personal effects to your first aid kit, like inhalers for family members with asthma, or an EpiPen for someone who suffers from severe allergic reactions. Again, the key to an effective first aid kit is in keeping it simple and organized.

Most of all, teach yourself and your family members how to use these items to administer first aid safely and effectively.

What other items should be in your first aid kit? Let us know in the comments below!

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