First Aid Kits: Stocking the Essentials

February 12th, 2013 posted by Barbara Szyszkiewicz

by Barbara Szyszkiewicz

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to update your first-aid kits. As a mom of three active children, I keep first-aid supplies in my home, car and purse. Everyone’s needs will differ, but here are some basics that no first-aid kit should lack. Don’t let the length of the lists scare you off. Most of these things are not large and can be kept in a rather small space.

Purse Kits:

Mine is so small that I can fit it in a small cosmetic pouch or hard eyeglass case.

  • Tube of antibiotic cream
  • A few alcohol prep pads
  • Several adhesive bandages of varying sizes

Car Kits:

I use a small bag that can be completely closed, such as a very small backpack or mini-duffel.

  • First aid guide
  • Laminated index card with emergency phone numbers, including doctor, hospital, and Poison Control
  • Adhesive bandages of varying sizes
  • Tube of antibiotic cream
  • Bug spray
  • Alcohol prep pads
  • Instant ice packs
  • Ace bandage
  • Several disposable latex gloves (in a sandwich bag)
  • Small bottle of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, both adult and children’s formulas
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Antacid tablets
  • Antihistamine medication (Benadryl)
  • Gauze pads
  • Self-adhering roll gauze
  • Adhesive tape
  • Matches
  • Needles
  • Cotton balls (keep in a sandwich bag to keep them clean)
  • Large bandanna to use as a sling or to hold on a large dressing (“triangular bandage”)
  • A few old washcloths and hand towels for quick cleanups or to act as splints (keep individually bagged)
  • Scissors
  • Oral thermometer
  • Bar of soap
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Activated charcoal for poison emergencies (consult Poison Control before using)
  • Small blanket
  • Waterless hand cleaner
  • Flashlight and extra batteries

Home Kits

: These should be much larger. Mine is a basket on the shelf of my linen closet. Never keep first-aid supplies in the bathroom as the moisture and steam can lessen the effectiveness of some medications. I keep all the same things as I keep in the car, PLUS:

  • Baking soda
  • Calamine lotion or other poison ivy remedy
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Decongestants
  • Aloe vera gel for sunburns or burns
  • A&D ointment
  • Bulb syringe
  • Liquid bandage
  • Gauze pads in several sizes (at least 2X2 and 4X4)
  • Cotton swabs

I also like to keep a box of assorted adhesive strips, with a tube of antibiotic cream, in a kitchen cabinet. That is probably the most-used first-aid “kit” in my home! Of course, the best component of a first-aid kit is knowledge. A short class in Basic First Aid through your local hospital or Red Cross chapter will pay off by helping you know how to react when an emergency arises. These classes also teach how to improvise equipment such as splints and stretchers. If your child is involved in scouting, they may be able to earn credit toward a merit badge by helping you asemble your first-aid kit. A bonus: they will learn how to be prepared for emergencies. Check their scout handbooks or ask their leaders for more information. It’s a good idea to periodically check the first-aid kits, to refill them and make sure that none of the contents are past their expiration dates. When I use items in my car kit, I put the wrappers in a place where I will see them, so I can remember to restock the kit. A well-stocked first-aid kit is something everyone should have, even though we hope we never need to use it!

Barbara Szyszkiewicz (1 Posts)


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