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When you've got a cut, a scrape, a bite or a burn, a fully stocked first aid kit is a good place to turn. Here's what to keep in yours.
First aid essentials. How to make a kit fit for first aid
When you hurt yourself, you don’t always need to go to the doctor or a hospital. Sometimes all you need is a little first aid. That’s where a first aid kit comes in handy. It contains most of the items you might need to provide basic aid. It’s a good idea to keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and in your car. But what should you keep inside the kit itself?
Here are some essentials for a well-stocked first aid kit.
DRESSINGS AND BANDAGES
- Gauze roll.
- Sterile gauze bandages.
- Eye pad.
- Adhesive tape roll.
- Elastic bandage for sprains.
- Sterile cotton balls and swabs.
- Pain reliever and fever medicines. (Remember not to use aspirin for kids younger than 18.)
- Antibiotic ointment.
- Sterile saline eyewash.
- Calamine lotion for stings or poison ivy.
- Hydrocortisone cream, ointment or lotion for itching.
- Antihistamine for allergic reactions.
- Nasal decongestant.
- Anti-nausea medicine to treat motion sickness and other types of nausea.
- Anti-diarrhea medicine.
- Antacid for upset stomach.
- Laxative to treat constipation.
- Special medicines for members of your household, such as asthma inhalers.
- Safety pins to fasten splints and bandages.
- A suction device to flush out wounds.
- Aluminum finger splint.
- Syringe and medicine spoon for giving medicine.
- Tweezers to remove ticks, insect stingers and splinters.
- Non-latex gloves (size large).
- A breathing barrier for giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- An emergency blanket.
- Antiseptic wipes.
- Instant cold compress.
- First aid manual and list of emergency contacts.
Whether you create your first aid kit or buy a pre-made one at the store, keep these tips in mind:
- Tailor your kit to meet your family’s needs.
- Check the kit regularly.
- Replace items as you use them or they expire.
- Use the kit for minor medical issues—call 911 in an emergency.
- Consider labeling emergency contacts in your phone, or downloading an ICE (for "in case of emergency") app.
Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Emergency Physicians; American Red Cross
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "What do I need in my first aid kit?" https://familydoctor.org/what-do-i-need-in-my-first-aid-kit/.
- American College of Emergency Physicians. "First Aid Kit." https://www.emergencyphysicians.org/article/health--safety-tips/first-aid-kit.
- American Red Cross. "Make a First Aid Kit." https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/anatomy-of-a-first-aid-kit.html.