Every home should have a well-stocked first aid kit to ensure you and your family members can handle common injuries and minor accidents that happen around the house. While a first aid kit can help you deal with many situations, major trauma requires professional medical attention.
If someone has a severe injury, such as major bleeding, a broken limb or is suffering from a heart attack or stroke, you should call 911 immediately and keep the person stable until help arrives. If you are ever unsure how serious an injury is, err on the side of caution and contact a medical professional.
What is First Aid?
First aid refers to one-time, short-term medical attention given immediately after an injury occurs and can range from cleaning small cuts to administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). To learn about CPR and other first aid techniques, you can take a course from the American Red Cross, which will certify you in various first aid skills.
What to Put in a First Aid Kit
Pack your first aid kit with the necessary supplies to properly treat wounds and handle emergency situations. You can purchase these supplies at your local drug store or you can buy a ready-made kit. Always store your kit in a safe, accessible and dry location, preferably in a waterproof bag or box and out of reach of children. After you’ve bought or made your medical kit, check it at least twice a year to ensure it’s fully stocked and nothing is past the expiration date.
Basic First Aid Kit supplies
So what is in a first aid kit? Here are some first aid kit essentials that help diagnose fevers, reduce swelling and protect the caretaker when handling injuries.
- First-aid manual
- Safety pins
- Disposable latex gloves
- Disposable non-latex gloves (for those with latex allergies)
- Thermometer (digital is best)
- Instant cold packs
- Emergency phone numbers
- Medical history of family members
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Cotton swabs
- Alcohol wipes or ethyl alcohol
Caring for Cuts and Scrapes
If you’re wondering what’s inside a first aid kit for small wounds, look no further! These supplies should be in your medical kit to clean, disinfect and cover small wounds to protect them from dirt and infections.
- Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes (Band Aids)
- Rolled sterile gauze – various sizes
- Sterile gauze pads – various sizes
- Antiseptic wipes
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic solution such as hydrogen peroxide
- Antibiotic ointment
- Distilled water for cleaning wounds
Twists, Pulls and Sprains
There’s nothing worse than twisting an ankle or spraining a finger. This list helps you know what to have in a first aid kit to handle these injuries.
- Elastic bandages
- Ace bandages
- Aluminum finger splint
- Athletic tape
For the Unusual Injuries
If you’re wondering what should be in a first aid kit for situations that catch you off guard, here are some ideas. These extra first aid supplies help you treat conditions like splinters, heavy bleeding or eye irritations.
- Eye wash
- Eye pad
- Sterile eye dressings
- Compress dressings
- Tooth preservation kit
- Lubricant jelly
- Plastic bags
- Bulb suction device for flushing wounds
- Triangular bandage
Curious what to put in a first aid kit to complete it? These creams and medicines will finish your kit nicely. Keep them in your medical box to prevent infections, reduce pain and inflammation and alleviate the symptoms of common illnesses.
Always read the directions before administering a medicine. If you take prescription medications, consult with a pharmacist before taking an over-the-counter drug to discuss potential interactions. Never give a prescription medication to anyone other than the patient to whom it’s been prescribed.
- Antiseptic such as triple antibiotic or Neosporin
- Aloe vera
- Pain relievers – Remember to have children’s variants as well!
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Cough medication
- Cold medication
- Ipecac – Never administer Ipecac unless you’ve been told to do so by a doctor or poison control. Call poison control 24/7 at 1.800.222.1222.
For severe injuries, such as broken limbs, heavy bleeding or a seizure, you should seek medical attention immediately. Most major injuries are the result of trauma, such as a car accident or fall from a height, and may require surgery or other professional medical treatment. After suffering trauma, you should be examined by a physician, even if you feel fine, as you may have internal injuries.
When assisting others who have been hurt, you should never move an injured person unless leaving them in their current position could result in more harm. The person could have a head or neck injury and movement could cause further injury or paralysis. Additionally, if administering first aid would put you in danger, don’t enter the scene. Instead, call 911 and wait for help while monitoring the person from a safe distance.
The best defense against injuries and trauma is being proactive and safe as well as knowing what to do when something happens. Having a properly stocked first aid kit on hand and knowledge of first aid techniques is your best bet for ensuring minor injuries don’t become major.