Jessica is a medical writer with an unquenched thirst to discover something new. She believes that medical content should be accessible to everyone and strives to write content that every single person can understand. When Jessica isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading a book with a dog cuddled in her lap. Jessica has a Masters of Engineering degree in Biomedical Engineering.
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Amy is a Board Certified Family Health Nurse Practitioner (FNP) with over 15 years of experience working in Hospital Medicine, Urgent Care and Primary Care practices. Amy graduated Thomas Jefferson University with high distinction earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2008, a Master of Science in Nursing in 2010 and a Post Master's Certificate in Adult Gerontology Acute Care (AGAC) in 2014. She was recognized by the Elite American Nurses Association in 2013 for her dedication, achievements and leadership in the field Nursing. She served as a clinical preceptor for a number of Nurse Practitioner students and enjoys teaching the bright minds of future NPs.
First aid kits allow you to keep all the important medical supplies in one place, and what’s great about first aid kits is that they are highly customizable, so you can craft one that meets your and your family’s needs. However, while you know that making a first aid kit is important, do you know what should be in it?
First aid supplies span several categories, including the essentials, medications, emergency supplies, and additional supplies you can find around your house. We’ve compiled a list below outlining supplies that fall into each category so you can easily stock up your first aid kit.
Table of Contents
- About First Aid Kits
- Why Should You Have a First Aid Kit?
- First Aid Kit Basics
- What Should Be in a First Aid Kit?
- Remember to Consider Your Family’s Needs
- Check Your First Aid Kit Constantly
- Key Takeaways
About First Aid Kits
A first aid kit is a bag, box, or pack that holds supplies intended to treat minor injuries, such as scrapes, cuts, burns, and sprains. Some first aid kits may also contain emergency supplies, life-saving supplies, or medicines for illnesses. The goal of a first aid kit is to have all the medical supplies you may need in one convenient place so that you do not have to go searching for anything or run to the store.
With a first aid kit, you can quickly focus on treating the problem.
First aid kits are versatile in that you can make one yourself or buy one with all the essentials already contained. Even more, some first aid kits are basic, but others may be designed for specific activities, such as camping, sailing, or hiking.
The good thing about making your own first aid kit, though, is that you can also customize it to you and your family’s needs. For example, you can include emergency numbers and the medications you take daily or for specific circumstances, like an inhaler.
Why Should You Have a First Aid Kit?
Having a first aid kit always on hand ensures that, when an emergency arises, you have the tools necessary to address the situation and either resolve it or buy time until you can see an emergency provider.
Knowing this, it is best to keep a first aid kit in your home and your car, carry one with you when you’re out and about, and know where to find the first aid kit when you’re at work.
First Aid Kit Basics
When creating a first aid kit, you first and foremost want to ensure it is well-stocked with all the essential first aid supplies, as detailed below. Not only do you need to keep it stocked, but you need to check it periodically to ensure that anything used or expired is replaced.
Even if you purchase a first aid kit, take a look at what is included and add in anything you feel would benefit you and your family.
Second, having a first aid kit isn’t enough, you must also ensure it is available when needed. This often means having multiple first aid kits, not just one at home, including one in your car, one in your purse, and sometimes one on you while you walk around. You can customize each of these first aid kits to match the available space and the scenarios in which you might need to use them.
What Should Be in a First Aid Kit?
When creating a first aid kit, you will want to include some essentials that can be used in most cases, but you will also want to consider when you will need the first aid kit. For example, is the kit staying in your car, or is it going with you while you’re camping? Considering these factors can help you determine what to include in your first aid kit.
Listed below are some essentials, medications, and emergency supplies to consider for your first aid kit.
First Aid Kit Essentials
- Adhesive bandages (assorted sizes) – dressing for minor wounds
- Absorbent compress dressings – help stop bleeding and protect larger wounds
- Antiseptic wipe packets (another option is an antiseptic and a cloth/cotton pad to apply it) – cleanse and disinfect the wounded area
- Antibiotic ointment packets or tubes – prevents skin infection in scratches, cuts, and minor burns
- Adhesive cloth tape – secures dressings for minor wounds
- Instant cold compress – provides cold therapy for muscular injuries and sprains
- Hydrocortisone ointment packets or tubes – reduces pain and itching
- Gauze roll bandage – dressing for minor wounds and burns
- Sterile gauze pads – offer sterile wound care for minor wounds and burns
- Oral thermometer – reads temperature
- Hand sanitizer – offers antibacterial properties for hands before working on the wounded site
- Syringe or medicine cup – to measure out liquid medicines
- Hydrogen peroxide – to clean wounded areas
- Calamine lotion – reduces itching
- Aloe vera gel – eases burns
- Antacids – calms an upset stomach
- Laxatives – help with stomach pain
- Pain relievers
- Aspirin – can be used if an adult is experiencing chest pain or may be having a heart attack
- Anti-diarrhea medication – stops diarrhea
- Hydrocortisone cream – eases itching
- Antihistamine – helps in cases of an allergic reaction
- Cough and cold medications
- Epinephrine auto-injector (if prescribed by a doctor) – stops an allergic reaction
- Personal medications (that don’t need to be refrigerated)
- Emergency space blanket – offers warmth
- Sunscreen – protects skin from the sun
- Insect repellant – keeps away bugs and prevents bites
- Emergency phone numbers (include contact information for your family health care provider and pediatrician, emergency road service providers, local emergency services, and the poison helpline)
- Medical history forms for each family member
- Medical consent forms for each family member
Other Household Items to Include
- Safety pins – can be used to secure dressings or elastic bandages
- Tweezers – pull debris from the skin (e.g., stingers from animals or splinters)
- Super glue
- Cotton balls and cotton swabs – can be used to apply an antiseptic wash or clean a wound
- Flashlight (and extra batteries)
- Small notepad and waterproof writing instrument
- Nonlatex gloves – protect against bodily fluids
- Surgical mask – protects from inhaling pathogens
- Scissors – cuts first aid tape, gauze, bandages, or clothing
Remember to Consider Your Family’s Needs
When creating a first aid kit, it is always recommended to consider your family’s needs. Do you have a child with allergies? Or, perhaps your significant other is susceptible to heart attacks?
Whatever your family needs, it is best to customize your first aid kit to match them. Stock it full of the general essentials, but also include what your family might need in an emergency, such as an EpiPen or other prescribed medication.
Additionally, when making a first aid kit, it is best to prepare your children for medical emergencies by showing them what the first aid kit is (so that they can grab it if you ask for it), what is inside it, and, for older children, some first-aid techniques.
Check Your First Aid Kit Constantly
Once your first aid kit is assembled, you’re not done. You will then want to check all your first aid supplies frequently for the following:
Is the Medication Expired?
You’ve stocked your first aid kit with medication, but it won’t be as effective if it’s expired when you need it. When you perform your regular checks on your first aid kit, check the expiration date on your medications and replace anything that is past it. This ensures that the medication will be most effective when you need it.
Is Your Medical Information Up to Date?
You should include within your first aid kit all relevant medical information so that, in an emergency, it is all readily accessible. When you check your first aid kit, make sure that your medical information is still accurate. If you or anyone in your family has started taking a new medication or has been diagnosed with something, ensure it is included in the paperwork.
Additionally, if you have switched doctors, make sure that your current provider is also listed. Ensuring all this information is accurate makes it easy should you need to access it in an emergency.
Have You Used Anything?
If you’ve gone into your first aid kit since your last check, you will want to ensure it is still fully stocked. For instance, if you’ve gone in to use band-aids, you will want to add some more, or if you’ve had to use your EpiPen, you’ll want to replace it with a new one.
To help with this, some people find that making a list of everything in their first aid kit allows them to quickly go through it and make sure that they are fully stocked. Additionally, this list can help in an emergency as it lets you quickly see precisely what is in your first aid kit.
Does It Fit Your Needs?
If you’re planning on going camping and are going through your first aid kit, there may be a few things you want to add, such as elastic bandages in case you sprain an ankle while hiking or insect repellent to keep away bugs and their bites. When you check your first aid kit, this is a great time to add anything you need for your specific situation.
A first aid kit is a bag, pouch, or box containing the most commonly used medical supplies. Some of the most common and necessary first aid supplies include bandages, elastic wraps, cold compresses, and antiseptic wipes/liquid.
A first aid kit aims to address the medical concern and either relieve it or suppress it until additional attention can be received. By creating your own first aid kit, you can also customize it to your family’s needs or the activity you are completing, such as a sport or hiking.
For the first aid kit to be most effective, it must be in an easily accessible location, such as a house or car. Additionally, you should check it periodically to ensure the medication isn’t expired, it is fully stocked, and all medical information is up-to-date.
- Makes a First Aid Kit. (2023). https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/anatomy-of-a-first-aid-kit.html
- First-aid kits: Stock supplies that can save lives. (2022). https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-kits/basics/art-20056673
- Preparing Your First Aid Kit. (2023). https://portal.ct.gov/AdvocatesCorner/Life-Tips/Your-Safety/Preparing-Your-First-Aid-Kit
- What should I keep in my first aid kit? (2021). https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/accidents-first-aid-and-treatments/what-should-i-keep-in-my-first-aid-kit/
- How to Build a First Aid Kit. Retrieved. (2022). https://www.pcofiowa.com/find-medical-services/primary-care-family-medicine/how-to-build-a-first-aid-kit/
- Your home’s first responder: Stocking a first aid kit. (2023). https://www.peacehealth.org/healthy-you/your-homes-first-responder-stocking-first-aid-kit
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