What Should Be in a First Aid Kit?

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

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

Medication

  • 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 Items

  • 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. 

FAQ

Key Takeaways

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. 

Sources:

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

DrHouse

Healthcare

on your schedule

Skip the unnecessary waiting room,
see a board-certified clinician now.

Start an Online Visit
Available in 50 states. No insurance needed.

Prescriptions as needed
Renew or get a new Rx.

On-demand virtual visits
See a clinician in 15 minutes.

24/7 care support
We are here to help you.

DrHouse
  • 1

    Download the DrHouse app.
    Set up your free account in a minute.

  • 2

    Start a visit with an online doctor. Wait time is less than 15 minutes.

  • 3

    Get an Rx from your preferred pharmacy. Pick up a Rx nearby or get it delivered to you.

Download our app