Top 5 Tips for First Aid Kits

by Baylor Scott & White Staff on June 6, 2012

in Safety

In the chance of an emergency, you don’t want to be left without a basic first aid kit. By planning ahead, you can treat common symptoms, injuries and accidents.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare your first aid kit.

1. Have multiple kits

Susan Burchfield, with Scott & White Trauma Injury Prevention and Outreach  says, “There is a need to have multiple first aid kits located in several handy areas.”

More specifically, she suggests:

  • In the car, chose items that might be needed for minor aches and pains, scrapes, bumps, burns and insect bites. Make sure it’s small enough to fit in the glove box or trunk so it’s accessible. Burchfield says the idea is to have enough selection for basic care but keep it small enough to transport conveniently.
  • At home, the kit may be larger. Keep it in a safe storage spot and out of the reach of children. Assembling the items in a marked container helps to keep them together and accessible in emergencies.
  • For certain activities, she mentions that you may want to expand your kit:  Sun screen for outside fun; extra Band-Aids to cover blisters from walking; drops for swimmer’s ear for around the pool; nausea treatments for long car rides. In cold weather, include a blanket and extra water if you will be traveling on icy roads. Always have a flashlight and batteries close by. “Be prepared and think ahead,” she says.

2. Know how to use the items

Make sure your supplies are in one location so you know exactly where they are. Practice opening the packets and then placing on a bandage. Burchfield says this can be a fun exercise with the kids. Read the instruction materials before you need them.

If you’re looking for instruction, WikiBooks has an extensive section on first aid that has been put together by numerous sources. In emergencies, you rarely have Internet access, so we suggest printing the PDF. It’s over 100 pages but it’s mostly black and white and can be printed double-sided.

3. Keep your kit up-to-date

It’s a good idea to check your kit regularly. It’s a terrible feeling when you think you have that bandage or medication, only to find that you already used your last one. Check up on supplies and replace any that are getting low or have expired.

4. Don’t forget emergency contact numbers

It’s important to include emergency contact numbers in your kit. “In the frenzy of the moment, you may not remember,” says Burchfield.

She also suggests clarifying your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts on your cell phone. This notation quickly advises emergency personnel of who you want to be contacted in case of emergency.

Emergency care is only as good as you are trained and equipped to provide. Don’t forget to call 911 for help and instructions.

5. Add basic first aid items

A tackle box or art-supply box works well for storing the first aid supplies. They are lightweight, have handles for easy carrying, and generally have trays or swing out sections for storing small items.

The Red Cross recommends the following items be included in a first aid kit for a family of four:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (maxi-pads also work, especially in an auto accident when heavy bleeding may need to be quickly handled)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 roll adhesive cloth tape
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (to fight infection and speed healing)
  • 5 antiseptic cleansing wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin or other pain reliever
  • 1 blanket
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves
  • 2 packets of hydrocortisone (anti-itch) ointment (temporary relief of itching associated with minor skin irritations, inflammation)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roll of bandages
  • 5 sterile gauze pads
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • Tweezers
  • First aid instruction booklet
  • Any other medications commonly used by you or your family (sun screen, eye drops, sunburn gel, insect repellent, motion-sickness medicine, prescriptions, etc.)

Are there any other items you recommend adding to a first aid kit? What has been helpful for your family?


Previous post:

Next post: