Accidents happen. No matter how cautiously you approach your everyday life, you and others around you will inevitably suffer injuries, from minor burns and scrapes, to broken bones. Part of being adequately prepared for these events includes keeping a well-stocked first aid kit on hand as much as possible.
You should keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your home, in your car, and anywhere else you might spend a lot of time. Although this is not your responsibility as an employee, it is always a good idea to check with your boss or work manager to ensure that the proper first aid supplies are available to you or anyone else in the event of workplace injury.
As previously mentioned, a first aid kit is only helpful if it is in fact well-stocked. This means that you should not only make sure your kit includes the right items and the right amount of each item when you first create it, but that you also need to keep up with replacing items as soon as they are used. Imagine having a first aid kit on hand during an emergency that has everything except that one thing you really need, only because you forgot to restock it in the past.
First aid kits can quickly fill up. You will find that if you follow the recommendations of most medical authorities that the list of what you should have in your kit can go on and on forever. Approaching your kit with an abundance of caution and planning is always ideal, but sometimes it simply is not feasible, perhaps due to cost or the space required to keep all these things on hand.
Luckily, there are many pre-made mini-first aid kits available online. Some are even specifically designed to be used for light travel and can be kept in a personal tote bag without adding too much weight or taking up too much space. When it comes to deciding what kind or how big of a first aid kit to keep in certain places, a good rule of thumb is that a small and basic first aid kit is better than no first aid kit at all.
To help you get started, we have created a comprehensive list of what a first aid kit should include, as well as a brief description of how, when, and why each item should be used.
1. Adhesive tape
Adhesive tape is used to secure bandages and gauze wraps
2. Bandages and gauze pads
Bandages and gauze pads of all kinds are used to treat wounds and to keep open areas protected from dirt, debris, and bacteria. The most important thing when it comes to bandages and gauze is that they are sterile and that they are applied to wound sites with clean and sterile materials. Glove use is always recommended.
3. Elastic wrap bandage and pin
These can be used to treat minor sprains or to hold bandages and gauze together more securely.
4. Scissors and tweezers
These are used to cut materials, remove any debris from wound sites, and apply first aid items with more precision.
5. Cotton balls and cotton swabs
These are both used primarily to clean wound areas and to safely apply medicated ointments or disinfecting substances to wound sites. It is extremely important that these are kept sterile, as they often come in direct contact with the wound itself.
6. Disposable gloves
It is best to always keep multiple pairs of sterile, disposable gloves in your first aid kit to treat wounds and other injuries effectively and also significantly reduce the risk of infection.
7. Petroleum jelly
Petroleum jelly is useful when it comes to first aid because it can help safely keep a wounded area moist, which can aid in the healing process. Always use a sterile cotton ball or swab to apply the jelly so that you do not introduce bacteria into the container.
8. Antibiotic ointment
This can be applied to wound sites in order to lower the risk of infection.
9. Antiseptic wipes
These are primarily used to keep wound sites clean and free from harmful bacteria. They are also commonly used to clean hands or other surfaces before treating wounds and injuries.
10. Hand sanitizer
As with the above, hand sanitizer is used to keep hands as clean as possible before and during treatment.
11. Sterile saline solution
Saline won’t help much when it comes to killing harmful bacteria, but it is an incredibly useful flushing agent. Use it to wash away dirt and debris before applying any medicated creams, antiseptics, or bandages.
Tourniquets are used in the event that an injury causes excessive blood loss. Using tourniquets correctly is extremely important, so we suggest that you enroll in a local first aid course or do more extensive research online.
13. Eyewash solution
This is used to safely flush and rinse the eyes when they are irritated.
A thermometer is important to have so that you can keep track of your body temperature and monitor infection.
15. Medicine cup or syringe
These are used to safely consume medicines without contamination.
16. Over-the-counter pain relieving and fever reducing medication
It is very useful to have these on hand to treat pain associated with minor cuts, scrapes, burns, and sprains, as well as to keep fevers down to safe levels.
17. Aloe vera
Aloe vera soothes and relieves the pain associated with burns specifically. It is also a great natural antiseptic and can aid significantly in the healing process.
18. Antihistamine medication
Antihistamine medication is helpful in reducing the symptoms and severity of allergic reactions.
Wilderness First Aid Extras
As mentioned earlier, the list of what you can include in a first aid kit can really go on forever. There are certain situations and scenarios that may call for special supplies in addition to the standard supplies. One common example is outdoor activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, and camping. Here are five “outdoorsy extras” suggested by Global Emergency Medics who offer Wilderness First Aid certifications.
1. Hydrocortisone cream
Although it is good to keep this in any first aid kit, it is an especially good idea to keep this in a kit meant for outdoor adventure. Hydrocortisone cream is a powerful anti-itch agent, and can help reduce the itching and swelling related to various bug bites and rashes.
2. Calamine lotion
This is also effective when it comes to treating bites and especially rashes related to poison ivy or oak exposure.
3. Sting and bite supplies
There are mini bite and sting kits available that can be helpful when it comes to removing bee or wasp stingers from the skin, as well as sucking out venom from bugs or snakes using a high-suction tool. This could help reduce the effects of exposure to insect or snake venom and poison.
In addition to keeping the items listed above, you should also have on-hand a list of emergency contact information, as well as a list or record of any allergies or medical conditions you or your family members may have. Further, having certain preventative supplies with you, such as sunscreen and insect repellant, can help you avoid having to use your first aid kit for specific problems (like sunburns and bug bites). A flashlight is also a good idea, to ensure that you can effectively use your first aid kit to treat injuries even in the dark.
Lastly, a first aid kit is only as handy as its user. To make the most of your kit, take the time to learn how to properly use each item, especially items like tourniquets used for more serious injuries. You may also consider taking a CPR or first aid response class online or at your local community center.