When an emergency arises, you can never be too prepared. Having a well-stocked first aid kit can prevent tragedy and buy time when a loved one is injured.
The following checklist includes all of the items that the Homeland Security’s Ready America program suggests for a first aid kit. Best of all, these items are readily available at any drug store or large retailer.
1. Adhesive Bandages
A box of adhesive bandages is never a bad idea. From minor cuts and scrapes to larger burns and injuries, adhesive bandages do their part to ease pain and prevent infection. In addition to the traditional mixed pack of smaller bandages, purchase a couple larger bandages as well.
To avoid an infection in a small cut, it is important to always have an antiseptic in your first aid kit. Whether you are hiking in the woods or hanging out at the water park, you never know what kind of bacteria or viruses may be lurking. The FDA has cleared for use ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, phenol, hydrogen peroxide solution, iodine topical solution and several other over-the-counter antiseptics for home use. However, the FDA also warns that the instructions for each antiseptic should be read carefully, as some of the instructions may be surprising. One small bottle of antiseptic or handful of wet, antimicrobial towelettes should be sufficient. Additionally, antibacterial ointment may be carried for smaller cuts.
3. Burn Ointment
Burns can occur unexpectedly. Even the smallest burn is very painful and can result in infection. Burn ointments work to numb the affected skin and disinfect the surrounding area.
4. Elastic Wrap/Ace Bandages
An elastic wrap is necessary to mind breaks and sprains. Elastic wraps can also act as tourniquets when someone is bleeding heavily.
5. Eye Wash
Eye injuries can be very serious. When a piece of debris or chemical enters the eye, it is important to flush it out quickly to prevent blindness or painful scratches, and chemical burns in the eye’s cornea. Pack one large package of solution or several individual containers.
6. First Aid Manual
A good first aid manual will help you deal with any emergency. From frostbite to heart attack, there are tips to help make the best of any situation. This may be the most important part of any first aid kit.
If any member of the family has prescription medications, it is important to pack extra doses in your first aid kit. However, it is also smart to pack ibuprofen for fever, antidiarrheal to prevent dehydration, and antihistamine in the event of an unforeseen allergic reaction.
8. Sterile Dressings
Sterile dressings work well to stop heavy bleeding or to cover large sores to prevent infection. One box of 4-inch square dressings or one roll of gauze should be sufficient. It is also wise to carry a role of medical tape in case a sterile dressing needs to be adhered to the skin.
When an infection sets in, one of the first signs of a real problem is a high fever. If camping out or stranded, a digital thermometer becomes very important. A high fever related to infection should be treated quickly.
10. Miscellaneous items
In addition to the things mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have the following: tweezers, finger splints, instant cold packs, emergency blankets, petroleum jelly, latex gloves, hand sanitizer, a flashlight and hydrocortisone.
Does your family have a first aid kit?