Having a fully stocked first aid kit at home is one of the best ways to make sure you’re prepared when minor injuries occur. In fact, a good first aid kit may even prevent you from having to seek professional medical care if you’re able to treat the injury at home instead.
So what exactly should you have in your first aid kit so you’re ready for whatever accident might happen? Here’s a look at how you can best prepare yourself and your family.
What Are the Supplies in a Basic First Aid Kit?
Although it’s impossible to anticipate exactly what supplies you might need should an accident occur, there are several supplies that can serve multiple purposes and are great to have on hand at all times.
Whether your child falls off their bike or you end up mishandling a kitchen knife, scrapes and cuts are two of the most common types of injuries. Unfortunately, when left untreated, they can easily become infected. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly clean the wound with a cream or spray antiseptic to make sure it can properly begin healing.
This is a must for cuts, scrapes, and wounds. After you’ve cleaned the affected area either with soap and water or an antiseptic solution, apply an antibiotic cream to ensure the area does not get infected.
Bandages and gauze pads
Once the wound has been cleaned correctly, a bandage or gauze pad can further help to protect the area from infection. Typically, bandages are used for minor cuts and scrapes, while gauze pads are reserved for more serious injuries.
If possible, try to find a package of bandages that offers a variety of sizes. For gauze pads, larger sizes are best so that you can cut them down if needed. You will also want to include scissors in your kit so you can easily cut the gauze.
Another solution to help with cleaning wounds or even insect bites is rubbing alcohol. You can also use alcohol wipes if those save space in your first aid kit.
Instant cold and hot pack
To keep swelling to a minimum for sprains, bruises, and bumps, instant cold and hot packs are a great option. Keep in mind that most can only be used once, so you may want to keep extra at home as a backup.
It’s a good idea to keep several different types of pain relievers in your first aid kit such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin IB). Not only can this medication offer relief if you’re in pain, but aspirin can be life-saving for an adult with chest pain. You should never give aspirin to children.
Important phone numbers
In addition to the medical supplies above, you should always have a list of emergency phone numbers as well as your own contact information inside your first aid kit. Include your family health care provider, pediatrician, poison helpline, local emergency services, and emergency road service providers.
If space allows, it’s smart to keep sunscreen, insect repellent, a flashlight, and extra batteries in your first aid kid. Many people also like to have a space blanket in case they get stranded on the side of the road without access to heat.
Where to buy first aid kit supplies
Most supplies for a first aid kit can be found at your local grocery store or drug store. If there is something specific you can’t find, you may also want to search online. Many places, including American Red Cross, also sell pre-packaged first aid kits, so you don't have to worry about assembling your own. You should, however, add anything you feel you might need to the kit.
How often should you restock your first aid kit?
Hopefully, your first aid kit won’t be used often. But even if it hasn’t been used recently, it’s a good idea to check your kit every few months to make sure the batteries still work. Any medication that you have in your kit can also expire, so check the dates on those any time you’re doing a checkup.
Things to do before using your first aid kit
Because emergencies typically require fast action, you should familiarize yourself with the ingredients of the first aid kit before you ever need to use it. Take note of dosages and directions of any medications.
You may also want to provide a checklist of each item in your kit so you know what a “full stock” looks like and when items expire. This will help you recognize what you need whenever you’re doing a checkup of your kit as well.
Where should you keep a first aid kit?
It’s recommended that you keep a first aid kit both in your home and in your car. Because most first aid kits contain supplies that are not child-friendly, you should always keep your kits somewhere that’s out of the reach of young children. Make sure all adults in your home are aware of the kit's location in case of an emergency.
It’s also smart to keep your first aid kit out of the bathroom, as the humidity from the bathroom can cause items in your kit to have a shorter shelf life.
While most minor injuries can be treated at home using the supplies you have in your first aid kit, you may find yourself or a loved one with an injury that requires greater medical attention. When this happens, an urgent care clinic is a great solution to get you treated quickly and be to yourself in no time.
At CareNow®, we offer a number of services, including diagnoses and treatment for sprains, scrapes, bug bites, burns, bruises, and other injuries. With more than 175 locations throughout the country, each open after hours and on the weekend, we’re ready to serve you when and where you need it.
We’ve also earned the distinction of Accredited Urgent Care Center from our industry’s association, Urgent Care Association (UCA), so you know you’re getting only the best care.
Be sure to utilize our Web Check-In® feature before your visit so you can wait from home, not in a lobby.