First Aid Kit Essentials: What You Need to Keep Handy
If you’re reading this article, then chances are high that you’re a human being who will, at some point in the future, get injured in some way. Injuries can range from simple cuts and scrapes, to more serious problems like broken bones and wounds requiring stitches. Regardless of the severity of the injury, having a well-stocked first aid kit is one of the best ways to stay prepared and ensure you can take care of yourself or those around you in case of any emergency.
Here are some essentials that you should consider including in your first aid kit:
Disposable Sterile Gloves: When dealing with open wounds, it’s essential to avoid contamination with dirt or bacteria. Keep a few packages of sterile, non-latex gloves in your first aid kit and replace them after use.
Flashlight and Extra Batteries: A flashlight can come in handy if you need to help someone in the dark, such as during a power outage. Keep extra batteries in your kit and check them regularly to make sure they are still functional.
Rubbing Alcohol Swabs: These are necessary to clean and disinfect wounded areas.
Adhesive Bandages (such as Band-Aids): These are multi-purpose gems that can be used to keep a cut clean or cushion a blister. It’s important to have a variety of sizes and styles in your first aid kit.
Sterile Gauze Pads: These are perfect for placing on burns, bad scrapes, or larger cuts that need help clotting.
Medical Tape: This is used to hold the gauze in place, and can even be cut into strips to hold large cuts together until the injured person can be stitched up at a hospital.
Scissors: Keep a pair of scissors in your kit to cut the tape or gauze pad into the required size or shape. They’re also helpful when cutting away fabric in case of serious injuries.
Tweezers: These are necessary to remove splinters, bits of gravel, or other foreign objects that may become lodged in the skin.
Hydrocortisone Cream: It is used to alleviate itching and swelling from reactions to insect bites and bee stings.
Cloth Bandage and Clips: These are ideal for immobilizing wrist, ankle, and knee injuries and can also be used as a makeshift sling. It’s critical to familiarize yourself with bandaging techniques for different injuries so that you’ll know what you’re doing in case you ever need to use them.
Chemical “Instant” Ice Pack: These are a brilliant invention that contains chemicals which, when the pack is crushed, will meld together to create a cold effect. They’re useful for keeping in your car or home when you cannot use a freezer pack.
Thermometer: In case someone’s running a fever, you can monitor their temperature to determine whether there’s improvement or if they require additional treatment.
Pain Relief Medication: Ibuprofen is ideal, but acetaminophen is also useful to keep on hand. They do serve different purposes: the former is great for muscle and injury pain and reducing inflammation, while the latter is better for reducing fevers and alleviating headaches. Acetaminophen is safer for pregnant or nursing women.
In addition to all of these items, you should include a laminated – or otherwise waterproofed – list of emergency phone numbers such as local hospitals, primary care physicians, other healthcare workers (naturopaths, chiropractors, therapists), next of kin/emergency contact, family members, and even veterinarians (in case of emergency pet first aid). You should also have a first aid manual on hand in case the caregiver’s mind goes blank under duress.
Lastly, you may wish to put a reflective blanket in your kit to help treat shock, as well as a bottle of spring water, Gatorade (to neutralize electrolytes if the patient is dehydrated), and some energy bars that can be used to boost blood sugar. These are especially important if you carry a car’s first aid kit as accidents can happen anytime.
When choosing what to add to your first aid kit, it is always better to have something and never need it than need it and not have it. Make a checklist of the essential items mentioned above and keep them handy to stay prepared for any emergency, big or small.