We hope you are having a wonderful Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As you relax with your families and plan out some of the trips you are hoping to take this year it may be a good time to start thinking about going through your First Aid Kit to make sure all your gear is in working order and nothing has expired.
If you have never put a First Aid Kit together or have been considering buying a premade kit this article will help you think through what you should have in it for you when you need it most. First Aid Kits are an important part of your survival gear and are worth taking a bit of time to think through properly.
Should I Buy a Kit or Make a Kit?
While there are some truly remarkable pre-assembled first aid kits available on the market, your first aid should always be customized to your family’s personal needs. No first aid kit will come stocked with everything your particular family needs and may come equipped with some things you may never use. What may be an essential item for someone else’s bag may not serve a purpose in yours.
Before you get started, ask yourself some questions about who will likely need to use the kit, and what types of emergencies you may have.
Who will be using the kit?
Will this kit just be for yourself? Will it be for your entire family? Do you have small children in your family? Do you have older individuals in your family? Does anyone have special medical conditions like diabetes, severe allergies, or a predisposition towards any ailments?
These questions help you to get an idea of what items may be important for you to include. Insulin and epi-pens can be life-saving medicine but are often not included in an off the shelf First Aid Kit. Likewise, if you have small children you should also include children’s aspirin, gentle cleaning agents, and child-appropriate medical treatment options.
Older Adults will need special consideration in a first aid kit as well. As we age our skin and bones become much more fragile. Applying a typical bandaid to a senior’s skin could induce significant tearing in the skin. Opt instead for self-adhesive wrap bandages or butterfly bandages that are much more gentle at closing a wound. This Very Well Health article goes into more detail on medical supplies for seniors.
Be aware of any prescription medicine your family is on and how that medicine may react to over the counter medication in your First Aid Kit.
What types of situations are likely to produce injuries?
When packing a medical kit it is important to consider where you will be and what type of injuries you may encounter. It’s time to let that worst-case scenario play out in your mind. Do you have what you need to clean and treat a cut from your knife while building a campfire? Or do you have something to treat sunburn and windburn? How far removed will you be from emergency medical help? Do you need trauma gear or signaling flares?
- Pack your emergency kit in a waterproof container.
- Your kit should be EASY to access QUICKLY for everyone in the family.
- DO NOT keep your medical kit in the bathroom as the humidity of that environment can ruin supplies and cause medicines to expire early.
- Evaluate your First Aid Kit every 6 months to ensure the medicine has not expired and replace any prescription drugs you have in your kit. You can even check your medical kit on the same day you rotate your food rations.
- Items like bandages and gloves won’t need to be replaced unless the packaging is torn or deteriorating. If the packaging has been compromised it may no longer be sterile and should be replaced.
Supplies to Consider:
- Adhesive bandages in an assortment of sizes. Consider packing some colorful options for small children.
- Sterile gauze dressings in various sizes.
- Instant hot and cold compresses.
- Pain killers.
- Burn cream or aloe vera.
- Antiseptic cream.
- Skin rash creams, such as hydrocortisone or calendula.
- Cream or spray to treat bug bites and stings.
- Cough medicine.
- Allergy medicine.
- Saline solution or eyewash bath.
- Distilled water or other wound cleaning agents such as moist towelette.
- Sterile gloves to reduce the risk of infection.
- Sterile tweezers and scissors.
- Emergency blanket.
- Triangular bandages that can be used as an arm sling.
- Small trash bag for safe disposal of medical supplies.
- Emergency numbers for poison control and primary care doctors for each member of the household.
If you aren’t how much of each item to pack, the Red Cross has a recommended list for a family of four that will give you an idea of how much of each item to have on hand.
Where to Have a First Aid Kit Handy
- Your Home
- Your Car
- Your Boat
- Your Camping and Hiking Gear
- Your Go Bag
The Mayo Clinic’s list of recommended first aid supplies: https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-kits/basics/art-20056673
Additional First Aid Information from WebMD: