The Proper Supplies

In order to properly administer first aid, you will need a good first-aid kit. The better stocked and organized your first-aid kit is, the more likely you are to effectively respond to emergencies in your home.

Keep a written list of kit supplies in your home, along with your emergency plan, and be sure to restock the kit as needed and replace items with expired dates, items that have been used, or anything with an open package or broken seal that is supposed to be sterile. Keep a first-aid manual like this one with your kit, along with your list of emergency phone numbers, your list or chart of family's medical conditions and medications, and a flashlight.

Alert!

Be sure to keep first-aid supplies out of the reach of children and pets, as many first-aid supplies are potentially hazardous. Your kit should be in an accessible place, but not one that a child or pet could easily reach, either on their own or with the help of a chair, for instance.

The Right Container

Use a container with a strong handle that can be closed securely, and clearly mark it “First-Aid Kit.” Commercial kits can be purchased from many sources, but any large, well-built plastic fishing-tackle box or toolbox works great, and is usually much cheaper.

Ideally, you want your kit to be light enough to carry, but large enough to hold all necessary items in an organized and easily accessible format. It should be dust proof, waterproof, and sturdy enough to resist damage from falling or crushing.

The Right Location

Store your kit safely in a cool, dry location inside your home. Avoid storing it in the garage or laundry room because of the potential harm to its contents from moisture and temperature extremes. Pick a location in your home that is central and accessible to everyone who will be using the kit.

Essential

Your family medical list or chart should include any information needed for reference by you, paramedics, or doctors including shot records with dates, medical problems and conditions, medications, and allergies.

The Right Contents

The ideal kit that will prepare you for most injuries and household emergencies should include the following items:

  • Benadryl (generic Diphenhydramine)

  • Antibiotic ointment or cream

  • Activated charcoal (only use if instructed by the Poison Control Center)

  • Antacid (liquid)

  • Calamine lotion

  • Antihistamine cream

  • 1% hydrocortisone cream

  • Povidone-iodine solution

  • Aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen

  • Sterile eye-wash solution

  • Epinephrine auto-injector kit (if prescribed by your doctor)

  • Extra prescribed medications (such as inhalers)

Your kit should also contain bandages and dressing supplies including:

  • Commercial Band-Aid bandages

  • Sterile cotton balls

  • Cotton-tipped swabs

  • Sterile gauze (pads and rolls)

  • Elastic bandage rolls

  • Extra bandage clips

  • Butterfly bandages

  • Sterile eye patches

  • Regular adhesive bandages (multiple sizes)

  • Adhesive tape (waterproof and stretchable)

  • Triangular bandages

  • Large foil-lined bandage

Fact

Epinephrine is for emergency use on persons with sudden, severe symptoms or reactions to any allergen such as certain foods, insect stings, and inhaled allergens. If anyone in your family has ever had such a reaction, ask your family doctor to prescribe an Epinephrine auto-injector and to instruct you on how to use it.

Additionally you should include tools and other items such as:

  • Bulb syringe

  • Medicine spoon (transparent tube marked with typical dosage amounts)

  • Small paper cups

  • Clean cloths and tissues

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Digital thermometer (and rectal thermometer for babies less than one year old)

  • Small jar of petroleum jelly

  • Sterile disposable gloves

  • Disposable CPR face mask

  • Safety pins

  • Scissors (the sharp, angular style with rounded end)

  • Tweezers

  • Tooth-preservation kit

  • Space blanket

  • Penlight

  • Small pad of paper and pencil

  • Emergency candle and waterproof matches

  • Disposable self-activating cold and hot packs

  • Magnifying glass

  • Whistle

Alert!

Aspirin and children's aspirin should never be given to children under age 16 who have flu-like symptoms or chickenpox. Aspirin may cause Reye's syndrome, which is a life-threatening condition affecting the nervous system and liver.

When preparing your kit, think about your family's medical history, such as drug allergies and risk factors, and keep these drug warnings in mind. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs may cause stomach bleeding and kidney injury even when taken as directed.

The risk is generally higher in people older than 59, those with stomach ulcers, and anyone who takes blood-thinning drugs or steroids while taking NSAID medications for an extended period. Acetaminophen carries a risk of severe liver damage when people take more than the recommended dose or have three or more alcoholic drinks while taking it.

Many over-the-counter medicines (OTC) contain acetaminophen, so check the label of all medicines to make sure you are not exceeding the recommended maximum dose of four grams or four thousand milligrams for a healthy adult in a 24-hour period.

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