Over 1,000 deaths could be prevented each year by having someone use first aid on an injured person. Having a first aid kit nearby makes treatment and the success rate much higher during an emergency. That is because a kit has the supplies needed to treat many injuries that if left untreated could be serious and even deadly.
If you don’t have one already, a homemade first aid kit is essential for you and your family’s safety. Read on to find out why you need one, what it can be used for, and what to include in your first aid kit:
Why Have a First Aid Kit?
Before you find out what goes in a first aid kit, you should know why it is important to have one in the first place.
Even the smallest cuts and scrapes are the starting point of a potential skin infection, as bacteria can enter the body through any break in the skin. Cleaning and bandaging the wound will ensure that it is free from harmful dirt and bacteria.
More serious wounds can lead to a loss of blood. For example, if you hit a vein or artery from a deep laceration. Burns, bug and animal bites, stings, and splinters can also be treated by a first aid kit.
Internal conditions like cardiac arrest, heat exhaustion, dehydration, sprains, and torn muscles can all temporarily be treated until further medical assistant from a hospital is available.
What is a First Aid Kit Used For?
A first aid kit is a travel size medical case that serves as an immediate treatment to minor injuries and a temporary solution to major injuries. Its compact size makes it perfect for on the go medical needs.
They are required in most public spaces such as places of employment and wherever the public resides.
Most professional kits include an AED (automated external defibrillator) to determine if a cardiac episode is occurring by monitoring the heart’s rhythms. It then can administer an electronic shock to resuscitate the person.
What to Include in a Homemade First Aid Kit?
Now that you know why you should have one you need to know what to put in a first aid kit. Your kit should include the basic essentials in addition to specific items based on your location, planned activities, and preexisting medical conditions.
Include Basic Essentials
Most standard first aid kits will include several basics that will treat cuts, scrapes, burns, headaches, and bug bites. Equipment to safely apply the medicine will also be included in some kits.
Here is a basic first aid kit content list and their uses:
- Bandages (see below for specific types): cover wombs of various sizes
- Non-alcoholic wipes: clean wounds before applying bandages
- Gauze: wipe wounds clear of blood before cleaning or to wrap sprains
- Antiseptic cream: applied to a cleaned wound to prevent infection
- Adhesive tape: secures gauze and certain bandages
- Bug bite spray: eases the burning sensation of bug bite
- Antihistamine pills or cream: stops allergic reactions
- Ibuprofen: eases pains caused by headaches, broken bones, and inflammation
- Scissors: cuts tape, gauze, and clothes in case access to wounds are blocked
- Plastic gloves: protects the first aid responder from blood pathogens
- Tweezers: removes splinters and ticks from the skin
These items cover many injuries and help you treat the condition while you make it home or to the hospital for further care.
Start by making a list of your potential hazards. For example, if you go camping often and encounter poisonous snakes then you need to include a snake-bite kit. Or if you have had a heart attack in the past then include a bottle of aspirin.
These items might not be included in a store-bought first aid kit so you will need to add them yourself.
- Aspirin: prevent a cardiac event
- Snake bite kit (suction, scalpel, constriction band): stop the spread of venom from a snake bite
- Distilled water: clean deep wounds before bandages are applied
- Cough medicine: for a long trip where illnesses could occur
- Rash cream: ease itching from poisonous plants during your time in the wilderness
- Eye-wash bath: remove chemicals from your eyes if working with dangerous substances
- Epinephrine autoinjector (Epipen): treats severe allergic reactions
- Thermometer: detect fevers
- Hand sanitizer: cleans your hands before treating a wound
Add more personal items as needed such as prescription medication. Be sure to secure items and keep them locked and away from small children.
Items for Children
You should include kid-friendly items in your first aid kit. Small, child-themed bandages fit tiny body parts and make kids feel better when injuries. You also want to keep children’s medicine available since adult versions are too potent and dangerous. Child pain reliever, cough medicine, and even sunscreen should be included in your kit if you have kids.
Make a separate section for your child-safe items so that they don’t get mixed with the adult supplies.
Items for the Elderly
If you are or care for a senior who requires certain medical assistance then have a customized kit to fit their needs. An ice pad or heat therapy pack can assist with swollen joints and inflammation. If they are prone to falling then these can help ease the pain until an ambulance arrives.
Also include a list of medications in the kit so that an EMT, doctor, or first responder knows what type of medications might be inside the kit. Certain treatments may react to their medicines so this can be handy to doctors.
Emergency numbers can also be helpful if the elderly person is alone at home or driving. Their family can be called to assist with the injury.
Keeping Your Kit Stocked and Sterile
The items in your first aid kit can disappear fast so keep an inventory of all of your supplies. Check your kit monthly to see if you need to make a trip to the store to restock. Also, check to see if items have expired. You might not use your burn cream very often, so replace it when it goes past its expiration.
Bandages are the most used item in your box, so keep extra ones in your bathroom to restock them easily. You can buy them in bulk to avoid many visits to the store.
Sterile items need to remain in their individually wrapped packages. Wipes, gauze, and bandages should be thrown away if ripped and exposed to the air. They can cause an infection if they aren’t sterile when applied to a wound.
Various Bandages Sizes
One size doesn’t fit every person, body part, or accident type. Keep a wide range of bandage sizes in your kit to accommodate every person and all injuries. Some standards sizes include large padded bandages. These are used for knees and elbows that are a common point of injuries for children who fall down outside.
Butterfly bandages work like stitches and should be used for shallow cuts that are straight and narrow. Use them to hold together both sides of the skin to stop bleeding and promote faster healing.
Finger bandages come in various widths and fit most size fingers and toes for simple cuts. They can also be used on the legs, arms, and forehead for minor lacerations.
Roller bandages come in one long piece and are wrapped around gauze to keep them in place. They need to be held together by tape.
Triangular bandages are one piece of material cut in a triangle. They are used to construct a sling for arm sprains. Use this to keep the arm from bending to heal tissue.
Tubular bandages don’t cover wounds, rather they support sprained joints and ligaments. These types of bandages can be used several times as they are a thicker and more durable material used to compress the body.
Who Can Use a First Aid Kit and What Training is Needed?
Children should never be allowed to play with or use the items in a first aid kid. Applying first aid to someone may seem like common sense but it involves more than applying a bandage.
In fact, many Americans aren’t confident that they can perform first aid without proper training. This can lead to serious injuries and deaths, which could be prevented. First aid training gives you the confidence to check vital signs, prevent injuries from worsening, protect yourself from disease, make the injured person more comfortable, and keep everyone calm.
You can take first aid training at your local Red Cross or ask your employer to include a training session at your work. Include AED and CPR courses to be prepared for any type of situation.
You will also be able to rely on your coworkers to help if you ever become injured.
Where to Buy Supplies?
Your employer has a standard first aid kit in your office. At home, a store-bought one comes with most items on your first aid kits contents list. However, you might want to customize your kit based on your needs. You can also choose the brands and quality of your kit’s contents if you make your own.
The first thing you need to buy is a case for your supplies. A durable box with a child-safety lock will last longer and keep your children safe.
Look for a kit with several compartments that opens like a tackle box with retracting levels. This will allow you to have the most space and keep everything organized. You don’t want to search for an item when someone is in need of quick medical care.
Next, to find what should be in a first aid kit look in your pharmacy’s or grocery store’s medical aisle. You might need to get specific prescriptions filled for any personal conditions. Specialty items like snake bite kits can be bought online or may be available in a sporting or camping store.
Look online for anything that you can’t buy at the pharmacy, grocery, or camping store. Be careful that you buy from a reputable shop as online shopping is filled with knock offs and cheap products.
Where to Keep Your First Aid Kit?
Once you have your homemade first aid kit ready you need to know where to keep it. You might want to create a few kits to store them around the house for easy access. In your home, keep your first aid kit in the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms in the medicine cabinet. This will keep them out of reach of small children. You will also know where it is located when needed.
A car first aid kit is perfect for traveling. Make this kit smaller to fit inside the glove box or truck. A travel-size kit should be small to fit in a carry-on and exclude liquids over three ounces to adhere to the Transportation Security Administration regulations. Make another travel-size kit for camping trips and keep in your backpack. Be sure to pack items needed for overnight stays in the wilderness like bug bite ointment and snake bite kits.
No matter where you keep your kit and for what purpose, having a designated spot makes it reliable. You can grab it in an emergency and be prepared for any type of situation.
The most important reason to make your own homemade first aid kit is to improve your quality of health. You can eliminate the chances of contracting a serious infection and provide temporary relief while seeking professional help.
For more wellness tips, check out some of our other articles.