A first aid kit is a must in any house. It keeps you prepared for in-home emergencies such as cuts, scrapes, and other injuries. It can also hold supplies for getting through disasters like a power outage or blizzard. Whether you buy one or build one yourself, here are the items you should keep in your home’s first aid kit.
1. Bandages and Cleaning Supplies
Cuts, scrapes, and burns are among some of the most common injuries you might experience in your home. To address these injuries, you should keep your first aid kit well-stocked with items such as:
- Adhesive bandages of various sizes
- Gauze pads
- Adhesive bandage tape
- Roller bandages
- Antiseptic wipes
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Latex gloves
2. A Thermometer
While a person’s “normal” body temperature can vary slightly throughout the day, a temperature that’s suddenly high could indicate an illness or infection. Keeping a thermometer in an easy-to-access spot can help you check yourself or another member of your family for a fever and determine what steps you might need to take next.
3. Over-the-Counter Medications
Whether you’re dealing with a headache, muscle aches, itching, inflammation, or stomachache, over-the-counter medications can often help you manage the symptoms. Keep your first-aid kit stocked with such medications as:
4. Prescription Medication
If you take prescription medications, you should have at least enough for a week stashed in your first aid kit. Keeping a small stock of your regular medications can be beneficial in an emergency situation, such as a blizzard, hurricane, or other disaster. You should also keep a current list of your medications and your dosing instructions in your kit.
5. Instant Heat and Cold Packs
Even at home, you can bump your head, slip, trip, and fall. These injuries can cause pain. If you don’t have ice packs in your freezer (or your power goes out and you can’t use your microwave), instant heat and cold packs can help. While you store them at room temperature, you can activate them by squeezing them. The water and salt then mix inside the pack, triggering a warming or cooling reaction.
Getting a splinter or shard of glass stuck in your skin is never pleasant. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can also lead to an infection if it’s left too long.
Tweezers can help you remove stubborn splinters. Keeping them in your emergency kit means you can access them quickly instead of trying to search through the house to find them.
7. Water and Non-Perishable Food Items
Keeping a supply of water and non-perishable food items can be beneficial in emergency situations like blizzards or power outages. Store a supply of bottled water and foods that are easy to prepare without electricity.
8. Emergency Blankets
In colder months, one of the last things you want is to be without heat. If you do lose power, having blankets on hand can help provide warmth. You might even consider keeping specialized emergency blankets (also called space blankets) in your kit. Their materials trap your body heat so that it stays close to you and keeps you warm.
9. A Radio
When the power goes out, especially during a severe storm, staying tuned to the local news and weather is essential. You could use your smartphone, but you may want to preserve the battery, even with a fully charged portable charger. Instead, your emergency kit should include a battery-powered or hand-crank AM/FM radio. That way, you can listen for updates, alerts, and more.
10. A Flashlight
If you lose power at night — or need to do something at night — an LED flashlight and extra batteries are beneficial to have on hand. You might also consider a few small battery-powered lanterns so that you have light in a few key locations around your house if necessary.
11. A Phone Charger
Your cellphone can do a lot. You can use it to check the news and weather, contact friends and family to make sure they’re safe, and get in touch with emergency services if needed. But it won’t do you any good if the battery gets too low or dies. A fully charged portable phone charger can help keep your phone powered, even when everything else goes out.
12. Emergency Contacts
Finally, it’s never a bad idea to have a list of emergency contacts in your first aid kit. Even though you can store numbers on your smartphone, you might not have the number for your local fire or police department. You might also want to have numbers for your physician, pediatrician, and poison control. That way, you can quickly get in touch with whomever you need when you need them.
As a Remote Medical International instructor, I always carry a proper first aid kit with me when traveling. No matter where we work or adventure, the bare minimum in our first aid kits should include the tools to control bleeding, support breathing, and perform CPR. I have had the opportunity to put my kit to use recently, traveling Kauai’s Kalalau Trail. This rugged trail that traverses along the steep cliffs of the Na’ pali Coast. The lure of this trail is the paradise beach setting, but one must first make it through flash floods zones and slick, muddy trail. My partner, Ben, and I had planned a 4-day backpacking trip in the area.
Unfortunately, not far into the hike, Ben kicked a rock with his Chaco-clad foot. Sure enough, there was quite the avulsion of skin atop his big toe and the nail was bent backward. Our biggest concern then became protecting the wound from infection. We quickly pulled out our first aid kit to find a syringe, irrigation cap, 4×4 gauze, and athletic tape. We did the best we could on the scene to debride the wound using the syringe and about a half liter of drinking water, then mustered a bandage strong enough to withstand the upcoming miles of the Kalalau Trail.
Top 10 First Aid Kit Items
Here are the top 10 absolute-must-have medical supplies Remote Medical International instructors carry in their kits:
- Gloves/Eye Protection
- CPR Pocket Mask
- Roller Gauze
- 4×4 Gauze Pads
- Medical Tape
- Two Triangular Bandages
- Sam Splint
- Elastic Bandage
- Trauma Shears
For more remote environments and projects, consider also adding the following items necessary for managing wounds:
- 20 mL Syringe & Irrigation Cap
- Benzoin Tincture
- Biodegradable Soap
- Opposite Flexi-grip film
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