First Aid Kit Essentials
Burn ointment, pain relievers, and prescription meds — these are just a few of the supplies that should stock your first aid kit. Use this checklist to make sure you're covered.
By Krisha McCoy
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Do you have a first aid kit at home? Is it well stocked? The supplies in your first aid kit can help keep minor injuries from turning into major emergencies, and keeping it packed with the essentials is an excellent way to increase your safety at home.
In addition to your home, you should also be prepared on the road by keeping a first aid kit in your car. You may also want to carry some first aid kit basics in your tote or purse.
You can purchase ready-made first aid kits from most drugstores, but it is also easy to put one together yourself. Keep in mind that with a store-bought kit, you will probably need to add certain items to fit your family's specific needs. Since you may already have many first aid kit items around the house, making the kit yourself can help you save money.
A First Aid Kit Supply Checklist
A first aid kit container should be clean, durable, easy to carry, and large enough to fit all of your supplies. When you are assembling your first aid kit, think about each family member and any individual medical needs, and customize the kit accordingly.
In general, your first aid kit should contain the following supplies.
For minor injuries:
- Sterile gloves
- Sterile gauze pads
- Scissors with rounded tips
- Cloth tape
- Assortment of adhesive bandages
- Cleansing liquid
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Burn ointment
- Anti-itch ointment
- Eye washing liquid
- Petroleum jelly
- Instant cold compress
- Roller bandage
- Extra supply of daily prescription medications for all family members
- Prescribed supplies, such as a glucose monitor
- Cough suppressant
- Antihistamine and a decongestant
- Pain relievers, like aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Medication for digestion issues, like antacids and laxatives
Additional items to have:
- First aid instruction manual
- Flashlight with working batteries
- Plastic, non-mercury oral thermometer
- List of emergency phone numbers, including doctors and poison control
- List of family members' allergies and medications
- Supply list of all items in the first aid kit
Simple Ways to Maintain Your First Aid Kit
It is important to update your first aid kit regularly. If a family member begins a new prescription medication, make sure that you add it to the kit. Rotate the over-the-counter and prescription medications in your first aid kit regularly, so that they do not pass their expiration dates. And as you use items in your kit, make sure that you check your supply and restock as needed to keep the kit fully loaded and up-to-date.
Store your first aid kit in a place that is easy to access — but out of the reach of children.
To get the most out of your first aid kit, keep your first aid skills up to par by taking a first aid class, such as the one offered by the Red Cross. If this isn’t possible, make sure you purchase a first aid instruction manual, read it thoroughly, and store it in your first aid kit.
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