Everyone should have a first aid kit in their home, car, or travel bag. You never know when an emergency may strike. Whether you buy a pre-made first aid kit or decide to put together one yourself, there are some things that should always be present.
A first aid kit should include a guide on how to use everything inside, bandages of different shapes and sizes, tape, gloves, ways to clean a wound, medications for pain and rashes, and basic medical tools.
If you’re building your own first aid kit, personal items are important. But don’t overlook the essentials while you’re gathering your supplies. Let’s take a look at the 10 best items to include in a first aid kit.
10 Items You Should Have in Your First Aid Kit
When looking at pre-made first aid kits or picking out things to put in your own kit, make sure to check that it includes all 10 of these items. They may seem basic but that doesn’t make them any less important. In fact, they’re the most important things you can keep with you in case something happens.
1. A First Aid Guide
There might be a situation where you aren’t sure what to do or how to handle it. A first aid guide gives you quick access to all the information you need for emergencies. Everything from bug bites to burns to CPR and poisoning is at your fingertips so you don’t have to make guesses when it counts the most.
And sure, you could just Google it, but do you really want to take that chance?
2. Adhesive Bandages
Minor cuts and scrapes are the most common injuries you’ll experience in your life. Anyone with kids can tell you that Band-aids are a lifesaver. That’s why it’s recommended that you have at least 25 bandages of all shapes and sizes in your first aid kit.
Even if you already have bandages somewhere in your house, you still need to keep some in your first aid kit. Just think of it as an emergency backup supply. You’ll always know where they are when you’re in a hurry.
3. Elastic Bandages
Elastic bandages won’t cover a small cut but they are incredibly helpful when someone sustains a larger injury. Ace bandages, for example, can be used to wrap joints that get strained, hold gauze in place against a large wound, or wrap splints.
You can get these bandages in different sizes such as 2”, 3”, or 4” but just make sure you have at least one in your kit.
4. Gauze Pads
Gauze pads are used to clean and cover wounds to keep out dirt and debris. Larger scrapes, burns, and cuts can’t be taken care of with simple Band-aids. You’ll need gauze and a way to secure it to make sure they’re properly taken care of.
Stock at least 5 gauze pads that are 4”x4” in size. If you want to be extra prepared, throw a couple of 3”x3” ones in there as well.
5. Adhesive Medical Tape
Adhesive tape is cloth tape that will stick to the body without restricting movement. It’s used to hold down gauze and other dressings to make sure there’s plenty of pressure applied to a wound. It’s also easy and painless to remove when dressings need to be changed.
One roll is plenty for a standard first aid kit. Just make sure to replace it if it starts running low.
6. Antibiotic Ointment and Antiseptic Wipes
Keeping cuts, scrapes, and other wounds clean is essential in first aid. In order to prevent infection, make sure you have a tube of antibiotic ointment or at least 5 packets of ointment, 5 antiseptic wipes, and some antiseptic solution such as hydrogen peroxide.
These items will ensure an injury is clean before you bandage it up.
7. Sterile Gloves
Gloves may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a first aid kit but they are a vital item to have on hand when someone gets hurt. Even if you think your hands are clean, putting on gloves before attending to someone is an extra step to prevent infection.
Plus, if you don’t have an ice pack on hand, you can fill a glove with ice or water and freeze it to make a quick one.
8. Pain Reliever and Antihistamine
Emergencies more often than not include some kind of pain. Keeping a couple of packets of aspirin in your first aid kit is an easy way to provide some relief. An antihistamine like Benadryl is also incredibly useful in the event of rashes or allergic reactions to reduce swelling and itching.
A topical antihistamine is an option, however, they can often worsen rashes.
9. Instant Heat and Cold Packs
Bumping your head or falling down can happen just about anywhere. If you don’t have access to a freezer or a microwave, these instant packs will come in a lot of handy. All you have to do is squeeze to activate and you will have a quick compress to apply to your injury.
An instant heat or cold pack will last for around 15 or 20 minutes and can provide relief, reduce swelling, and prevent significant bruising.
10. Basic Medical Tools
Tools are just as important in your first aid kit as any other supplies. A few basic tools can make tending to someone who’s hurt so much easier. Here are some items to stock in your first aid kit:
- Oral Thermometer
- Toenail Clippers
- Safety Razor or Scalpel
- Cotton Swabs
- CPR Mask
- Emergency Blankets
Personalize Your First Aid Kit
Everyone has different needs in their day-to-day lives. You may require something specific in an emergency that another person wouldn’t even think about. Whether you bought your first aid kit or you’re creating it from scratch, you should always add personalized items to it that could come in handy for you and your family.
Personal items you may need to add include:
- Prescription Medication
- Spare Glasses
- Anti-Diharreal Medicine
- Rehydration Salts
- Pet Supplies
- Phone Charger
It’s also important to create your first aid kit with your environment in mind. If it’s going to be in your home, you may not need quite as many things. But if you’re going out on a hike in the wilderness, you’ll need to pack for more situations.
Survival first aid kits will need to contain extra items such as:
- Syringe and Irrigation Cap
- Biodegradable Soap
- Butterfly Closure Strips
- Triangular Bandages
The best first aid kit is one that’s personalized to your needs and situation. While you can’t predict an emergency, you know what you require to function better than anyone else. Those are the things that are perfect for your first aid kit.
Regularly Update Your First Aid Kit
It’s not enough to simply put together a first aid kit and throw it on a shelf. If you don’t use it for a while, there’s a good chance the stuff you packed in there won’t be good anymore. In that case, your first aid kit can no longer do its job if an emergency arises.
Make it a habit to check your first aid kit every once in a while to ensure nothing has expired. Replace anything that has.
One of the best ways to keep your first aid kit up to date is to keep a list of items inside and when they expire. You can also write down what you use or what needs replacing so you don’t forget to buy more next time you go shopping.
Ensuring your first aid kit is fully stocked and fully functional means you won’t have to worry about having what you need when it comes time to use it.
Make Your First Aid Kit Grab and Go
The bag you keep your first aid kit in is just as important as what’s inside it. You could always keep your supplies on a shelf in a closet but when someone gets hurt it’s unlikely they’ll be close enough that you can help them right next to where you keep your supplies.
You don’t need a fancy bag to keep your first aid kit in. Any bag with a zipper will do, even a makeup bag. Something with pockets inside to separate your supplies is ideal to make everything easier to find. Or you can use resealable bags to keep things organized.
If you’re planning to take your first aid kit on the go, consider investing in a case that’s both waterproof and drop-proof to keep the contents safe from the elements or any accidents.
Learn Practical Skills
On top of keeping a fully stocked first aid kit where you can easily access it, practical skills are an invaluable part of keeping yourself and the people around you safe in an emergency situation.
Consider taking classes to learn how to properly perform CPR, use an automatic external defibrillator, apply tourniquets to control bleeding, and handle seizures.
First responders aren’t usually the first people on the scene of an emergency. Friends, family, and random bystanders are generally the ones that take care of someone that’s been injured. Knowing how to take action in that sort of situation can make someone more comfortable or even save their lives while first responders are on their way.
Accidents can happen anywhere at any time. Keeping a first aid kit in your home, in your car, or on your person while you’re traveling can make all the difference in these situations.