What to Keep in a First Aid Kit

Many injuries and sudden illnesses can be cared for without medical attention. For these or for situations requiring medical attention later, it is a good idea to have useful first aid supplies on hand for emergencies.

A first aid kit’s supplies should be customized to include those items likely to be used on a regular basis. For example, a kit for a home will be different than one at a workplace or one found on a boat.

The list below includes nonprescriptive (over-the-counter) medications. Some drug products lose their potency in time, especially after they are opened. Other drugs change in consistency. Buying the large “family size” of a product infrequently used may seem like a bargain, but it is poor economy if the product has to be thrown out before the content are used. Medications have an expiration date.

Warning: Keep all medicines out of the reach of children. Read and follow all directions for properly using medications.

Keep your first aid supplies in either a fishing tackle box or a toolbox. Boxes with an O-ring gasket around the cover are dustproof and waterproof.

First Aid Kit List

General supplies

  • Scissors: regular and bandage (blunt-tip prevents injury while cutting next to skin)
  • EMT shears (cuts through metal, leather, heavy clothing)
  • Tweezers (remove splinters, ticks, small objects from wound)
  • Disposable gloves, non-latex (protection against disease)
  • Mouth-to-barrier device, face mask with 1-way valve or face shield (protection against disease during rescue breathing)
  • Thermometer (measure body temperature)
  • Penlight: battery or disposable
  • Light stick
  • Resealable plastic bags, pint and quart (ice pack, irrigating wound, amputation care)
  • Ice bag (ice pack)
  • Cotton-tipped swabs (remove small objects from eye, to evert eyelid, to apply ointment)
  • SAM splint (stabilizes almost any part of the body)
  • Emergency blanket (protects victim from weather)
  • Safety pins, size 3 (hold bandages in place, improvising slings)

Bandage and Dressing Materials

  • Gauze pads, 2-inch by 2-inch, 3-inch by 3-inch, 4-inch by 4-inch (stop bleeding and cover wound)
  • Non-stick pads, 2-inch by 3-inch, 3-inch by 4-inch
  • Adhesive strip bandages various sizes and materials (cover small wounds)
  • Trauma dressings, 5-inch by 9-inch, 8-inch by 10-inch (cover large wounds)
  • Gauze roller bandages, 1-inch, 2-inch (hold dressings in place)
  • Conforming, self-adhering roller bandages, 2-inch, 3-inch (hold dressings in place)
  • Elastic roller bandages, 2-inch, 3-inch, 4-inch, 6-inch (compression on sprains and strains)
  • Adhesive tape, 1/2-inch or 1-inch (hold dressings in place; secure end of roller bandages)
  • Hypoallergenic paper tape (hold dressings in place; prevents skin reactions)
  • Waterproof tape (hold dressings in place)
  • Knuckle bandages
  • Fingertip strips
  • Eye pads
  • Triangular bandages (arm sling and forms cravat bandages for holding splints in place)
  • Moleskin and molefoam (blister prevention and care)
  • Duct tape, roll (blister prevention, holding splints in place)

Ointments and Topicals

  • Ointments and Topicals
  • Antiseptic towelettes (cleaning skin around wounds and hands)
  • Alcohol prep pads (cleaning skin around wounds)
  • Antibiotic ointment (minor cuts, abrasions, burns)
  • Hydrocortisone cream, 1 percent (skin irritation and itching)
  • Antifungal cream
  • Calamine lotion (anti-itch and drying agent for poison ivy, oak, sumac, and skin rashes)
  • Sting relief swabs (relieve pain from insect bites and stings)
  • Instant ice pack (use when ice is not available)
  • Spenco Second Skin Pads (blister care)
  • Aloe vera gel, 100 percent (minor burns, frostbite)
  • Sun screen (at least SPF 15)
  • Lip balm with sunscreen (protects lips)
  • Insect repellant

Over-the-Counter Internal Medications

  • Aspirin (for pain, swelling, and fever)
  • Ibuprofen (for pain, swelling, and fever)
  • Acetaminophen/paracetamol (for pain)
  • Antihistamine (for allergy)
  • Decongestant, tablets and nasal spray
  • Antidiarrhea, antinausea/vomiting
  • Anticonstipation
  • Anti-motion sickness
  • Glucose gel
  • Activated charcoal, pre-mixed liquid (for swallowed poisoning)

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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