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Preparing for first aid emergencies
Family Health

The First-Aid Kit Checklist to Prepare You for Every Bump and Scrape

Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Having an adequately stocked first-aid kit in your home is an essential part of a good emergency preparedness plan for you and your family. Having supplies collected ahead of time and knowing how to use them can save you from panic, worry, and even life-threatening injuries.

This first-aid kit checklist will help you build a customized kit for your home and your car.

First-Aid Basics

A good first-aid kit contains a comprehensive supply of items required for emergencies. Most items can be found at your local pharmacy or medical supply company.

The following first-aid kit checklist is the minimum required items for an appropriate basic first-aid kit, as recommended by the American Red Cross.

  • Two absorbent, 5x9-inch compress dressings
  • 25 adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • One roll of adhesive cloth tape
  • Five packets of antibiotic ointment (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Five packets of antiseptic wipes
  • Two packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • One space blanket
  • One breathing barrier for CPR
  • One instant cold compress
  • Two pairs of large, nonlatex gloves
  • Two packets of hydrocortisone ointment (1 gram each)
  • One roll of 3-inch bandage
  • One roll of 4-inch bandage
  • Five sterile 3x3-inch gauze pads
  • Five sterile 4x4-inch gauze pads
  • One nonmercury/nonglass oral thermometer
  • Two triangular bandages
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • First-aid instruction booklet

Additionally, your first-aid kit should include a tooth preservation kit, a flashlight and extra batteries, and a list of your emergency contact phone numbers.

Customize Your First-Aid Kit

Once you've gathered your basic first-aid kit items, it's time to customize your kit for at home and on the go. Small first-aid kits can help with immediate treatment to common injuries encountered inside and outside the house. The contents of each kit vary depending on where the kit is stored.

  • Car kits: Always have an accessible car or travel first-aid kit in each vehicle you own. This kit is like the home version, but make it road-ready by adding items like a flashlight with batteries, waterproof matches, a solar charger for phones, sunscreen and insect repellent, a whistle, and emergency contact phone numbers.
  • Outdoor kits: Heading into the great outdoors? Pack a basic first-aid kit and add to it based on your adventure. The size of an outdoor first-aid kit depends on how it's being used and how many people will use it. It resembles a car kit and should be kept in a waterproof box; include items like waterproof matches, safety pins, calamine lotion, butterfly strips, a multi-tool, sunscreen, duct tape, and water purification tablets.
  • Home kit: Every family is different. Be sure you're prepared for any physical ailments that may arise in an emergency. Customize your first-aid kit with family medications — keep them in small, clearly marked containers with instructions so that a visitor could aid in the event of an emergency. Additionally, keep a small stock of personalized medical supplies like a bee sting kit, calamine lotion, non-aspirin pain reliever, antidiarrhea medication, antacid, syrup of ipecac and activated charcoal, laxatives, and splints.
  • Special kits: Does someone in your family have special medical needs? Prepare home and travel kits marked and specifically designed to treat these special medical needs. For example, an anaphylaxis emergency kit can aid in the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction and may include items like antihistamines, prescription medications, and EpiPens. A diabetes survival kit might contain a spare blood glucose meter, testing supplies, extra insulin pump infusion sets, fast-acting glucose tablets, and a list of emergency phone numbers.

Storing Your First-Aid Kit

The storage container that holds your first-aid kit is just as important as the contents. Two popular types of containers for first-aid kits are plastic tackle boxes and backpack-style bags. These are durable and portable enough to be used inside and outside the home. Remember to store first-aid kits out of children's reach, check the kits regularly, and always keep your kits complete and up-to-date.

Accidents can happen at any time — at home and away. With this first-aid kit checklist, you can be prepared for every situation to keep you and your family safe and healthy should an emergency arise.

Posted in Family Health

Christina Bhattacharya is a freelance journalist, creative writer, and content marketer living in California. She has been involved in the health and fitness field since 1999. Christina holds an A.S. in physical therapy from the Community College of the Air Force, a B.A. in technical communications from University of Maryland University College, and a M.S. in health management from Lindenwood University. She also maintains various health, fitness, and management certifications.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.