If you’re a human being who’s reading this right now and not an android or other artificial life form, chances are that you’re going to get hurt at some point in the not-too-distant future. No, that’s not a threat, but rather a prediction based on the number of people out there who manage to hurt themselves on a daily basis. In fact, as I just finished writing that second sentence, my husband bellowed up from the kitchen to tell me that he’d sliced his hand open on the aluminum foil wrapper on a Toblerone bar.
Case in point.
To deal with the various cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites, rashes, grazes, abrasions, blisters, and other miscellaneous boo-boos that you and your family members might acquire, it’s a good idea to have a solid first aid kit in both your house, and your car. If you don’t have a car, then a miniature version strapped to your bike or kept in your handbag/backpack/manly courier bag can be amazingly handy too.
First Aid Kit Contents:
Disposable Sterile Gloves
If you’re dealing with open wounds, it’s best to take extra precaution not to contaminate them with dirt or bacteria that may be clinging to the undersides of your nails. Keep a couple of packages of sterile non-latex gloves in your first aid kit, and replace them after use.
A Flashlight and Extra Batteries
Just in case you have to help someone in the dark, like during a power outage.
Rubbing Alcohol Swabs
To clean and disinfect wounded areas.
Adhesive Bandages (e.g. Band-Aids)
Whether they’re used to keep a cut clean or to cushion a blister, they’re multi-purpose gems, and it’s important to have a variety of different sizes and styles in your kits.
Sterile Gauze Pads
These are perfect for placing on burns, bad scrapes, or larger cuts that need help clotting.
This is to hold the gauze in place, and can even be cut into strips to hold large cuts together until the injured person can be stitched up at a hospital.
For cutting the aforementioned tape, or cutting a gauze pad into a particular size/shape. They’re also good for cutting away fabric in case of serious injuries, and can come in handy in ways you probably couldn’t dream up right now.
Necessary to remove slivers, bits of gravel, and other nasty bits.
To alleviate itching and swelling from reactions to insect bites and bee stings.
Cloth Bandage and Clips
These are ideal for immobilizing wrist, ankle, and knee injuries, and can also be used as a makeshift sling. It’s of vital importance to familiarize yourself with bandaging techniques for different injuries so that in case you ever need to use them, you’ll know what you’re doing.
Chemical “Instant” Ice Pack
A rather brilliant invention, the “instant” ice pack is a plastic sack that contains chemicals which, when the pack is crushed, will meld together to create a cold effect. Though it’s advisable to always have an ice pack in your freezer, these chemical packs are great for keeping in your car, or at home: you never know when someone will use the freezer pack to keep their lunch cold, so having a backup plan is always good.
In case someone’s running a fever, you can monitor their temperature and determine whether there’s improvement, or extra help needed.
Pain Relief Medication
Ibuprofen is ideal, but acetaminophen is also handy to keep on hand. They do serve different purposes: the former is good for muscle and injury pain and for reducing inflammation, while the latter is better to bring down fevers and alleviate headaches, and is safer for pregnant/nursing women.
In addition to all of these items, every first aid kit should also contain a laminated—or otherwise waterproofed—list of emergency phone numbers, such as local hospitals, primary care physicians, other healthcare workers (naturopaths, chiropractors, therapists), next of kin/emergency contact, family members, and even veterinarian(s) (in case of emergency pet first aid). There should also be a first aid manual on hand in case the caregiver’s mind goes blank under duress.
You may wish to put a reflective blanket in their kit to help treat shock, as well as a bottle of spring water, Gatorade (to help balance electrolytes if the patient is dehydrated), and some energy bars that can be used to boost blood sugar. These are especially important for a car’s first aid kit in case of any accident—your own, or someone else’s that you’re providing assistance for.
When in doubt about something to add to your first aid kit, remember that it’s always better to have something and never need it, then to need it and not have it on hand.