What’s one thing that can happen to you at home, at work, in your car or really anywhere, no matter what you’re doing? The answer is, you can hurt yourself. That’s why it’s important to always have access to a well-stocked first aid kit – not just for yourself, but for your friends, family, and even strangers. (Come on. Be the Good Samaritan and offer him a Band-Aid.) Here is what you need to do to assemble your kit.
The first thing you’ll need, no matter what type of kit you’re making, is a good, sturdy box or bag to store it in. Make sure that this container is heat and water resistant. (There is really no good use for wet or melted bandages.) Also, make sure it is small enough to be easily transported to where you’ll need to use it, yet big enough to hold all of the supplies you’ll need. And make sure it seals, so items aren’t falling out as you rush with it down the hallway.
Note: If the kit is for the home or office, it is okay to store the supplies in a clean and dry cabinet instead. Just make sure it is accessible everyone knows where it is.
First aid kits for your home and office
In the home or office, the most common injuries are most likely burns, cuts, bruises and scrapes. For this reason, you will need a good supply of adhesive bandages of various sizes, including some for elbows, knees and fingertips. You can just toss them in the kit loose or keep them in a metal or plastic bandage box so that it is a bit more organized.
To go with your bandages, you’ll want to include first aid cream (like Neosporin); burn cream or aloe, gauze (along with scissors and first aid tape to attach it) and antiseptic wipes to clean wounds before covering them.
Of course, when you cut yourself, it is usually pretty painful, so some other materials you will want on hand are pain relieving medications, such as acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen. It’s best to have all three on hand because some people have allergies or are taking certain medications which restrict them from taking one or the other. It’s also important to add allergy pills, like Benadryl, to your kit, in case someone has a bad reaction to a bite or sting. How much medication do you need? Well, at least two or three doses of each, more if you want to restock the kit less often.
Also helpful to have in your first aid kit are cotton swabs, cooling pads for bruises and strains, tweezers to remove splinters, a thermometer for fevers, and iodine or rubbing alcohol in a small bottle to sanitize just about everything. You may also want to include hand sanitizer and rubber gloves, especially if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.
While this may seem like way too much stuff to fit in a smaller sized box or bag, you’ll be surprised at how compact most of these items are. For example, bandages and gauze can be squashed up pretty tight. If you’re having trouble fitting everything, don’t leave any one item out. Instead just reduce the quantity of each item. (If you can’t even fit one of each item, you need to invest in a bigger container.) Just be sure to check the kit at least weekly to ensure that it is always fully stocked. If it’s out of just one item, it’s sure to be the one you happen to need at that moment.
A good way to make sure you don’t run out of anything is to simply keep a pen and notepad in your kit. If you notice there are two or fewer left of an item, write it down. Then when you do your weekly check, you can add this item to your shopping list. Of course this works better if everyone else follows suit.
Note: Make sure your first aid kit also contains emergency phone numbers. Sure, everyone knows to call 911. (If someone doesn’t, teach him immediately.) But you may want to include contact information for the poison control center, your primary care physician (especially in a home kit) and the local police and fire numbers.
First aid kits for the car
Your first aid kit for your car will be a bit bigger than the one for the home or office. Since you won’t have the luxury of a building full of supplies if you have an emergency on the road, you will need some additional items in this kit.
These items you will need include a flashlight and an extra set of batteries, one or more blankets in case you get stranded in cold weather (space blankets are best as they are warm and take up little room), two or more gallons of water, jumper cables, a road flare or signaling flag, and Fix-A-Flat or a similar flat tire repairing substance.
You should also include anything else you think you’ll need if you or a family member is stranded on the road in a remote area for a couple hours or more. (Sure, this is not likely to happen, but this kit is for the occasion of just such an emergency.) Some ideas of what to include are diapers, small amounts of prescription medication, contact lens solution and nonperishable snacks, such as granola bars.
Don’t forget that your car first aid kit should contain all of the contents of your home or office first aid kit as well. No good having jumper cables but not having bandages.
Note: Since some of these items are bulky, feel free to use more than one container or leave a couple items, such as the gallons of water, out of the main container, as long as they are in the trunk.
A note for the organizationally challenged
Don’t have enough patience or time to get your first aid kit organized? You can always purchase a pre-made home first aid at the nearest drug store and then get a car kit at the auto supply store. But make sure to add anything you’ll need that is specific to your family, such as prescription medications. And remember, even if you start out with a fully stocked kit, you are still in charge of replacing the items once you use them.