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When you've got a cut, a scrape, a bite or a burn, a fully stocked first aid kit is a good place to turn. Here's what to keep in yours.

Essentials for your first aid kit. Make yours.
reviewed 1/3/2020

First aid essentials. How to make a kit fit for first aid

When you hurt yourself, you don’t always need to go to the doctor or a hospital. Sometimes all you need is a little first aid. That’s where a first aid kit comes in handy. It contains most of the items you might need to provide basic aid. It’s a good idea to keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and in your car. But what should you keep inside the kit itself?

Here are some essentials for a well-stocked first aid kit.

DRESSINGS AND BANDAGES

  • Gauze roll.
  • Sterile gauze bandages.
  • Eye pad.
  • Adhesive tape roll.
  • Elastic bandage for sprains.
  • Sterile cotton balls and swabs.

OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICINES

  • Pain reliever and fever medicines. (Remember not to use aspirin for kids younger than 18.)
  • Antibiotic ointment.
  • Sterile saline eyewash.
  • Calamine lotion for stings or poison ivy.
  • Hydrocortisone cream, ointment or lotion for itching.
  • Antihistamine for allergic reactions.
  • Nasal decongestant.
  • Anti-nausea medicine to treat motion sickness and other types of nausea.
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine.
  • Antacid for upset stomach.
  • Laxative to treat constipation.
  • Special medicines for members of your household, such as asthma inhalers.

TOOLS

  • Safety pins to fasten splints and bandages.
  • A suction device to flush out wounds.
  • Aluminum finger splint.
  • Syringe and medicine spoon for giving medicine.
  • Thermometer.
  • Tweezers to remove ticks, insect stingers and splinters.
  • Scissors.

PROTECTION

  • Non-latex gloves (size large).
  • A breathing barrier for giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • An emergency blanket.

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Antiseptic wipes.
  • Instant cold compress.
  • First aid manual and list of emergency contacts.

KIT TIPS

Whether you create your first aid kit or buy a pre-made one at the store, keep these tips in mind:

  • Tailor your kit to meet your family’s needs.
  • Check the kit regularly.
  • Replace items as you use them or they expire.
  • Use the kit for minor medical issues—call 911 in an emergency.
  • Consider labeling emergency contacts in your phone, or downloading an ICE (for "in case of emergency") app.

Sources: AARP; American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Red Cross

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