How to Assemble a First Aid Kit

What Should Be in a First Aid

If you look at the contents of any number of first aid kits, one thing that will become apparent is the differing inventories of items that each of them contains. This can often make it difficult to decide which one to purchase, as there seems to be no definitive list that you can check to ensure the first aid kit you are buying contains everything that you may need.

While this article will not settle the matter and given that even medical professionals have differing views on what a first aid kit should contain, we’ll at least outline the essential items that any decent first aid kit should have.

The injuries which you can treat using a first aid kit tend to be mostly minor ones, although many first aid kits have equipment which can be used to deal with more serious injuries, which we will come to later. Whether the injury is minor or serious, one of the primary objectives is to ensure that the risk of infection for the patient and the first aider, is minimized.

To achieve this a pair of sterile disposable gloves should be provided in the kit, along with a pair of tweezers, which can be used to handle small items. Ideally, you want the tweezers to be made of stainless steel, as should the pair of scissors, which is another essential item.

The most common injuries you will treat are cuts and grazes, where the skin has been broken, and some bleeding may have occurred. Obviously, you want to clean these wounds, so your first kit needs to have sterile wipes to do this. These will contain antiseptic, and you might also have some which are iodine based. Other useful items that help with cleaning wounds are cotton-tip applicators and wipes to clean tools such as tweezers are also important.

Once any wound has been cleaned, it needs to be dressed, and here is where you find the greatest degree of diversity. Dressings and bandages come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, which can often lead to some confusion in terms of which one to use. However, if you can dress the wound properly so that it is protected, the bandage you use is not necessarily that important.

Any decent first aid kit will include gauze pads, and occasionally these will contain an antiseptic. To cover the gauze pad, there may be small dressings you can secure with medical tape, or more commonly there are adhesive bandages. For smaller cuts, a simple band aid will suffice which all first aid kits normally have.

Outdoor activities such as camping, or hiking are great fun, but they also attract their fair share of accidents. Insect stings and bites happen frequently, so if you are taking a first aid kit with you ensure it has sting pads. These are designed to reduce the inflammation from a sting and limit the pain.

Of course, not all cuts are minor, and you may have to deal with a situation where someone has a serious wound, which is causing significant blood loss. To deal with this the primary objective to stem the blood flow, and within your first aid kit, there should be items to achieve this.

The first is a tourniquet, which usually comes in the form of an adjustable strap. They are normally used to stop bleeding from limbs and work by being wrapped around the injured limb and tightened. This pressure reduces the blood flow and in turn, decreases the amount of blood being lost.

Another item your kit should have is a trauma or abdominal pad as they are sometimes called. These are very absorbent and used to treat serious wounds around the torso. They are placed on the area which is losing blood to help stem the loss and keep it clean.

There are injuries which can occur where there is no loss of blood, although they are no less painful when they happen. These are injuries such as sprained ankles, twisted wrists, and pulled muscles, to name but a few. These normally come as a result of trips and falls, although there is no limit to how they can occur.

Impact injuries often lead to severe swelling, and of course a great deal of pain. One of the items you’ll want your first aid kit to have is a cold or ice pack. This is placed on the injury and helps minimize swelling, pain, and reduce inflammation.

For injuries to the leg, the objective should be to wrap a bandage around the affected area, to immobilize it enough so that no more damage is done to it. You also want to provide it with a degree of support, and for this, your first aid kit should have non-adhesive bandages called PBT bandages. These are elasticated, so they can be stretched while being applied.

These PBT bandages can also be used to wrap areas of the arm such as the wrist and elbow, although there is another bandage which can help. This is a triangular bandage which can be made into a sling and held in place with safety pins.

The final item which is classed as essential is one which you’ll hope you never need to use, but which if you do, could save someone’s life. This item is a CPR mask. Obviously, if you have to administer CPR it means the patient’s heart, breathing or both have stopped.

To administer rescue breaths, or ‘kiss of life,’ you use the mask and breathe into the other person’s mouth. The whole point of the mask is to protect both you and your patient from the transfer of fluids or germs. In the extreme, the patient may vomit or cough blood, although more likely is the transfer of small drops of saliva. This is not desirable, in either direction so the mask is vitally important.

In summary, the list of essentials for your first aid kit should be gloves, scissors, tweezers, safety pins, dressings, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, sting pads, band aids, medical tape, cotton wool sticks, adhesive bandages, PBT bandages, triangular bandage, trauma pad, tourniquet, cold pack, and CPR mask.

Not a huge list, but a very important one, which you need to refer to and ensure that the first aid kit you purchase has all these items. If it does, then it will enable you to administer first aid correctly should the need ever arise.

Assemble a First Aid Kit

It’s one of the most important items in your house. Do you have yours ready? Unfortunately—because it’s only used sporadically—many of us neglect to get one: a first aid kit.

Today I want to tell you how to assemble a first aid kit so you won’t have any further excuses. Perhaps you don’t even have to go to the store to start yours.

Don’t let tomorrow’s health scare or medical emergency get the better of you. You can become prepared within minutes.

The container is crucial

I know you already own some items for first aid. Why do I want you to take your medical supplies out of your cupboard and place it in a kit? Because I bet you these items are spread all over your house.

In an emergency no one has the time to run around looking for items. Assemble it all in one place in a proper container which is:

  • Waterproof to ward off damage
  • Durable to protect items even if it falls
  • Clearly marked

I’ve found a sturdy plastic container or a padded backpack works best. What in your home will work best? There’s no need to spend money on this part.

What’s inside?

We don’t realize that a few items can mean life and death to someone. What I’m going to ask of you is to think outside the box. Many of these items can serve more than one purpose. It’s up to you—when disaster strikes—to identify the possibilities.

General first aid items

  • Gauze: Clean or dress wounds with this
  • Medical tape: Fix bandages in place or keep splints from moving. This is handy in many procedures
  • Bandages: Use these as slings or to clean wounds if you’ve run out
  • Thermometer: This is more suited for households with small children, but it can double as a splint
  • Splint: These are usually appropriate for fingers. If you need a larger one, look around you. Many household items can serve you well
  • Scissors: Cut bandages but also cut away clothing if it affects someone’s health
  • CPR mask: Learn how to use this one before any emergency happens
  • Pain killers: Only for emergencies if you know it won’t hinder hospital procedures
  • Cleaning agents: Limit wasting time to get water from the tap. Alcohol prep wipes and saline solution can clean cuts and disinfect skin. Saline also helps clean eyes
  • Gloves: Always use them for hygienic purposes

Finish off by adding a booklet on how to use a first aid kit and its items. What if the most knowledgeable person is incapacitated? Make sure anyone else can still come to the rescue.

Always customize

You know what your family’s unique needs are. What will they require if something goes wrong?

Add prescribed medicine in case someone loses their usual stock.

What allergies do family members suffer from? Add appropriate medicine to manage an emergency until you get to a doctor.

Small children require unique items such as medicine droppers. They’re also more likely to fall violently ill after stomach problems. Do you have rehydration solution to counter the effects?

What else is distinctive about your family? Make sure your kit contains what you’ll need to manage an emergency. Update the contents regularly to replace expired medicine and align it with your current needs.

Where will you keep it?

This is the last thought of this article, but actually the most important aspect of your first aid kit. You can know how to assemble a first aid kit, but if it’s not available when needed, your work is for nothing.

Where will everyone have access to the kit without it becoming a hazard? Remember, you’re keeping medicine and chemicals inside. It must be:

  • In a secure cupboard where no pets can reach it
  • At a height, older children can reach it, but not small kids
  • Labelled clearly

You should tell small kids where it is. If they’re the ones that need to show an adult where it is, you’ll help them be the heroes of the day.

Because that’s what it’s about. A small thing such as a properly assembled first aid kit turns ordinary humans into heroes. Will you enable your family—or employees—to play the role when it’s necessary? Get your kit ready today so the next emergency can be aptly dealt with.

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About The Author

Sara Matthews

Known to her friends and colleagues as Beth, Sara Elizabeth Matthews works as a medical assistant in a local clinic in Louisiana. She spends her nights writing articles about her experiences to provide some helpful tips. Beth is very outgoing and loves to take her children camping during the weekend.

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