Posted on July 29, 2022

How to Build a First Aid Kit

Woman removing a first aid kit from a kitchen cabinet

A first aid kit can be useful to have available for common injuries as well as for more severe situations like natural disasters. While ready-made kits are available for purchase, it doesn’t take much effort to build your own kit specific to you and your family’s needs. Here’s what you need to know about building and maintaining a first aid kit for your home.

Do I Need to Make a First Aid Kit?

First aid kids make it much easier to locate medical supplies when needed. All homes should have a first aid kit in an easily accessible location, and all family members should know how to access and use the items inside. Additionally, you may want to consider adding smaller, specialized first aid kits in convenient locations such as work desks, vehicles, or garage workshops.

Why a First Aid Kit is Helpful for Common Injuries

A first aid kit is convenient to have on hand for everyday injuries. By collecting medical supplies in one convenient location, you’ll be able to address injuries more quickly in the event of an accident. Additionally, keeping supplies together makes it easier to track inventory to ensure you’re always fully stocked.

How a First Aid Kit Can Help During an Emergency

If you have an emergency preparedness plan, a first aid kit is likely already in your inventory. By having all of your first aid supplies in one location, you’ll be better prepared for most emergencies. Having all of your supplies in one location ensures that you do not overlook necessities during a stressful situation. A disaster supply kit can also be easily grabbed and taken with you in the event of an unexpected evacuation or a similar scenario.

What to Include in a First Aid Kit

Your first aid kit may not be the same as first aid kits made by others, and that’s okay. Each person or family will likely require different items. However, organizations such as the American Red Cross offer general recommendations for supplies that can be useful in any family’s first aid kit.

General First Aid Supplies

General items to keep in your first aid kit include materials to treat common injuries you may experience in and around your home. These items are usually easy to source and relatively inexpensive to keep on hand.

General first aid supplies worth keeping on hand include:

  • Bandages and sterile gauze for light bleeding and wound coverage
  • Adhesive bandage tape for securing bandages
  • Bandage rolls for securing wound dressings in place if necessary
  • Bandage scissors to properly size bandages
  • Alcohol wipes and hydrogen peroxide for cleaning cuts and abrasions
  • Hydrocortisone cream to treat various skin conditions
  • Antibiotic ointment to protect open wounds from infection
  • Tweezers for removing splinters, glass shards, or similar scenarios
  • Instant hot and cold packs for swelling and/or pain relief
  • A Thermometer for tracking body temperature

Medicines to Keep in a First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is a great place to store medicines you frequently need to manage or treat the side effects of an injury or illness. Like with the general first aid supplies listed above, most of these items are easy to source and store.

Medicines you should keep in your first aid kit include:

  • Acetaminophen tablets for fever and pain reduction
  • Ibuprofen for pain and swelling associated with inflammation
  • Antihistamine medicines for allergy reactions
  • Antacids and other stomach relief medicines
  • Lozenges for sore throats and coughs
  • Cold and flu medicines
  • Prescription medications for anyone in the house

Items You Should Consider Adding to a First Aid Kit

In addition to everyday medicines and supplies you will need in your first aid kit, you may wish to add various other helpful items based on your space or specific needs. If the following items won’t fit inside your first aid kit, consider storing them in an easily accessible location near your kit.

Additional first aid kit items include:

  • Water and non-perishable food items that are easy to prepare
  • Emergency space blankets to trap body heat
  • A battery-operated radio to stay informed on weather and news updates during a power outage
  • A flashlight and/or small lanterns to provide a light source during nighttime power outages
  • A first aid guide to reference when needed
  • Items specific to your life:
    • Baby items like extra formula, diapers, and wipes
    • Important family documents
    • Feminine and personal hygiene supplies
    • Pet food and water
    • Prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, and contact solution

How to Maintain Your First Aid Kit

Maintaining a first aid kit doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when most items either do not expire or have a long shelf life. However, you will want to do your best to ensure your kit is properly stored and items with expiration dates are regularly replaced with new items.

How to Store Your First Aid Kit

First aid kits should be stored in a location known by everyone in the home. This may be a bathroom cabinet, kitchen cupboard, or another easily accessible area. One thing to note, however, is that the kit will need to be properly secured if small children are in the home to ensure safety.

When to Update Your First Aid Kit

First aid kits do not need to be updated frequently. The primary reason for updating a kit will be to replace expired items as needed. These timeframes will depend on the specific contents of your kit.

In addition to replacing expired items, you will also want to consider updating your kit when your family’s needs change. If you move homes, you may find you have more or less space to include items. If family members leave the home, their prescriptions will no longer need to be retained. If you have pets or children, their needs may change and require removal or replacement of items within the kit.

Maintenance of your first aid kit can occur as needed, but you may want to schedule periodic reviews of your inventory to ensure all supplies are up to date. This way, you will always be more likely to have the items you need at the time you need them.

Find a Care Provider for Your Health Needs

It’s great for everyone to have basic first aid knowledge, but nothing beats the quality of care provided by a trained medical professional. If you’re looking for a healthcare provider for you and your family, trust the Primary Care & Wellness Center at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa. Our doctors accept patients of all ages.

At PCI, we’re here when you need us most. You can get care now as a walk-in or via a scheduled appointment to meet your needs. Let us show you why we're ranked in the top 10 percent nationally for patient satisfaction.

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