In the 1930s, a Seattle organization called the Mountaineers established the Ten Essentials that everyone should bring with them on outdoor adventures. The trusty first aid kit makes that list. A well-supplied first aid kit is also essential for your home and car in case of an emergency.
While you can purchase well-stocked kits at many places, sometimes it’s better to build your own first aid kit. You can tailor the medical supplies to specific activities such as boating, fishing, or camping and basic supplies that go in any standard first aid kit. Whether you buy a premade kit or build one, make sure to check the expiration dates on ointments, medications, and bandages every season. It’s crucial to replace the supplies that have expired so your kit is always up to date.
First Aid Training
The American Red Cross provides basic first aid training to anyone who wants to take classes. The Red Cross training tends to be the same standard classes that first responders such as law enforcement, fire, and rescue must certify in, spo this is quality education and includes hands-on training.
CPR training and certification is usually provided by the American Heart Association. It’s a separate training from basic first aid, but many people take both classes. Trainers in your area often schedule these classes together, or you can take them separately. There are other providers for first aid and CPR training; it’s just that these two organizations represent the common standards recognized by many states.
You can attend classes online, in a classroom setting, or with a combination of both. These options allow people to learn the skills they need to help children or adults, by investing in classes that suit their learning styles. You’ll even receive certification in first aid treatment.
The process only takes a few hours to finish and allows you to deliver first aid to anyone while you wait for first responders to arrive. Certification is good for two years, and you’ll need to renew it. The class for recertification is shorter and tests your knowledge while refreshing your skills.
Training also boosts your confidence because you know how to administer first aid the correct way. You’ll respond to an emergency more efficiently, giving injured people precious seconds that increase the likelihood of their survival in an actual emergency.
First Aid Basics to Include in Your Kit
First, you’ll need to buy a water-resistant pouch to hold all of the medical supplies you plan on buying. A small tackle box makes a great kit if it’s staying in one place. You’ll also want some plastic pill bottles and different sizes of Ziploc bags to store items in, as well as tape and a waterproof marker to label things. Some practical places to keep a first aid kit are:
- Kitchen cabinet
- Bathroom cabinet
Here is a list of supplies that you should include in your first aid kit.
First Aid Supplies for Basic Care
- Antibacterial ointment such as Neosporin
- BZK-based antiseptic wipes (alcohol-based okay as well)
- Bandage adhesive
- Adhesive strips for closing wounds/butterfly bandages
- Assortment of fabric adhesive bandages
- Non-stick sterile pads
- Gauze pads
- Treatment for blisters
- Medical tape, 1-inch wide –10 yards
- Anti-itch treatment
- Pain relief medication
- Fine-pointed tweezers
- Antihistamine for allergic reactions
- First aid cards or manual
- Safety pins
Wound Coverings, Splints, and Wraps
- Liquid bandage
- Elastic wrap
- Hemostatic gauze
- Triangular cravat bandage
- Topical anesthetic and first aid cleansing pads
- Finger splints
- Hydrogel-based pads
- SAM splints
- Rolled bandages that stretch to form
- Rolled gauze
Additional Treatment and Medications
- Aspirin for heart attacks
- Prescription medications such as antibiotics
- Epinephrine injection
- Sunburn relief spray or gel
- Glucose or another type of sugar for low blood sugar
- Throat lozenges
- Oral rehydration salts
- Lubricating eye drops
- Antacid tablets
- Eyewash solution
Supplies and Tools
- Biodegradable soap
- Knife or multi-tool that has a knife
- Hand sanitizer
- Paramedic shears
- Emergency blanket
- Safety razor or scalpel with a #12 or #15 blade
- Medical waste bag and box to hold sharp items
- Cotton swabs
- Notebook with a waterproof pen or pencil that will fit in your kit
- Oral thermometer – standard
- CPR mask
- Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter or turkey baster for flushing wounds
- Surgical gloves, preferably nitrile
The inclusion of instructions or guides that explain how to administer first aid may seem unnecessary, but it could save you from infection or even your life. You can usually purchase these anywhere that sells medical supplies. Make sure to get high-quality cards or guides.
For first aid kits that stay in your vehicle, add one of your old cell phones so you can dial 911 in an emergency. There’s no need to have a service contract because federal law requires that all cell phones must be able to call 911. All you need is enough battery power to turn the phone on.
Supplement your kit with medical supplies specific to your group, activity, or destination and the supplies necessary for longer trips. A satellite messenger or personal locator beacon can help you in a life-threatening emergency. It alerts people to your need for help and conveys your location to the rescue personnel responding.
It’s always a good idea to create a portable first aid kit for disaster preparedness. Keep it with your survival supplies in a duffle bag or backpack so that you can leave quickly if some type of disaster occurs.
It won’t hurt to create multiple first aid kits to place in some of the locations listed above. You can never be too safe when it comes to your health, and you can build your own kits over time if you’re on a budget. If you only have one first aid bag to start with, make sure you don’t forget it in the car or at home. It’s not going to be very useful if it’s not within reach during an emergency.
Do you want to know if you’re prepared for a disaster? Here’s a quiz that tests your knowledge and lets you know if you’re ready.