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First Aid & Emergencies

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First Aid Kits

Must-Have First Aid Kit Essentials


You can buy all items for your first aid kits at a well-stocked drug store. Ask the pharmacist for help in selecting items.

Home kit:

A household first aid kit should include these items:

  • Adhesive tape
  • Anesthetic spray (Bactine) or lotion (Calamine, Campho-Phenique) -- for itching rashes and insect bites
  • 4" x 4" sterile gauze pads -- for covering and cleaning wounds, as a soft eye patch
  • 2", 3", and 4" Ace bandages -- for wrapping sprained or strained joints, for wrapping gauze on to wounds, for wrapping on splints
  • Adhesive bandages (all sizes)
  • Oral antihistamines -- diphenhydramine (Benadryl causes drowsiness) or loratadine (Claritin doesn't cause drowsiness) -- for allergic reactions, itching rashes (Avoid topical antihistamine creams because they may worsen the rash in some people.)
  • Topical corticosteroids, such as over the counter Hydrocortisone 1% for rashes
  • Aloe vera topical gel or cream for burn relief
  • Exam gloves -- for infection protection, also to make into ice packs when filled with water and frozen
  • Polysporin antibiotic cream -- to apply to simple wounds
  • Nonadhesive pads (Telfa) -- for covering wounds and burns
  • Pocket mask for CPR
  • Resealable oven bag -- as a container for contaminated articles, can become an ice pack
  • Safety pins (large and small) -- for splinter removal and for securing triangular bandage sling
  • Scissors
  • Triangular bandage -- as a sling, towel, tourniquet
  • Tweezers -- for splinter or stinger or tick removal

Travel First Aid Kit Essentials


Travel kit:

A travel first aid kit may contain these items:

  • Adhesive tape
  • 4" x 4" sterile gauze pads
  • Antacid -- for indigestion
  • Antidiarrheal (Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, for example)
  • Antihistamine cream
  • Antiseptic agent (small bottle liquid soap) -- for cleaning wounds and hands
  • Aspirin -- for mild pain, heart attack
  • Adhesive bandages (all sizes)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin) -- oral antihistamine
  • Topical corticosteroids, such as over the counter Hydrocortisone 1% for rashes
  • Aloe vera topical gel or cream for burn relief
  • Book on first aid
  • Cigarette lighter -- to sterilize instruments and to be able to start a fire in the wilderness (to keep warm and to make smoke to signal for help, for examples)
  • Cough medication
  • Dental kit -- for broken teeth, loss of crown or filling
  • Exam gloves
  • Small flashlight
  • Ibuprofen (Advil is one brand name)
  • Insect repellant
  • Knife (small Swiss Army-type)
  • Moleskin -- to apply to blisters or hot spots
  • Nasal spray decongestant -- for nasal congestion from colds or allergies
  • Nonadhesive wound pads (Telfa)
  • Polysporin antibiotic ointment
  • Oral decongestant
  • Personal medications and items
  • Phone card with at least 60 minutes of time (and not a close expiration date) plus at least 10 quarters for pay phones and a list of important people to reach in an emergency
  • Plastic resealable bags (oven and sandwich)
  • Pocket mask for CPR
  • Safety pins (large and small)
  • Scissors
  • Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on February 02, 2016
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