Tip Sheet: What to Keep in Your First Aid Kit

If you are preparing to stock your first aid kit, keep these tips in mind.

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The home first aid kit tends to be the bathroom cabinet. The official ones, such as those recommended by the Red Cross and the Department of Homeland Security, are leaning toward the apocalyptic, containing flares and everything but a gurney and a paper gown.

The American College of Emergency Physicians, supplemented by other lists, recommends you have the following on hand or in your car.

  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin (do not give aspirin to children)
  • Cough syrup
  • Antihistamine such as Benadryl
  • Decongestants
  • An oral medicine syringe for giving medicine to children
  • Syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting, but ONLY if you are acting under instructions from a Poison Control Center
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Heartburn medication
  • Medicine for motion sickness
  • Bandages
    • 2x2 gauze pads
    • 4x4 gauze pads
    • 2-inch elastic wrap
    • rolled gauze
    • adhesive bandages, various sizes
    • cotton swabs
    • bandage closures or safety pins
  • Scissors with rounded tips
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Instant-activating cold packs
  • Instant heat packs

If you are going to the outback far from medical help, ask your doctor about packing some prescription drugs. If anyone is allergic to insect bites, an Epi-Pen is recommended. Again, your doctor can advise you.

If this seems daunting, Richard O'Brien, MD, spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, says there are commercial kits that would hold a family in good stead under average circumstances.

WebMD Feature


Published June 13, 2005.

SOURCES: American College of Emergency Physicians. Richard O'Brien, MD, spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians and emergency physician, Moses Taylor Hospital, Scranton, Pa.

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