A well-stocked first-aid kit can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. Keep at least one first-aid kit in your home and one in your car. Store your kits someplace easy to get to and out of the reach of young children. Make sure children old enough to understand the purpose of the kits know where they're stored.
You can buy first-aid kits at many drugstores or assemble your own. You may want to tailor your kit based on your activities and needs. A first-aid kit might include:
Elastic wrap bandages
Bandage strips and "butterfly" bandages in assorted sizes
Rubber tourniquet or 16 French catheter
Nonstick sterile bandages and roller gauze in assorted sizes
Eye shield or pad
Large triangular bandage (may be used as a sling)
Aluminum finger splint
Instant cold packs
Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
Disposable nonlatex examination gloves, several pairs
Petroleum jelly or other lubricant
Plastic bags, assorted sizes
Safety pins in assorted sizes
Scissors and tweezers
Antiseptic solution and towelettes
Turkey baster or other bulb suction device for flushing wounds
Sterile saline for irrigation, flushing
Breathing barrier (surgical mask)
Syringe, medicine cup or spoon
Hydrogen peroxide to disinfect
Aloe vera gel
Antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine
Cough and cold medications
Personal medications that don't need refrigeration
Auto-injector of epinephrine, if prescribed by your doctor
Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others)
Consider keeping aspirin in your first-aid kit, as well. Aspirin may be life-saving in an adult with chest pain. If you or someone else has new or unexplained chest pain or may be having a heart attack, call for emergency medical help immediately. Then chew a regular-strength aspirin. However, don't take aspirin if you are allergic to aspirin, have bleeding problems or take another blood-thinning medication, or if your doctor previously told you not to do so. Never give aspirin to children.
Emergency phone numbers, including contact information for your family doctor and pediatrician, local emergency services, emergency road service providers, and the poison help line, which in the United States is 800-222-1222.
Medical consent forms for each family member
Medical history forms for each family member
Small, waterproof flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
Small notepad and waterproof writing instrument
Emergency space blanket
Cell phone with solar charger
Give your kit a checkup
Check your first-aid kits regularly to be sure the flashlight batteries work and to replace supplies that have expired or been used up.
Consider taking a first-aid course through the American Red Cross. Contact your local chapter for information on classes.
Prepare children for medical emergencies in age-appropriate ways. The American Red Cross offers a number of helpful resources, including classes designed to help children understand and use first-aid techniques.