What Should be in a First Aid Kit?

Every home could benefit from compiling a first-aid kit. It is recommended that one is kept in plain view inside your home, and another is kept in the glove box or trunk of every household vehicle. But what should be in your first aid kit?

While ready-made first-aid kits are available at many drug stores and pharmacies, making your own kit can be more cost-effective, and it will be tailor-made to your specific needs. The contents of your first-aid kit will depend on how far you are from a medical facility and your level of medical training. The farther you are from a hospital, the more well-stocked you will want to keep your first-aid kit. The most well-stocked first-aid kits of all should be the ones kept on camping sites or taken on vacation in the family car. Collecting supplies for the kit beforehand will save time and, potentially, an expensive trip to the emergency room.

Choose a container that is light and durable, such as a tackle box or ladies' makeup case. Select a container that is roomy but not too bulky. Ideally, you should be able to see inside of your first-aid kit without having to open it up. It is also important that your first-aid kit container have handles for easy transportation. It is a good idea to write "First-Aid" somewhere on the kit in bold letters.

Items that should be in any first-aid kit include:

Wound Dressings

Creams and Ointments



  • first-aid manual
  • needle and thread
  • tweezers
  • safety pins
  • scissors
  • cold packs
  • thermometer
  • plastic or surgical gloves
  • soap
  • flashlight
  • batteries
  • cigarette lighter (can be used to sterilize instruments or start a fire)
  • pocket CPR mask or mouthpiece (ask your local Red Cross)
  • a weather radio
  • a list of your emergency phone numbers
  • a phone card or coins for a payphone
  • a blanket.

After your first-aid kit is stocked, it is important to read through the first-aid manual to make sure you understand what to do in an emergency. If you have children who are old enough to read, make sure that they read through the manual as well. It is also important that you store the first-aid kit(s) in a place that is hard to reach for children, but easily accessible to adults.

Many items in the first-aid kit will be dangerous or poisonous if swallowed by young children. Traditionally, Ipecac syrup was used as a first-aid measure for a child who has swallowed chemicals contained in a first-aid kit. Recent studies suggest that though ipecac syrup is a good item to stock in your first-aid kit, there is no evidence that it helps a child who has swallowed a toxic substance.

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