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The Joint Commission


What to Keep in Your First Aid Kit

In any emergency, how you respond is key, and we recommend that you be prepared to handle some of the more common medical emergencies by preparing a First Aid Kit for your home and also one for when you travel. There are many pre-packaged kits on the market today that contain many of the basic supplies you should keep on hand, but you will want to include some additional items in order to be prepared for your family's unique needs (for instance, if a baby or toddler lives in the home, or someone who has any life-threatening allergies). Although you may already have some of these items throughout your home in medicine cabinets or drawers, it is always helpful in an emergency to have all of the things you may need close at hand in one container (such as a tote bag) and in a central location, like a main bathroom or the kitchen.

Below you will find a list of recommended items for your First Aid Kit. Be sure to prepare a kit to keep in your vehicle as well for when you leave home. These items can be found in your local pharmacy. Feel free to print this out as a shopping list.

Medication

  • Pain reliever. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin (do not give aspirin to relieve flu symptoms in children). Have 2 aspirin available in case of a heart attack.
  • Cough suppressant.
  • Antihistamine tablets and cream. Relieves allergy symptoms. Cream to be used for topical use only.
  • Decongestant.
  • Calamine lotion. Relieves skin irritation from bug bites and stings as well as poison ivy.
  • Hydrocortisone cream. Relieves skin irritation from rashes.
  • Any medication prescribed for household members with life-threatening allergies (such as bee stings, peanuts, shellfish, etc.).

Injury Care Supplies

  • Bandages. Keep an assortment of sizes and shapes to cover minor cuts and scrapes.
  • Gauze rolls and pads. Use to cover larger cuts and scrapes.
  • Adhesive tape. To secure gauze in place.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. Disinfects and cleans wounds.
  • Antiseptic wipes. Disinfect wounds or clean hands.
  • Antibiotic ointment. Kills germs and speeds healing in minor cuts and scrapes.
  • Elastic wraps. (i.e., Ace bandage) Use to wrap strained or sprained wrists, ankles, knees or elbows.
  • Scissors. Use to cut gauze, wraps or clothing.
  • Tweezers. To remove splinters, bee/wasp stingers, ticks, or foreign objects from cuts or scrapes.

Miscellaneous Supplies

  • Thermometer (use a rectal thermometer for babies younger than a year old).
  • Anti-nausea or motion sickness medication.
  • Sunscreen. SPF 15 or greater.
  • Insect repellent. Should contain no more than 10-15% DEET for children and no more than 20-30% DEET for adults.
  • Rubbing alcohol. To disinfect thermometers, tweezers and scissors.
  • Sterilized cotton balls. Use to clean wounds, thermometers, etc.
  • First-aid manual.

If there are children in the home, include the following in your first aid kit as well:

  • Children's and infants' non-aspirin liquid pain reliever.
  • Nasal aspirator bulb.
  • Oral syringe and/or calibrated cup or spoon for giving medicine.
  • Rehydration fluids to treat infant diarrhea; such as Pedialyte.
  • Syrup of Ipecac (give only if told to do so by Poison Control).


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