The Pulse

The Definitive List of First-Aid Kit Supplies

Posted by SFSH on October 07, 2019

Whether you’re off-roading in the mountains, going on a family trip to the beach or prepping for the winter, having a well-stocked first-aid kit can be extraordinarily useful. Regardless of your situation, complications or possible hazards can strike at any time. A first-aid kit should be included in any packing list. But what should your kit include? And how thorough should you get with your kit?

If you want to tackle medical threats head on, here’s what you should pack in your first-aid kit and why.

Cuts & Scrapes

From a minor trip on the sidewalk to pruning your roses too quickly, cuts and scrapes are part of our everyday lives no matter how careful we are. In order to avoid unnecessary infections, first aid should be quickly applied to cuts.

It’s important to thoroughly clean wounds before applying any bandages. Make sure you keep disinfectant in your first-aid kit. Over-the-counter antibiotics can help keep your skin moist and halt infections. While applying disinfectant, always make sure your hands are clean or covered. Medical gloves are also a good item to keep on hand.

Some minor cuts and scrapes usually stop bleeding on their own. For the cases that wounds don’t stop bleeding, make sure you keep bandages and gauze handy. Use clean bandages or gauze to tightly secure wounds. This will stop any additional bleeding as well as keep the wound protected from bacteria or debris. Super glue, also known as skin glue or surgical glue, is another utensil you should include in your first-aid kit. The adhesive is recommended for sealing minor cuts like knife cuts or paper cuts.

Quick Tip: Stitches are usually needed for cuts longer than half an inch.  

Pack These Items:

  • Bandages and gauze
  • Medical gloves
  • Disinfectant
  • Antibiotics
  • Super glue

Breaks & Fractures

Our body’s bones are extremely strong. In fact, ounce for ounce, bone is stronger than steel. Bone strength may vary due to people’s diets, ages and lifestyles. But some bones are easier to break than others. If you’re in a broken-bone situation, be prepared with the following items.

 

Cold packs are useful for any first-aid kit. Applying a cold pack will limit swelling or inflammation around bone fractures. This may also relieve pain around the area. Make sure your cold pack has a sleeve or is wrapped in a towel when you apply it directly to the skin. It’s also important to keep the pack mobile in order to avoid frostbite. Never keep it in one place for more than a few minutes at a time.

 

Suspected fractures should be splinted or immobilized. An effective splint can help stop further bone damage and offer pain relief. Be sure to learn the proper ways to splint different types of fractures in order to most effectively help yourself or your patient. You can use gauze or bandages to wrap the splint to the fracture. When applying the splint, it’s important to secure it to the fracture without cutting off blood circulation.

 

Slings work well to help immobilize broken bones. Compared to splints, slings may be more effective for short-term stabilization. Slings may be more quickly applied and can be more comfortable for the patient, also. Again, be sure to learn how to properly make and use a sling before dealing with fractures.

 

Pack These Items:

  • Cold pack
  • Splint
  • Sling

 

You can learn more about fractures and prevention here.

Stings & Bites

If you’ve ever spent time outdoors in nature, you probably know that you’re susceptible to whatever bugs or insects live in the area. Luckily, most bug stings and bites can be safely treated on site. For itching bites and stings, use an over-the-counter anti-itch cream like hydrocortisone.

Aloe vera gel is a cheap, effective, natural product to keep on hand. It’s perfect for treating inflammation. Because it increases the availability of oxygen and collagen in wounds, aloe vera is known for speeding up healing.

Although most bug bites are harmless, there are some bugs that can spread dangerous diseases, such as Zika virus, Lyme disease, malaria and West Nile virus. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing and use insect repellent when dealing with the outdoors.

Pack These Items:

  • Anti-itch cream
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Insect repellent

Aches & Pains

First aid doesn’t stop after covering up wounds or applying ice. Any first-aid kit will benefit by including pain relievers. Pain relief should be a top priority in any case of injury.

Be sure to keep over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, and/or anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, in your kit. Drugs expire, so make sure you check dates regularly. Specific pain relievers have their own strengths and weaknesses, so diagnose accurately before distributing pain relievers.

After relieving pain, injured people may become calmer or more comfortable. This will help when trying to assess the situation and can be an indication that the treatment is working. If the pain is severe or growing worse, it’s best to seek professional medical help.

Pack These Items:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen

Bonus Tip:  Include cough or cold medicine for lengthier trips in case illness arises.  

Allergic Reaction

Regardless of the activity in which you’re participating, allergens are often nearby. Various types of food, animal dander, plants and pollen can all cause mild to severe allergic reactions in certain people. Most reactions occur soon after initial exposure. Having allergy medicine nearby could be lifesaving.

If you or someone you know is prescribed an epinephrine autoinjector, commonly known as an EpiPen, include one in your first-aid kit. In case of an allergic reaction, identify the allergen, remove it from the scene and use your EpiPen swiftly. The shot can open airways and increase your heart rate.

Another great item that should be kept in first-aid kits is an oral antihistamine. These can also help with allergic reactions, itching and rashes.

Pack These Items:

  • EpiPen
  • Antihistamine

Miscellaneous

Other items to consider keeping in your first-aid kit include:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • First-aid manual
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Duct tape
  • Matches
  • Bug repellant
  • Sunblock

First-aid kits are meant to tackle any immediate medical threat that arises, but, for them to be effective, it’s important to be aware of all potential injures and risks. With the first-aid list above, you should be thoroughly prepared for the common risks mentioned. Make the most of your first-aid kit whenever emergencies strike.

As always, seek professional medical help if you are facing a non-life-threatening injury or illness for which you aren’t prepared.

Contact Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital (SFSH) Urgent Care at 605-250-4995. Located at 85th Street & Minnesota Avenue, SFSH Urgent Care is open seven days a week for your convenience. 

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