What You Should Have in Your First-Aid Kit

What You Should Have in Your First-Aid Kit

Nobody plans on needing to administer first-aid, at least not in the typical setting of everyday life, but it’s always a good idea to have a carefully stocked first aid kit on hand should the need arise. Keep one in a specific place that’s easy to access in your home. The kitchen is a good place for it, as the humidity in bathrooms can shorten the life of certain supplies. You also ought to keep one in the car for any necessary care during vacations or outings. If you have children, talk with them about how to treat everyday scrapes and cuts, and what to do in an emergency.

First-aid kits can come pre-assembled, or you may decide you want to create your own to fit any family preferences or needs, like cartoon bandages or ointment you know you aren’t allergic to. Whether you’re building your own kit or buying one from the store, here are important supplies and materials that ought to be included:

The Basics

  • Antiseptic towelettes and solution
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Hand sanitizing agent or soap
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls
  • Several pairs/sizes of non-latex, disposable gloves
  • Various sizes of bandage strips, including butterfly bandages
  • Various sizes of gauze and sterile, nonstick bandages
  • Elastic wrap bandaging
  • Adhesive tape
  • Eyewash solution
  • Thermometer
  • Aluminum finger splint
  • Instant cold packs
  • Syringe
  • Medicine spoon or cup
  • Various sizes of safety pins
  • Various sizes of plastic bags
  • Duct tape
  • Bulb suction device for flushing of wounds
  • Breathing barrier
  • Lubricant, such as petroleum jelly
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • First-aid manual
  • List of inventory


  • Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.), acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.), and aspirin (never for children)
  • Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine
  • Antacids
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Calamine lotion
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Laxatives
  • Cold and cough medications
  • Personal medication that does not require refrigeration
  • Auto-injector of epinephrine (as prescribed by your physician)

For Emergencies

  • Phone numbers of emergency contacts, including your family doctor, pediatrician, poison control, local emergency services, emergency road service providers, and any family or friends you wish to be notified in the event of an emergency situation
  • Medical consent forms—one for each member of your family
  • Medical history forms—one for each member of your family
  • Waterproof headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • Pack of waterproof matches
  • Waterproof writing instrument and notepad
  • Space blanket
  • Cell phone and solar charger
  • Whistle
  • Small mirror

Keep Your Kit (And Yourself) Up To Date

It’s important to be familiar with the inventory of supplies in your first aid kit. For instance, it can be easy to raid the bandage and medication stock while on the road, or if you run out of your usual stores at home, so these need to be restocked. Make yourself a reminder to check expiration dates on medications, refill any necessary prescriptions, test battery life, and replenish any used supplies regularly. Review your first-aid manual to make sure you and your family members know how to handle situations that call for more than a quick cleaning and bandage. You may also choose to enroll yourself or your children in local classes that teach how to administer first-aid and use your first-aid kit properly. Take whatever measures you need in order to make sure that you and your family is safe. We hope this list has been helpful for you to be prepared for any situation.

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  • Dr. Nate Whittaker, MD Emergency Medicine Specialist
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