What to Put in Your Home First Aid Kit
A drawer full of bandages won't be much help in a real emergency. Here's what you need to be prepared for anything
If your idea of a first aid kit is a drawer full of loose bandages and a bottle of ibuprofen, it's time for an overhaul. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommends that every home have a well-stocked first aid kit.
Whether you buy one or create one yourself, make sure it has everything and anything you may need in an emergency. Besides obvious items, the American Red Cross suggests adding personal ones, including prescription medications (with child safety caps), a list of emergency phone numbers and information about your family's medical providers.
Wrangle everything into a clear, waterproof container and store it where all older kids and adults can get to it easily. Make sure everyone knows how to use each item in the kit as well.
Putting it all together
These are the basic items every home first aid kit should contain.
Bandages and other items for wound care. Have an assortment of bandages of different sizes and shapes for minor cuts and scrapes. You'll need rolls of gauze and tape to dress larger cuts. Add in latex-free gloves to wear while cleaning wounds to prevent infection.
Over-the-counter medications. Besides pain-relief medication — acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin (which only adults should take) — stock your first aid kit with cough and cold medicines. Make sure you have age-appropriate formulations for everyone in the house.
Tools. For small emergencies, add a thermometer for fevers, tweezers for splinters, cold packs for injuries and scissors, advises the Red Cross. Add a flashlight (and extra batteries) in case you're also dealing with a loss of power during an emergency.
Allergies. If a family member suffers from allergies, add antihistamines in liquid or tablet form. If someone has a life-threatening allergy, make sure to pack a self-injectable Epi-Pen.
Skin irritation. To relieve itching from insect bites or poison ivy, include calamine lotion. For burns and dry skin, add aloe vera gel.
Space blankets. If your heater breaks and the temperature drops, these can help everyone stay warm and prevent hypothermia.
Medical forms. Place copies of medical consent forms for each child and medical histories for each family member in the first aid kit.
More first aid kit tips
- Check flashlight batteries every few months
- Check supplies’ expiration dates in your first aid kit regularly
- Refill any supplies that are low or empty
- Consider taking a first-aid course nearby to sharpen your emergency skills