A first aid kit is an important tool to help you respond to both everyday accidents and injuries, as well as emergency situations. A first aid kit should contain basic medical supplies to prepare you for any emergency.
You can purchase a first aid kit (like this on on Amazon), but putting together your own has several advantages. For one, it can be less expensive since you probably have a lot of the supplies on hand already. Additionally, even if you purchase a basic first aid kit, you’ll want to personalize it and include supplies specific to your family’s needs. And third, it’s a lot easier to make sure everything in your kit is within its expiration date when you’ve assembled it yourself.
We’ve compiled a list of everything a first aid kit should have, for both everyday and unusual occurrences, along with tips for customizing your kit for your family.
What to include in a first aid kit: The basics
Antiseptic and sterilization
For an emergency first aid kit (like the one in your 72-hour kit), include a CPR breathing barrier, a heat-reflecting blanket, and at least one instant cold compress. And all first aid kits, regardless of where they are kept, should include a first aid instruction booklet.
Customize to your family’s needs
Beyond the basics of a first aid kit, consider what medicines or supplies your family uses on a regular basis. For example, if someone has hypoglycemia, frequent heartburn, or extremely dry skin, include the items they regularly use to treat those conditions.
If anyone in your family depends on a medication or prescription, you should definitely have some in your emergency first aid kit. That includes an epinephrine autoinjector for extreme allergies. Have a list of emergency phone numbers and a copy of your family’s vaccination records, if possible.
What to include in a first aid kit: For children
What to include in a first aid kit: For the outdoors
For camping or hiking trips, consider the terrain when you pack your first aid kit. If you know you’ll be in extreme temperatures, add electrolyte replacement solutions for dehydration and a low-reading (hypothermia) thermometer for extreme cold. Many outdoor enthusiasts also recommend having a small knife and waterproof matches with you. And of course, all of this should be held in a water-resistant container.
How many first aid kits should I have?
You should have at least one first aid kit in your home and one in each car. If you own other vehicles, such as a boat or an RV, be sure to have a first aid kit for those as well. A first aid kit should also be part of an emergency 72-hour kit.
Where should I keep my first aid kit?
Because a first aid kit’s primary purpose is to provide needed supplies in case of minor injuries or accidents, it is important to have one—even a pared-down one of just the essentials in a purse or backpack—on hand anywhere you go. At home, keep your first aid kit someplace easy to access but out of the reach of young children. Make sure all adults, older children, and even regular guests (like grandparents) know where to find it.
What kind of container should I use?
Ideally, a first aid kit container will have compartments to keep everything organized and easy to find, but it could be just about anything from a gallon-sized zip-top bag to a tackle box to several bins on a shelf in your closet. For an emergency kit, the key is to keep it as compact as possible. The kit that you use regularly in your home can be larger or more spread out.
Make first aid part of your life
While it’s tempting to put everything you could ever need in a first aid kit, remember that its primary purpose is to treat minor injuries and wounds. Think about your family’s specific needs. Do you have babies or young children? Adults who require extra care? Does anyone in your family rely on medication? How often do you go camping or out into the wild? These questions will help guide you as you prepare and pack your first aid kits.
Remember to regularly check your kits to make sure medicines are not past their expiration dates. Always wash and sterilize all equipment after every use (tweezers, thermometers, scissors, etc.). And once you have put together your first aid kits, know that you are prepared to use them in any situation.
To help you get organized, download our printable checklist of everything you need for your first aid kit.
What items do you consider essential in your first aid kits? Is there anything we’ve left off our list? Comment below to share your experiences.