Disasters and accidents can strike anywhere leaving you terrified and unprepared to combat. It has been two decades, but I still clearly remember the day when a kettle filled with piping hot tea spilled on my toddler brother’s legs. Where is the medical kit when I needed one.My mom was screaming for help, my brother was crying hysterically, I was frantically looking for my father and my other baby brother decided it was the perfect time to carry out his shenanigans.
How and when – I can’t recall – but we finally arrived at the hospital to find out my brother suffered from second degree burns. He was in a lot of pain, but it was a relief to find out he would be fine. After that fateful day, my parents kept a basic emergency medical kit at home and car.
Whenever we got hurt, our parents would first treat us with the medical kit and then take us to the surgery or hospital. I noticed having the kit made my parents, particularity my mom, calmer and more composed in emergencies. Now, with a super-active one year old of my own, who is always trying to climb the furniture and hide in kitchen cabinets, it’s high time I prepared my own emergency kit. After a lot of research and a few tips from my doctor, I put together my own first-aid kit.
When Do You Need a First-Aid Kit?
Before creating an emergency medical kit, you must know what you are preparing yourself for. Most of the times, the box comes handy when there are minor traumatic injuries that you can easily treat at home. They can be cuts, scrapes, splinters, sprains, strains, and burns.
You can also prepare for bites and stings but keep in mind that they may need further medical attention. If a family member has allergies or asthma, consult your doctor, and add anti-histamines, inhalers, nebulizers, or auto-injectors. If you are traveling, you can also add medicines for nasal congestion, sore throat, pain, and fever to alleviate the symptoms to your medical kit.
Stock Up Your First-Aid Kit
A first-aid kit stocked with essential items allow you to effectively treat minor injuries and emergencies without panicking. If you are planning to assemble your own medical kit and tailor it according to your personal needs, you may want to go through the Red Cross’ list. They recommend that the following things must be included in an emergency medical kit for a family of four.
Red Cross First Aid Kit Definitive List
Do use the links in the check list below to browse for your options on Amazon and complete your own emergency survival medical kit.
- 25 to 30 adhesive bandages of different sizes – Commonly known as band-aid, it is a small medical dressing used for minor cuts and wounds.
- 2 to 4 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches) – they are multi-layer dressings designed to absorb pus from the wounds.
- 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch) – Also known as surgical tape. It holds the bandages and dressings in place.
- 5 antibiotic ointment or antiseptic cream packets (approximately 1 gram) – They help in prevention of infections in minor injuries such as abrasions and first-degree burns.
- 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each) – For instant relief of pain.
- 1 blanket (space blanket) – It is a low-weight emergency blanket that prevents the loss of heat from the body. It can also be used as a shelter.
- 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve) – To perform CPR in emergencies.
- 1 instant cold compress – To reduce swelling and alleviate inflammation, pain, and itching.
- 2 pair of non-latex gloves (size: large) – For prevention of cross-infections while treating a patient.
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each) – It has a soothing action and offers temporary relief from minor skin irritations, itching and rashes.
- Scissors – For cutting gauze and bandages in appropriate length. They are also used for cutting away clothes from the site of injury.
- 2 roller gauze (3 and 4 inches wide) – To secure and hold the dressing in place, and to immobilize injured bone or joint.
- 10 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches, 4 x 4 inches) – For cushioning and controlling bleeding, and to apply antiseptic solutions.
- Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass) – To check fever.
- 2 triangular bandages – They are used to control bleeding, hold dressing and as an arm sling.
- Tweezers – To extract small objects from the wounds such as splinters.
I added the items above in to my box but also included several more:
- Medicine dropper – To give medicine to tantrum-throwing babies.
- Ammonia inhalant capsules – To arouse fainted people to consciousness.
- Paper-bags – For hyperventilation
- Throat lozenges – For sore throat
- Emergency phone numbers
Travel First Aid or Emergency Medical Kit
Prepare a separate travel first aid kit and keep it in an easily accessible area of car. Besides adding the basic items mentioned above; you must add:
- Sunscreen to avoid sunburns.
- Molefoam; especially if you are going biking, hiking, or camping.
- Insect repellents to keep the annoying bugs away.
- Water purification tablets in case you have to drink from water bodies.
Apart from medicines, some other items are quite useful in mobile emergency kits including a whistle, torch, spare batteries, water-proof matches, and power bank. For instance, if you get lost in a dark cave or require urgent help in a remote area, flashlights and whistles are lifesaving and can help you get rescued.
Roadside Safety Kit
If it is a taking a road trip, remember to check that you have the necessary car safety kit. The roadside kit should have jumper cable, tow rope, high visibility safety vests (one for each passenger), emergency triangle, tyre changing kit, portable air compressor or foot pump, multi-tools, gloves, seat belt cutter, window hammer, some spare fuse and spare bulbs for head lights, break lights and signalling lights.
Tips to Remember
- Either buy a first-aid kit container or keep your supplies in a large and rigid translucent box. Label it clearly so that everyone knows what it is. You can either jot down the name on stick-on or sew a patch of ‘the red cross’. You can also keep your supplies in a small bag with a zipper.
- Keep the first-aid kit in an accessible and visible area. Trust me, when your child is screaming in pain, you don’t want to waste your time and energy hunting for the box.
- Tell your family members the location of the box and inform them about each component and its usage. While it is necessary to keep it out of reach of small children, they must know its location so that they can show it to their babysitter or visitor in case of emergency.
- Keep your first-aid box up to date. What if you open the kit after ages and find out that there are no more bandages or the painkiller you now urgently need has expired? A good idea is to stick a checklist on the lid of the box and update it regularly.
- Ensure that there are enough supplies for everyone. This is quite important when you are traveling.
Here you go! You have just designed your very own first-aid or emergency medical kit for emergencies. If God-forbid some medical crisis arises, remember to utilise your kit, and don’t panic. After first-aid, make sure you head to the hospital or call an ambulance. If you feel it is too much of a hassle to put together a kit, you can buy a pre-built first-aid kit from the Red Cross.