Posted by Michael Barber, August 20, 2013 (last updated on November 28, 2018)
Accidents never happen at the most relaxed moments. They usually occur when we're already tired, busy, and stressed, making it even more hectic to stop, think, and treat the injury. By having these things on hand, tucked conveniently in a first aid kit carrying case, you'll be a step ahead when boo-boos do occur.
1. Assorted Bandages
Stock the first aid kit with every size bandage from a tiny one to cover a small prick to a larger one capable of covering a scrape or burn. Wrap the bandages in a plastic zipper bag to keep them dry and sterile until they're needed.
Any wound is capable of becoming infected, so after the bleeding stops the first course of action is to treat it with antiseptic. Puncture wounds are particularly susceptible, so always visit an urgent care center if the wound is large or deep.
3. Antibiotic Ointment
Antiseptics kill the bacteria on the site immediately, but antibiotic ointments keep the wound germ free until it heals enough not to allow contaminants in. These ointments may also help prevent scarring, and can speed recovery.
4. Hydrocortisone Cream
You can stop bug bites, poison oak and ivy, and other itchy nuisances with hydrocortisone cream. Check the expiration dates on creams and ointments twice per year. A good way to remember this is to check your first aid kit each fall and spring when you set your clocks and check your smoke alarm batteries.
Scissors are handy for opening bandage packages and cutting tape to secure bandages. Scissors are also useful for opening stubborn packages of creams, ointments, and over the counter medications. Pediatric urgent care specialists recommend keeping the first aid scissors clean and separate from scissors used for cooking and other household purposes to prevent contamination of wounds.
6. Medical Tape
Tape is necessary for securing bandages, but it's also useful if you need to apply steady pressure to stop bleeding. Unlike ordinary adhesive tape, specifically designed medical tape is gentle and easy to remove. It's also sterile, which is important when dealing with open wounds.
Like scissors and tape, it's good to have a clean pair of tweezers in the first aid kit, so you're not trying to remove splinters or a tick with tweezers gobbed with makeup from the bottom of your purse or bathroom drawer. Tweezers are also helpful for removing debris from scratches and cuts.
8. Cold Packs
Cold packs can be prepackaged dry ice or simply a zippered plastic bag with a few ice cubes, but cold packs are wonderful for reducing and preventing swelling of contusions and sprains. If you go the baggie and ice route, use a cloth between the cold pack and skin to prevent frostbite.
9. Hand Sanitizer
It's important to keep germs out of cuts, scratches, and burns. Hand sanitizer is a fast way to sterilize your hands when washing isn't possible or convenient. If the cut is deep or there is a severe burn, seek emergency family care instead of trying to treat it yourself.
10. Clean Blanket
When wounds are severe, shock is always a possibility. Instead of grabbing a blanket from the couch that the dog slept on last night, keep a clean blanket in the first aid bag.Emergencies happen, but with a well stocked first aid kit, you'll be on top of them in a flash. Use good judgment when it comes to treating at home versus seeking professional help at a walk-in clinic.