Your first-aid kit is a collection of supplies and equipment for use in giving first aid. First-aid kits contain a variety of equipment that may include bandages for controlling bleeding, personal protective equipment such as gloves, a breathing barrier for performing EAR (expired air resuscitation) and CPR, and sometimes instructions on how to perform first aid.
Commercially available first aid kits available via normal retail routes have traditionally been intended for treatment of minor injuries only. Typical contents include adhesive bandages, regular strength pain medication, gauze and low grade disinfectant.
Specialized first aid kits are available for various regions, vehicles or activities and may include some or all of the following:
Adhesive bandages are one of the most commonly used items in a first aid kit.
Dressings applied directly to the wound
- Sterile eye pads
- Sterile gauze pads
- Sterile non-adherent pads
- Burn dressing (sterile pad soaked in a cooling gel)
- Gauze roller bandages – absorbent, breathable, and often elastic
- Elastic bandages – used for sprains, and pressure bandages
- Adhesive, elastic roller bandages – very effective pressure bandages or durable, waterproof bandaging
- Triangular bandages – used as slings, tourniquets, to tie splints, and many other uses
- Adhesive bandages (band-aids)
- Adhesive tape, hypoallergenic
Straight adhesive bandages
- Butterfly bandages
- Trauma Shears for cutting clothing and general use
- Blood Pressure Cuff and Stethoscope
- Lighter, for sterilizing tweezers or pliers etc
- Irrigation syringe, for cleaning wounds
- Rubber suction bulb, for clearing the airway of an unconscious patient
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Gloves, disposable non-latex
- CPR Mask or other breathing barrier
Eye cup or small plastic cup
Instant-acting chemical cold packs
Sterile eye wash (commonly saline)
Sterile saline (used for cleaning wounds where clean tap water is not available)
Swabs, sterile non-woven
Space blanket (lightweight plastic foil blanket, also known as “emergency blanket”)
Alcohol rub (hand sanitizer) or antiseptic hand wipes
- Disposable gloves are often found in modern first-aid kits.
Medication – Check your local regulations
Alcohol pads – used to prep unbroken skin for injections etc. or to disinfect equipment such as thermometers.
- Antibiotic ointment – single, double, or triple antibiotic ointment in petroleum jelly base
- Antiseptic/anesthetic ointment or spray
- Anti-itch ointment
Antihistamine cream, such as benadryl
- Calamine lotionPainkillers / fever reducers
- AcetaminophenIbuprofen – anti-inflammatory, often more effective than acetaminophen.
Diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl)
- Aloe vera gel – used for a wide variety of skin problems, including burns, sunburns, itching, and dry skinBurn gel – a water-based gel that acts as a cooling agent and often includes a mild anesthetic such as lidocaine and, sometimes, an antiseptic such as tea tree oilPoison treatments
- Syrup of ipecac
- QuickClot is a hemostatic agent sometimes included in first aid kits, especially military kits, to control severe bleeding.
Improvised uses: Many first-aid items can have improvised uses in a survival situation. For example, alcohol pads and petroleum jelly-based ointments can be used as a fire-starting aid in an emergency, and the latter can even be used as an improvised lubricant for certain mechanical devices, and adhesive tapes and bandages can be used for repairs. These alternate uses can be an important consideration when picking items for a kit that may be used in wilderness or survival situations.