I don’t work nor have I ever worked in the medical field. However, as a civilian, I know the basic supplies that I need for me and my family. The type of supplies that we use often and the supplies that we need for ‘just in case’.
I’ve put together many first aid kits and have used many first aid items, I also practice using sutures every once and a while. So the items that I list below come from experience and reading many books on first aid.
These basic supplies could be for your home, car or work. If you carry a purse or a pack of some sort, you may want to consider making a version of this so you always have some sort of first aid supplies on you.
Let me be blunt: tampons and pads are only to be used in case you have NOTHING else to use! Please DO NOT pack tampons and pads in your first aid kit. Pack the actual supplies, such as gauze. Tampons and pads are not sanitary and should ONLY be used if there is NOTHING else that you can use.
Ok, onto the list of practical first aid supplies. Many of these first aid supplies can be found from the dollar store, so there’s no excuse not to have a basic first aid kit.
In addition to first aid supplies, I would suggest picking up a book or two and going to first aid classes to learn necessary first aid skills. We all know how to put on a bandaid and maybe how to wrap gauze, but there’s a lot more to first aid than that.
Here’s what to put in a basic first aid kit:
-Bandaids: Many people will poo-poo the usefulness of bandaids, but they’re great for a quick cover up. Bandaids are especially useful to cover up blisters, whether you decide to pop them or leave them, putting a bandaid over it can help seal out germs and dirt. Bandaids are also great for kids. I don’t always need nor want to grab gauze when I just want to quickly cover up a small wound.
-Gauze: For those bigger jobs, gauze is going to be important to have around.
-Tape: Find medical specific tape, preferably the waterproof kind.
-Scissors: You may need to cut off clothing or cut off bandages. In this case, having some scissors around is going to be useful.
-Alcohol wipes: Alcohol wipes are an important part of keeping certain wounds and areas clean before proceeding to let it open heal or to cover it up. Alcohol wipes aren’t for every type of wound, but for the smaller stuff, they’ll be useful.
-Superglue: Superglue can be an effective way to seal small wounds. I would suggest using superglue as a last resort, though it works well to seal the wound from the elements and dirt.
-Flashlight: Whether you carry a flashlight with you everyday or not, it never hurts to have a flashlight around to help see what you’re doing.
-Cold compress: Cold compresses are great for headaches, muscle strains, gout pain, muscle sprains, eye allergies, fever and more.
-Medications: I would suggest a few basic medications such as pain relievers, tums, anti-diarrhea tablets, allergy medication (such as benadryl) and any medications that is specific to babies and children or elderly or disabled or pets if they apply.
-Tweezers: Tweezers are useful for pulling out splinters and a variety of other needs.
-Nail clippers: Broken nails and hangnails are no joke. Nail clippers are handy to have around in your kit.
-Snake bite kit: There’s some conflicting information about what to do with a snake bite, but some of the most common information is to use a suction to suck out some of the poison from the wound. By doing this, you could remove around 20% of the venom. Everything that I’ve ever seen also says to never cut open a snake bite wound. Before relying on a snake bite kit, learn what you need to do in case you were bit by a snake.
-Neosporin: I don’t personally carry Neosporin because in most cases, it’s not necessary. Cleaning the wound and covering it up is good enough. But some people like. If you like it, feel free to add it.
-Clotting agent: If you want to make your first aid kit a bit more advanced, add a clotting agent such as QuikClot.
-Splint: A splint, such as a SAM Splint will be useful instead of trying to improvise a splint. Plus, the SAM Splint is reusable, so that’s a bonus. Again, learn how to properly splint before adding this to your kit.
-Tourniquet: Personally, I think a tourniquet is required for all first aid kits, but I put it under this optional section because if you don’t know how to use a tourniquet, then don’t add it in. Same goes for anything else in your kit(s); if you don’t know how to use it, don’t add it. But, once you’ve learned, add it.
-Dental emergency first aid: There are things you can buy to make your own temporary filling and other emergency dental supplies. There’s also this handy emergency dental kit that has basically everything you need for some dental emergencies.
-Pocket first aid guide: If you ever need a refresher on how to do something first aid related, having a pocket guide with your kit will be useful.
Make a list of everything that’s inside of your kit and keep it current.
Inventory your first aid kits at least once a year. Change out all the medications and anything else that looks like it needs to be refreshed.
At first, you may want to buy a pre-made first aid kit and that’s perfectly fine. Our home first aid kit was purchased from Walgreens for about $20 and it’s packed to the brim with good stuff. However, I make all of our other kits like the one for our Jeep, the one for my hiking bag, the one for my BONCH and so on. It’s also good practice to make your own kits so that you know for sure what’s in each one and that you feel confident in using each item.