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Building a well-stocked first aid kit is one thing you can do to prepare for an emergency. These boxes or bags come in all shapes and sizes, and you can tailor yours to suit your family's specific needs.

Whether you are keeping your first aid kit at home or in your car or taking it with you on your next camping or backpacking trip, there are some things that every first aid kit should have so you are prepared for anything.

Personal Protective Equipment

Many people overlook personal protective equipment when building a well-stocked first aid kit, but it is an essential addition.

You never know what type of care you will need to provide, and protecting yourself in any situation is important. Include several pairs of non-latex gloves, a few surgical masks, an eye shield, and a mouthguard for giving CPR.

hand holding surgical masks over a first aid kit

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Wound Cleaning

Whether your child falls off their bike and scrapes their knee or your partner slips while hiking and scratches their elbow, wounds, cuts, and scratches are very common. Without proper cleaning, there is a greater chance of infection.

Every first aid kit should have wound cleaning supplies. These include hand sanitizer, bulb suction, sterile water, antiseptic solution, a large syringe for washing larger wounds, and antiseptic wipes and cotton balls for smaller cuts.

antiseptic solution applied to cut knee

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Wound Management

During cleaning, some wounds may require additional care, so you should include wound management supplies in your first aid kit.

These supplies include tweezers to remove splinters or debris, tourniquets to stop active bleeding, and super glue, liquid bandage, and butterfly bandages for when you need to hold more significant cuts closed.

first aid kit with tweezers and thermometer

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Wound Dressings

When building a well-stocked first aid kit, include a variety of supplies for dressing wounds. Add sterile gauze pads and bandages of different sizes so you are prepared to take care of any size wound or cut.

It's also a good idea to keep bandage scissors, tape, elastic wrap bandages, rolls of gauze, and various plastic bags in assorted sizes to dispose of used dressings and bandages properly.

man outdoors with small first aid kit

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Injury Management

Keep injury management in mind when putting together a first aid kit so you can manage minor injuries. Consider adding cold compresses for sprains and hot packs for pulled muscles, knee and ankles braces, an arm splint, and an aluminum finger splint.

You may not need these supplies in every situation, but they are good to have on hand if you are camping or hiking and have to be more self-reliant.

hot/cold compress on someone's hurt leg

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Medications

It is a good idea to have a variety of common medications in your first aid kit. Aloe vera gel can help treat sunburns, and calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream are great for bug bites and itchy rashes.

You should also have over-the-counter pain medications, antacids, laxatives, anti-diarrhea medications, and cold and cough medications.

woman going through medications in her first aid kit

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Emergency Items

A well-stocked first aid kit should also contain a variety of emergency information, items, and supplies. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers in your first aid kit, including contact information for your family doctors, local emergency services, and the poison control center.

If you want to expand the use of your first aid kit to general emergency safety, you can also add a small flashlight, batteries, bug repellant, sunscreen, and waterproof matches.

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Customizations

Every family has different needs, so make sure you customize your kit for what your own requirements.

For example, if you have a family member with a severe allergy, ensure you have an extra epinephrine injector and antihistamine medication. If someone in your family has diabetes, have glucagon and glucose tablets on hand.

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Check Your Kit Regularly

Once your first aid kit is well-stocked, you cannot just put it away and forget about it. To ensure you have everything you need when using the kit, you should check it regularly.

Check the expiration dates, replace anything that is no longer usable, and restock any supplies that are running low.

woman checking her home first aid kit

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Additional Tips

Having a well-stocked first aid kit is one thing, but learning how to use it is another. There are many practical skills to learn to deal with emergencies.

Keep a first aid manual in the kit as a reference, and consider getting formal training in first aid or CPR. Friends and family members are often the first on the scene in a medical emergency, and knowing what to do can help make the situation a little less scary.

students watching instructor at a CPR class

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.