A first-aid kit is essential for every home and car. Here’s how to create one so you’re prepared for most minor illnesses and injuries.
It’s inevitable, particularly if you have children, that someone in your household will suffer a minor injury from time to time. It might be as simple as a scraped knee, or something a little more serious – a cut from a sharp kitchen knife, perhaps.
Being ready for life’s little accidents is essential. “We recommend that every home has a first-aid kit that is easily accessible and fully stocked with contents that have not expired,” advises a spokesperson for the Australian Red Cross.
Both Australian Red Cross
and St John Ambulance Australia
sell extremely well-organised first-aid kits for the home. But creating one yourself can be relatively simple and cost-efficient. Choose a large plastic container as the base of your kit, and smaller containers or baskets to divide the contents into logical compartments. Like any medications in the household, ensure the kit cannot be accessed by children – a high cupboard in the kitchen is as good a place as any to store it.
St John Ambulance Australia recommends regularly checking the contents of your kit to ensure the contents are clean, packets are properly sealed, expiry dates haven’t been exceeded, and used items have been replaced.
But what should your first-aid kit contain? Here are 12 essential components.
But what should your first-aid kit contain? Here are 12 essential components:
1. Adhesive strip dressings
For minor cuts and skin injuries. Parents of young children might want to keep colourful patterned versions in stock. Do not use on burnt or grazed skin.
2. Wound dressings
These can help to control bleeding and protect wounds; it’s advisable to keep a few different sizes in your kit.
3. Elastic (crepe) and non-elastic bandages
The first are used to help hold wound dressings in place, to apply pressure and provide support; the second for slings, to help hold splints in place and to help restrict movement.
4. Swabs and disposable gloves
Swabs are used to clean your hands, and patient wounds and surrounding skin. Disposable gloves help to prevent infection; buy a size that will fit all adult hands in the household.
5. A pair of scissors and blunt-nosed shears
The scissors will cut dressings and bandages to size, while the shears will cut away clothing, if necessary.
Essential for removing splinters: invest in a pair with elongated pointed ends designed specifically for the job.
This solution, which contains sodium chloride (salt) and water, is used to clean wounds and to flush minor irritants – dust, sand, insects – from the eyes.
8. Burn relief cream or gel
“Useful when there is no cool running water available,” says a spokesperson for the Australian Red Cross. “It can be applied to minor burns or to continue relief when travelling to medical help.”
9. Adhesive tape
Important for securing dressings. A permeable tape, such as Micropore, is recommended.
10. A thermal blanket
“This [helps] protects against cold and weather and prevents the loss of body heat,” says a spokesperson for St John Ambulance Australia.
11. Notepad and pencil
Important for recording times and details of an illness or injury.
Neither St John Ambulance Australia
nor Australian Red Cross
have recommendations about personal medications in first-aid kits, “They’re not considered to be emergency first-aid treatments,” says an Australian Red Cross spokesperson. But it makes sense to keep pain-relieving medication – such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – for both adults and children on hand. Parents with young children should have plastic syringes for correct dosing, and consider a digital thermometer to keep track of body temperature.
A well-stocked first-aid kit is a great asset, but it is strongly recommended that at least one member of your household is trained in first aid. Always call triple zero (000) in an emergency. For more information, visit the Australian Red Cross or St John Ambulance websites.