The Importance of Owning A First Aid Kit

Injuries can happen in a blink of an eye, at any time, and anywhere. Response time can be crucial with certain types of injuries, and it may be up to you to help someone (or yourself) before first responders arrive. You may even save a life. These situations may mean the difference between, life or death. So ask yourself, do you have the confidence to take the right steps if a situation were to occur?

First aid kit being opened by a woman

Why you need a first aid kit.

Have you ever been in a situation where you frantically had to dig around for just a band-aide, gauze or even a pair of tweezers?  You may have not realized just how important it is to have quick access to a first aid kit.  Let’s discuss some of the reasons why it’s important to have one close by. 

  1. Treat quickly:  Having easy access to a first aid kit, guarantees you to be able to treat an injury more effectively.  It often takes time for first responders to arrive on the scene and sometimes a first aid kit can be your ticket between life and death.
  2. Reduce the severity of an injury:  If you have quick and easy access to a first aid kit, you are most likely to reduce the severity of the injury you are dealing with.  For example, if an injury causes severe blood loss, someone’s life could be in danger. Having access to a tourniquet could keep someone alive while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
  3. Prevent infections: Injuries, such as a cut, can cause an infection.  Knowing first aid and having access to a first aid kit can help you prevent infections from dirt, gravel or other germs.  Follow the necessary steps to care for wounds. 
  4. Kids are prone to injury: Kids will be kids and are highly likely to injure themselves.  Oftentimes just due to lack of experience and their overall nature. Keep a first aid kit handy (and re-stocked) with the appropriate supplies to care for cuts, bruises, burns and more.
  5. Be calm:  Injuries can be nerve-wracking.  Having a well stocked first aid kit can give you some peace of mind in dealing with a minor, or even severe injury.  It’s best to be prepared at all times.

Where should you keep a first aid kit.

Injuries can happen in the blink of an eye – anywhere and anyplace. Keep a first aid kit at the following locations:  

  1. Home:  The most important place to keep a first aid kit is in your home.  This is where we spend a lot of our time.  A suggestion is to store your kit in your kitchen where it is accessible to anyone in your home. 
  2. Car:  Injuries can occur when you are traveling or you may come across an accident where someone may need your help.  If your kit is small, keep it in the glove box or in a location where it is easy to access.
  3. Boat/RV: Accidents and injuries can occur while fishing, boating, camping or traveling in your RV.  You may consider a waterproof container for your kit on a boat. 
  4. Consider your lifestyle: Take into consideration the things you like to do or the places you go where it would be beneficial to take along a first aid kit? Perhaps the river, backpacking, or even mountain biking. Depending on where that is, you may alter what you pack into your first aid kit.

Key items your first aid kit should include.

There are no set guidelines on what a first aid kit should contain. Before investing in the items needed for your first aid kit, first ask yourself in what environment, and what capacity do you want the first aid kit to serve.  First aid kits come in many shapes and sizes.  Some kits are designed for specific activities, such as hiking, camping or boating.  Whether you buy a kit or put one together, make sure it has all the items you may need.  The Red Cross recommends that all first aid kits for a family of four include the following:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5×9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 emergency blanket
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of non latex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 1  3 in. gauze roll (roller) bandage
  • 1 roller bandage (4 in wide)
  • 5  3 in. x 3in. sterile gauze pads
  • 5  sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non mercury/non glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Emergency first aid guide
woman using first aid kit

The USCCA’s (United States Concealed Carry Association) Emergency First Aid Fundamentals recommends creating kits to include not only comfort items (like listed above) but may include life saving items such as (to name a few):

  • Surgical sponges
  • “H” or emergency bandage
  • 25 grams Quikclot sponge
  • Medium sized burn dressing
  • Pocket mask or NuMask
  • Tourniquet
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Trauma shears

The items in kits (small, medium, or large) are created based on the determined time it would take EMS to arrive.  Small kits would contain items needed when EMS is no more than 10 minutes away.  A medium kit would contain additional items that may be needed when EMS is no more than an hour away.  A large kit would contain items to aid an injured person when EMS is further than a day away, such as a multi-day hiking or backpacking trip.

The American Red Cross also recommends the following:

  • Include any personal items such as medications and emergency phone numbers or other items your health-care provider may suggest.
  • Check the kit regularly.
  • Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date contents.

First aid kits can help in many dire situations ranging from small cuts to broken bones.  Treat the ones you love quickly and efficiently with a fully stocked kit.  Consider First Aid/CPR training from the Red Cross or take the USCCA’s Emergency First Aid Fundamentals class. 

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