A must-have in every home, a well stocked first aid kit enables you to administer care in the event of a minor injury. It also allows you to provide basic first aid while waiting for emergency services to arrive when a more serious injury occurs.
Keeping all the essential items together in a small bag or case is very handy.
Basic first aid supplies
A first aid kit should include:
- Bandage scissors
- Tweezers or splinter forceps
- Safety pins
- Sterile adhesive bandages
- Sterile gauze pads of various sizes
- Sterile compress pressure bandages
- Triangular bandages
- Roll of first aid tape
- Antiseptic wipes
- Rolls of sterile gauze bandages of various sizes
In addition to the basic supplies, it is recommended that you supplement the first aid kit with items that are useful to have at home, such as:
- A digital thermometer (or two if one is used for taking rectal temperature)
- An ice pack for pain and swelling
- A hot pack to relieve pain
- Sterile gloves
- Elastic bandages
- Adhesive tape to secure dressings and bandages
- A graduated cup or syringe to measure the amount of liquid medication to administer
- A first aid guide and contact information for emergency services
The home medicine cabinet
To treat common ailments, several products and medications are a must in every medicine cabinet.
Here is a list of must-have medications to have on hand:
|Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol, Tempra) and ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin)
|To relieve fever, pain and headaches
|Antihistamine (e.g., Benadryl, Claritin, Reactine, Allegra)
|To treat allergic reactions
|Antibiotic cream or ointment (e.g., Polysporin)
|To prevent minor skin infections
|Antinausea (e.g., Gravol)
|To relieve nausea
|Hydrocortisone cream or ointment 0.5% (e.g., Cortate)
|To relieve itching caused by insect bites, skin irritations or mild eczema
|Antidiarrheal (e.g., Imodium)
|To treat diarrhea
|Oral rehydration solution (e.g., Pedialyte, Hydralyte)
|To prevent dehydration in the event of diarrhea or vomiting
|Saline water nasal spray or drops (e.g., Salinex, Sinus Rinse, hydraSense)
|To decongest, cleanse or moisturize the nose. Can also be used to clean wounds.
|Antacid (e.g., Tums, Pepcid)
|To relieve acid reflux and heartburn
|Zinc oxide cream (e.g., Zincofax, Penaten)
|To treat diaper rash and other types of irritation
|Artificial tears (e.g., Systane, Refresh Tears)
|To relieve dry eyes and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis
|Sunscreen with SPF of at least 30
|To protect the skin from the sun's rays
|Epinephrine (e.g., Epipen)
|If one or more family members have severe allergic reactions
Medication should be stored in a dry, enclosed area and at room temperature (unless otherwise specified). Rather than storing medication in the bathroom, store it in a kitchen or laundry room cabinet or in a bedroom closet, for example. Keep all medications in their original containers, out of reach of children.
Once a year, go through the various medications and check the expiration dates. If anything is expired, do not throw in the garbage or flush down the toilet. Simply take back to the pharmacist for safe disposal. Caution, some medications are considered to be expired before the date on the packaging (e.g., eyedrops - once open).
To save precious time in an emergency situation, keep a list of emergency phone numbers in your first aid kit.
|Canada, except province of Québec: 1 844 POISON-X (1 844-764-7669)
|Province of Québec: 1 800 463-5060
Also, be sure to add contact information for your pharmacist, family doctor and dentist to your list of emergency phone numbers.