Despite our best efforts to avoid injuries and accidents, they can – and do – happen, often at home. A well-stocked first aid kit will help you take action – whether you have to deal with a cut or bruise, or quickly ‘stabilise’ an injury before you head to the emergency room. Here’s what your home kit should include:
Ready-assembled first aid kits come in different shapes and sizes, and are available from various outlets including pharmacies, and sports, or outdoors stores. Choose one that suits your family’s needs, or tailor-make your own kit. If you decide to do the latter, opt for a durable, water-tight container that’s big enough to fit all the items you may need. Look out for containers with dividers to help you keep the contents organised.
When buying a kit or putting together your own, make sure that it contains these basics:
•For wounds and injuries
Different types of bandages (including elastic wraps), compress dressings, gauze, and plasters in various sizes, as well as hydrogen peroxide to disinfect and clean wounds, and an antiseptic or antibiotic solution. And don’t forget the adhesive cloth tape. Adding a cold pack to treat injuries and burns is also a great idea.
•For bites, stings, and irritations
Include an oral antihistamine, hydrocortisone cream (for rashes), calamine lotion, aloe vera gel, and even a saline solution which can be used as a sterile eye wash. Drugs to treat allergic attacks e.g. bee stings (as prescribed by your doctor) should also be included.
•For common symptoms
Your kit should contain over-the-counter pain relievers for all ages, anti-diarrhoea and anti-nausea medication, as well as cold and cough remedies. Always store medications in their proper containers.
•Other must haves
A thermometer, cotton balls, disposable gloves, plastic bags to dispose of items, safety pins, scissors and tweezers, and medicine spoons. You can also include an instant hand sanitiser, sunscreen, and after-sun lotion.
Pack a flashlight (with extra batteries), candles and matches, emergency space blanket, and a first aid manual. And remember the updated list of emergency contact numbers – just in case.
Be kit savvy
Now that your kit is assembled, remember to follow these tips:
•Your first aid kit should be easily accessible. Older children should know where to find it (and how to use items), but it should be stored out of very young kids’ reach.
•Check the kit every three months to make sure that it still includes everything you need and to replace items that have reached their expiration dates.
•Include and update family members’ medical information, e.g. allergies and a list of their chronic medication, as well as copies of identity documents, and medical aid details.
•Consider enrolling for a first aid course. Learning basic first aid techniques can also prepare children for emergencies.
•It’s also a good idea to pack a similar first aid kit for your car.
•If any symptoms don’t improve or worsen, the best advice is always to seek a medical opinion. The same applies if an injury is serious.