Home first aid kit checklist - what you need for an emergency

Posted by Bob Harris on


The first moments after any emergency situation are the most critical, which makes a first-aid kit one of the most important things you can have in your home.
 
However, it’s easy to get confused about exactly what you need to have in it. So, today we put together a checklist that you can use to make your own.

In all honesty, there are probably a thousand different things that you could put in your kit, but it’s likely you don’t have the time, space or money to buy all of them.

So, what we want to do is break this down to the bare essentials. Your first aid supplies need to be comprehensive enough to cover all the basic emergencies you might face, but also portable and compact enough so you can fit them into your glove box or a kitchen drawer.
 
Always keep in mind that your needs are unique to your own situation. You might need to add to or subtract from this list based on preexisting conditions.


  • Bandages - simply put, if there is something bleeding, you need to be able to stop the bleeding and cover the wound to keep out infections.

    We always recommend getting 20 or so regular sized bandages and then 5 or more larger ones for bigger wounds.
 
  • Medical Gloves - this is for the safety of the person that is treating whoever is wounded. When handling wounds, it is just as important to protect yourself as it is to protect the injured person.


    Now, you could argue that since you are using this just for your family, medical gloves could be unnecessary. To which I say: no matter who you are treating, protecting yourself is always necessary.

    Who knows? Maybe some day you’ll need to use this kit on a visitor who has come to your home. You’ll be glad you have your gloves then.


 
  • Medical Shears - there are multiple uses for medical shears. The ones we recommend (Leatherman Raptor) are used for cutting off bandages or pieces of clothing without damaging the skin.
     
    This can be especially useful if the victim in question is wearing a piece of clothing that is getting in the way of the wound. Or, if the wound you are treating is a current wound that’s covered by a bandage and you need to get the bandage out of the way without harming the patient.

 
  • Gauze – once you have the bandages we recommended above, what if you run into a wound that’s too big for one of these to cover?
     
    Or, even worse, what if the wound is severe enough a normal bandage wouldn't stick to it? A large laceration or a burn is especially susceptible to this.
     
    In an extreme case where you are dealing with a large laceration or a burn, using a large piece of gauze is the most effective way to treat the wound.
 
  • Medical Tape - if you’re using gauze, you will need tape to hold it over the wound.

    Medical tape is designed especially to be used in contact with the skin, usually being made of a hypoallergenic adhesive. It generally removes easily without damaging the skin, which is medical tape’s main advantage over using any other tape to treat a wound.
 
  • Safety Pins - these have a number of uses in a first-aid kit, some of the more common include: holding a bandana or piece of gauze over a wound (if you don’t have tape), repairing a piece of damaged clothing or repairing a bandage.

    Not to mention, they can hold together any piece of cloth you have, like your pack if you cut it. Considering these are extremely inexpensive and small, I don’t see why you wouldn’t include some in your kit.
 
  • Hand Sanitizer - the use of sanitizer here is similar to the use of the gloves from above, except we are protecting the wounded this time.
     
    Open wounds are highly susceptible to infection, and it’s important that anything coming near the wound is sterilized. All it takes is a trace of bacteria or other contaminants in the bloodstream to cause some major problems down the line.
 
  • Antiseptic Agent/Alcohol Pads – used to sterilize a wound before covering it with a bandage.

    Infections can be a slow killer. You think you have the wound taken care of, but then some sort of bacterial infection has leaked into your system and all of a sudden you have a really big problem.
     
    To prevent this, try out an Alcohol Pad or some other Antiseptic Agent that is going to kill the bacteria in and around the wound.
 
  • Pain Relievers - wounds that need treatment can be very painful. Having a dose of pain reliever can go a long way toward making you or whoever was injured feel better.

    Now, these are the basics so obviously, we’re not going to recommend getting anything too strong without a prescription.
 
  • Burn Cream - burn wounds can be extremely severe. If you are in a situation where you are dealing with a burn wound, your number one priority should be getting the victim to emergency medical personnel immediately.

    For small burns, a burn cream can be really helpful with relieving pain and expediting the healing process. This is essential to have in your first-aid kit, so add this to your list.
 
  • Tweezers - splinters are more than just a nuisance, they can lead to infections if not treated properly.

    If you don’t want to pack tweezers into the kit because you are comfortable using a safety pin instead, that is an option. However, a tweezer is much more effective at removing splinters than other options.
 
  • First-Aid Handbook - one item we include in all the first-aid kits in our home (and the ones we sell) is a manual on first aid techniques.  Written by Dr. Joseph Alton, this book breaks the complex into layman's terms.  Great book to carry with you. 
     
    Bottom line, you need to know how to treat the wound you are dealing with. But there are also situations that are even more serious.
     
    For instance, you could have someone dealing with a wound you are unsure how to care for and you need to know how to handle the situation without making it worse. 
     
    Having a good handbook will teach you how to do this. Be sure to review it regularly so you stay familiar with the information.
     
    For your convenience, we also have a pocket first aid guide that you can get here.


  • List of Emergency Personnel - we created a handy little guide for you to use to ensure quick communication with your family in various types of emergencies.
First responders 

It includes a list of ICE (In Case of Emergency) personnel that you can contact. We highly recommend getting that list here and filling it out as soon as possible.

  • Breathing Barrier - if you have been trained in CPR and plan to use your skills in an emergency situation, this is a “must have” for your first-aid kit.
     
    The breathing barrier protects you from any kind of fluids the victim may bring back up while you are performing CPR.

  • Bulb Suction Device - these can be very useful for flushing out a wound.  Any kind of bulb suction device can come in handy.

    You can fill these with water which you then squeeze into the wound to flush it out. This can be very useful for cleaning the wound before you wrap it with your gauze. 

  • Syringe - typically, we use syringes in conjunction with needles to inject medically necessary liquids into the body, but if you are going to do this then you need to be medically trained to do so.

    However, if you are wanting to give a child (or pet) their liquid medication orally, these can be used without the needle and be more effective than something like a spoon. A typical syringe will let you measure the liquid you are putting into it as well.

  • Eyewash Solution - your sight is one of your most important senses (if not the most important) so if you are experiencing a problem that has affected the eyes, you want to treat it immediately.
     
    Packing eyewash solution in your emergency kit is extremely important. You can use it to flush out any kind of foreign object that has been trapped there, or to relieve irritation as well.
     
    If you have experienced any kind of chemical contact with the eye, get to emergency personnel immediately. We strongly recommend that you have eyewash solution in your first-aid kit to provide emergency aid.

  • Important Family Documents - anything from bank account info to social security cards, an emergency situation might require you to have access to various family documents.

    We made an entire checklist of important family documents that you can get for free here.
     
    For a first-aid kit, the more important documents will be medical in nature, but we highly recommend getting all of the other ones together as well.

This list is fairly extensive but there are tons of other things you can add in as well, like:
   


Again -  your needs will be unique and you should adapt this kit according to your specific situation.
 
Some items you might not think are necessary (like safety pins), but some items you might want more of (like gauze or bandages). This is all up to you.
 
At the very minimum, you should have some type of first-aid kit. If you follow the guidelines above, you will be off to a good start.
 
Because the first moments after an accident happen are the most critical, responding quickly and correctly to any emergency situation puts you at a tremendous advantage.

At the same time, you might not want to spend the time rounding up all of these items yourself. In that case, we highly recommend you go get our trauma kit which has all of the essentials from above and will cover most first-aid type scenarios you might run into.


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