First Aid Kits and Emergency Aid

College of DuPage Nursing Student Robert Sullivan shared that with the return to school and the start of fall sports, now is the perfect time to review a current first aid kit or to make one. Very often, the first people on the scene are bystanders and not the First Responders. Having and maintaining a first aid kit and becoming trained in first aid, will equip one to be more than a bystander but a responder. There are many items that will be helpful if the situation for response occurs, starting with what is applicable for a family of four according to the American Red Cross (American Red Cross, 2021). These items include:

  • A first aid guide
  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets
  • 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 pairs of non-latex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
  • 1 3-inch gauze roll (roller) bandage
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 3 x 3-inch sterile gauze pads
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • A thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers

Items to be added to the list if severe bleeding control is necessary include a commercial tourniquet, felt tip pen, bandages, quick clot dressings, and of course, training to use these items. When a bleeding emergency happens, seconds may be the difference between saving someone’s life and merely knowing what to use and how to use it, but not implementing the use of this equipment.

It is important to take time to customize the first aid kit to the family’s specific needs. For those who have heart conditions, diabetes, or a severe allergy, these conditions all require different medication in the event of an emergency. For example, if a severe allergy exists, antihistamine medications and an epinephrine injector should be available and inside the kit.

Once the kit is prepared, it needs to be maintained. The items and medications in the kit need to be checked for the expiration date and replaced once expired. Pick a time of year that can be remembered easily, then look through the first aid kit and replace whichever items are unnecessary. This is also a good time to restock low inventory items, those that were already used in previous situations.

A final note is to remember that having all the items available does not guarantee their proper and effective use, rather, without proper training, they are useless. To be prepared to administer first aid,

it is necessary to take first aid training and have hands-on practice with a first aid kit. According to the American Red Cross, “You Are the Help Until the Help Arrives”, so “Stop the Bleed” by offering effective quality training.


American Red Cross. (n.d.). Make a First Aid Kit. Supplies & Contents | American Red Cross. Retrieved September 9, 2021, from





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