First Aid Kit

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First Aid Kit

Definition

The first aid kit is a portable container of medicines, supplies, and information. It is kept for situations in which quick medical attention is needed for minor injuries.

Purpose

A first aid kit is used to treat minor illnesses and injuries in or outside the home, thereby reducing the risk of complications from minor injuries.

Description

The American College of Emergency Physicians recommends that every home have a first aid kit to respond to common medical emergencies. The contents of a well-stocked kit should include the following items:

  • thermometers for infants, children, and adults
  • rubbing alcohol to clean tweezers, needles, and thermometers
  • tweezers and needles to remove slivers and ticks
  • adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • sterile gauze pads (2×2, 4×4, and 5×9 inches)
  • non-adherent dressings, as burns or abrasions need a non-stick dressing
  • triangular bandage to make a sling or use as a tourniquet
  • elastic bandage to support a sprain
  • safety pins to fasten bandages
  • medical tape to affix a gauze pad to a large wound
  • plastic resealable bag
  • scissors
  • CPR shield
  • butterfly closures to pull the edges of small wounds together
  • latex gloves
  • medicine dropper to administer medicine to children medicine spoon
  • petroleum jelly to lubricate rectal thermometers for infants under one year old
  • heating pad/hot water bottle
  • tongue depressors
  • antiseptic wipes to cleanse hands or wounds
  • cotton-tipped swabs for cleaning wounds
  • iodine swabs for cleaning around a wound
  • topical calamine lotion or antihistamine cream for allergies, insect bites, and rashes
  • acetaminophen in appropriate doses for infants, children, and adults
  • cough suppressant to relieve coughing in appropriate doses for infants, children, and adults
  • antibacterial cream
  • oral rehydration fluid for the treatment of diarrhea
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellent
  • first aid manual
  • an emergency information list

Operation

The items in the kit can be stored in a box or a tote bag where adult members of a family or other group know where it is located. The kit should be stored out of reach of children, and products should have child safety caps. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for the correct use of medications and supplies.

The kit should be compact enough to be transported in a car, suitcase, or rucksack if traveling.

Maintenance

The kit should be inspected monthly to ensure that the contents are not damaged or out of date.

Health care team roles

All members should have knowledge of the appropriate use of all equipment and medication, and the ability to recognize situations in which immediate medical attention is required. The emergency information list should include the following:

  • telephone numbers of family physicians and pediatricians
  • the regional Poison Control Center number
  • numbers of local police, fire, and ambulance services

In addition, a list should be compiled of any allergies that a family or team member has, and the treatment required.

Training

Adults with access to the first aid kit should have an understanding of the first aid manual and the correct use of all medications and equipment. Attendance at a course in basic first aid will enable them to respond quickly and appropriately to any emergency, equipping them with knowledge of life-threatening situations and the first aid treatment to be given. At least one person in every large group should be trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

KEY TERMS

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)— A series of steps to establish normal breathing following cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Resources

BOOKS

Schmitt, B.D. "First Aid Kit." Clinical Reference Systems Annual. 2000, p. 670.

ORGANIZATIONS

American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). 1125 Executive Circle, Irving, TX 75038. (800) 798-1822.

American Red Cross. For information on first aid courses contact the Red Cross. Look in the phone book for your nearest office or email [email protected]