First Aid Kits for Sports

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First Aid Kits for Sports

Injuries are a part of athletic training and competition. Thorough physical preparation on the part of an athlete, team, or coach may reduce the risk of injury, but such precautions will never guarantee that some form of physical emergency will not arise in the course of the event. The properly stocked first aid kit is as essential to safe sport as is any other item of equipment.

The utility of a particular first aid kit is dependent upon a number of factors, including that the kit contains all of the basic components necessary to administer basic first aid to anyone, in sufficient quantities for any anticipated occurrence, that there is the inclusion of the specific first aid materials related to the specific sport, and there is a familiarity with all of the contents of the first aid kit on the part of the person(s) responsible to assist in case of an injury.

First aid kits should be constructed of a sturdy, waterproof material to ensure that the adhesive materials it contains remain dry. To accommodate ice packs, the kit should have an insulated compartment. When a first aid kit is shared among various persons, it is essential that a regular inventory be taken of its contents. There are also components of the first aid kit, particularly medications such as anti-inflammatories and creams, that will have a "best before date" that should be adhered to. It is also important that all first aid materials are current and within the manufacturer's specifications for safe use.

The basic first aid kit typically will contain the following materials:

  • a first aid manual
  • bandages in a variety of sizes, shapes, and widths, including moleskin for blisters and abrasions
  • soft gauze bandages
  • hypoallergenic first aid tape, in a sealed dispenser
  • elastic bandages, to wrap and provide compression to the injured area or to secure an ice pack
  • elastic wrap, as a pad for athletic tape
  • triangular bandages to be fashioned into a sling or tourniquet
  • white athletic tape
  • nonstick gauze pads
  • antiseptic wipes and dispenser
  • antiseptic first aid cream
  • aloe or similar soothing topical cream product
  • two or three instant cold packs (chemically activated)
  • anti-inflammatory capsules such as extra strength ibuprofen products
  • anti-diarrheal product
  • scissors
  • thermometer
  • flashlight
  • mouthpiece to assist in the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • neoprene joint brace
  • tweezers, to assist in extracting foreign material from cuts and abrasions
  • snap-seal type plastic bags
  • energy bars and powdered electrolyte replacement drinks
  • sterile container or water bottle to mix sports drink fluid
  • cell phone and access number to local EMS and hospital
  • index inventory card for first aid kit
  • disposable gloves

For a first aid kit that will be accessible in support of outdoor pursuits, a supply of sunscreen, antihistamine, and an anti-allergy needle (often containing epinephrine) to be administered in case of a bee or other insect sting are important additions. If an athlete were to contract an outdoor poison (such as poison sumac or poison oak), calamine lotion or similar topical product can be carried.

Cold weather environments will pose special problems for the first aid provider. In addition to the structural injuries that may arise in outdoor athletic activities such as skiing or snowboarding, the risk of the athlete being subjected to excessive cold while receiving first aid assistance is considerable. Persons who are under stress or who are fatigued are more vulnerable to the effects of hypothermia, the physical condition that occurs when the core temperature of the body falls below 95°F (35°C). All first aid kits prepared for cold weather venues must also contain heat packs, a blanket, and other suitable protective equipment.

In support of endurance athletes, the availability of a fluid that replaces electrolytes, such as sodium or potassium, may assist in the relief of the effects of both hydration and low levels of these important minerals in the body.

A first aid kit in many sports is a natural extension of the treatment acronym, RICE (rest/ice/compression/elevation). In many instances of injury, this treatment will begin as soon as the athlete is sufficiently settled to receive first aid attention. In this regard, while the basic kit will contain a quantity of the chemically activated cold packs, to properly administer the RICE program, the first aid provider may require a greater quantity of cold power in intervals of 15-20 minutes of ice to the affected area, than is possible with the chemically activated ice packs. In sports where sprains are common, it is a useful practice to prepare a number of ice packs from natural ice and store them in an insulated carrier. Alternatively, reusable ice bags can be stored and accessed in the same fashion.

see also Abrasions, cuts, lacerations; Calf strain or pull; Cold-related illnesses and emergencies; Youth sports injuries.