Your Essential First Aid Kit
Following our last post about ways to have a healthy summer, Dr Manu Chaudhary now shares the essential components of a first aid kit. Keep one handy at all times as it’s your go-to for fixing the little cuts, scrapes and injuries that are almost an inevitable part of childhood.
A pre-made first aid kit is the cheapest and easiest option to start off with because otherwise, it can be difficult to find small packages of all the different kinds of gauze, tape, and antibiotic ointment you will need. Find a large kit with a sturdy container with extra space to hold all the things you will add to it.
- TIP – Get a small duffle bag or backpack to keep your first-aid kit, and start by putting the pre-made kit in the bag. Be sure the pre-made kit includes Band-Aids, gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, and anti-itch or steroid ointment.
Next, add the following:
- Water bottle for cleaning out wounds: The first thing you’ll need to do with a hurt kid is clean out their wound. And the nearest water source may be too far to walk. You can use your water bottle to treat dehydration, too.
- Benadryl (Diphenhydramine): Benadryl is probably the most important over-the-counter medication to have in your first aid kit—it’s a first-line treatment for insect bites, hives, and other allergic reactions that can be deadly. Some premade kits will include Benadryl tablets, but if you have young children be sure to include a bottle of liquid, Children’s Benadryl or the generic equivalent. Benadryl is also a great treatment for an attack of seasonal allergies.
- EpiPen: If you have a family member with a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), ask your physician for a prescription. Keep in outside pocket of first aid kit for quick, easy access.
- Numbing spray: Wound numbing spray can be purchased over-the-counter at any pharmacy and can save-the-day when a child is burned, sunburned, or has a painful cut or scrape. Eg. Lignox spray (5% lidocaine)
- Prescription medication: Ask your physician for an extra prescription for any medication you frequently use, especially asthma and allergy medications. Keep the additional supply in your car first-aid kit.
- Ibuprofen and paracetamol: Most pre-made kits include these standard pain medications, but you will have to add the liquid kind for children.
- Nausea medication: There’s an easy fix for vomiting, car sick kids—nausea medication. Don’t leave home without it. Eg. Dramamine for kids (from RPG)
- Sunblock: Have a 30+ sunblock ready to cover those little spots on ears and neck that hat doesn’t cover. Include some SPF lip balm or ChapStick, too.
- Bug spray: The best protection comes from a repellant that contains 30% DEET. Insect bites if scratched multiple times can be a source of skin infection.
- Hydrocortisone ointment: This inexpensive over-the-counter medication will treat almost anything that itches—insect bites, poison ivy, etc. If you stop the itch, the kids won’t scratch, and you reduce the risk of secondary infection.
- Flashlight/headlamp: If you don’t have a reliable light on your cell phone, including an LED flashlight or headlamp.
- Baby wipes: Even if your kids are out of diapers, a pack of baby wipes is infinitely useful in the car, especially for keeping hands clean and wiping noses.
- ChapStick: ChapStick or lip balm can soothe cold sores, lip injuries, and sunburned lips in addition to regular chapped lips.
- Clean towel: A nice clean towel is perfect for setting up your first-aid station while you dress a wound or remove a splinter. It’s also useful for containing bleeding on more significant injuries. Consider a highly absorbent microfiber towel that can be stuffed into a small space.
- Feminine hygiene supplies: Besides their apparent uses, tampons and maxi pads are beneficial for wound management and are an essential part of any first aid kit. Did you know that the modern tampon was invented in the 1800’s for management of bullet wounds? An OB-style tampon can very effectively treat a persistent nosebleed. The smallest OB tampons fit nicely in the nose. Bleeding wounds can be easily controlled with a maxi-pad held in place with an ace wrap.
- Premade finger splint: Not sure if that finger is broken or not? Just put it in a pre-made finger splint until you get your child to the doctor. You can buy premade finger splints at any pharmacy.
- Alcohol wipes: These can be used for sterilizing first aid kit instruments, such as tweezers and scissors. They are also useful for cleaning skin before trying to remove splinters.
- ACE bandage: Although a first-line treatment for sprains and strains, ACE bandages are also useful for holding bandages in place on bigger wounds, and holding splints on fractures.
- Small scissors: For cutting dressings to the right size, cutting medical tape, opening packages, trimming fingernails and hangnails, etc.
- A bottle of Gatorade/ WHO ORS packets: Very useful for hypoglycemia (low sugar level in blood), dehydration, etc. Also useful as an occasional bribe for an over-tired, hungry child.
- Ziploc bags: Ziplocs are essential for keeping track of teeth that fall out or ticks that are removed (use a credit card to scrap off the tick from child’s skin).
- Tweezers & small magnifying glass: These can be used for removing splinters, but occasionally they are necessary to remove bugs from ears, fishing hooks from fingers, etc.
Dr. Manu Chaudhary
MBBS (AFMC, Pune) | MD Pediatrics (FAAP, USA)
Infectious Diseases Specialist (ABP certified, USA)