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First aid is medical care that is done right away at the site of the injury or illness. It may be done as a short-term treatment until emergency care arrives or it may be the only treatment you need. Examples of conditions you can treat with first aid include cuts and bruises, burns, and pain. You don’t need to be certified or trained in first aid, but it helps to have some basic knowledge and training.
First Aid Kit Essentials
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Red Cross, a well-stocked first aid kit should have the essential tools you need to give first aid for common medical problems. You should have a first aid kit at home and you should have one when you travel, camp, or go boating. You can buy a first aid kit or you can make your own. Make sure you have these essentials:
- A first-aid guide and a list of essential contacts
- Two absorbent 5 x 9-inch dressing pads
- Assorted adhesive band-aids, at least 25
- Ten yards of one-inch adhesive tape
- Packaged antiseptic wipes
- Packs of antibiotic ointment
- Aspirin packets
- An emergency warming blanket
- Ice packs that cool when activated
- Nonlatex gloves
- Rolled bandages, 4-inch and 3-inch
- Sterile gauze pads, 4 x 4-inch
- Triangular bandages used to make an arm sling
- A thermometer, digital not mercury
- Tweezers and scissors
You can find a first aid kit and first aid instruction guides at this Red Cross website.
Essential Medication Checklist to Have at Home
Over-the-counter medications are available for treatment of allergies, pain, fever, cold symptoms, cuts, burns, diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, itching and rash. There are many brands and options, so ask your health care provider or pharmacist for advice. Make sure to read the directions and be aware of possible side effects. Here are some types of OTC medications to keep on hand:
- An oral antihistamine can be used for allergy or itching. Some types may also be used for dizziness or motion sickness.
- A topical antihistamine may be used for a rash, along with a steroid cream or ointment.
- Acetaminophen may be used for pain or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine for pain or fever like ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Cough and cold medications may include a decongestant, cough suppressant, or a medicine that thins mucus, called guaifenesin, or a combination product. Saline nasal sprays may help with nasal congestion.
- Antibiotic ointment is good for skin cuts or minor infections.
- Hydrogen peroxide or alcohol may be used as disinfectants.
- For heart burn there are several types of OTC antacids.
- For constipation there are several types of laxatives.
- Other OTCs can help with indigestion and diarrhea.
Store your OTC medications along with any prescription medications in a safe place and check to make sure none of your medications have expired. Keep all medications out of the reach of children. Keep your medication in the original packaging so you know the meds you are taking and safety-lock bottles will work. If you are taking any controlled medications, keep them locked away.
Finally, make sure you dispose of any unused controlled medications safely. Ask your pharmacy if there is a drug take-back program available. If there is not a take-back program at your pharmacy, hospital, or community center, find a take-back site at this Drug Enforcement Administration website.