Everyone should have a first aid kit readily available. Preferably, you should have first aid kits in different locations so they are accessible no matter the situation. When you are building your kit or considering which one to purchase, there are several ways to determine the right kit for your needs.

Start With The Basics

The first aid kit you choose or assemble should start with a water-resistant case, such as a zippered nylon bag or metal tin. This will reduce the chances of the contents becoming damaged during a storm or other unforeseen circumstances, which could render the contents unusable. A small, laminated pamphlet that contains information on CPR, AED usage, and basic first aid can also come in handy. Even people who are certified in these areas but do not perform first aid regularly may forget this information in an emergency.

Have a CPR mask readily available in your first aid kit, which should be latex-free. Some basic first aid supplies includes gauze pads. When you are limited on space, just include the largest pads, which can be folded for smaller wounds. Additionally, include medical tape to hold down the gauze, and make sure it can be torn by hand so scissors are not necessary. You should also include at least one pair of nitrile gloves, which are preferred over latex since the person rendering care or the injured person may have a latex allergy. Add a few OTC medications that can be used to provide comfort for someone in pain. Your kit should include chewable aspirin, which is useful for a suspected heart attack. For pain relief, ibuprofen and acetaminophen are preferred and can be given to children. The antihistamine diphenhydramine can help for insect stings or other allergic reactions.

Add To Your Kit Based On Location

Although every kit should have basic first aid supplies, you may need additional items depending on where the kit will be located. For example, you should have a separate kit for your car that includes first aid items and other items you will need if you are lost or have a car accident, especially during bad weather. You should have a couple of bottles of spring or distilled water on hand to prevent dehydration, especially during the warmer months. During the cooler months, your first aid kit should have a blanket and packets of hand warmers. These items can also be used to keep a person warm during a medical emergency and to reduce the chance of them going into shock. Many first aid kits for the car also have water-resistant items, such as a poncho and sleeping bag. These items can be critical to prevent hypothermia if an emergency occurs when it is cold and rainy.

The kit you have at home might be more elaborate and should be kept in a safe place, such on a bookshelf, so it won't be affected if your home were to flood. For this first aid kit, you might want a small pair of scissors, disposable thermometers, and tweezers. It should also contain a small flashlight, ideally one with long-lasting batteries, extra batteries, and a magnifying glass. The basic supplies in your household kit can have a wider variety of sizes, such as gauze pads ranging from small to extra-large. Antiseptic cream and pain-relieving spray can be useful in your household kit as well.

Maintain Your Kits

Since the average person may rarely need their first aid kit, it is even more important to set a schedule for checking items to ensure nothing has expired or needs to be replaced. You might use the calendar on your phone to set a reminder for the first of every year to go through each first aid kit and replenish supplies. For medications and ointments, it is often easier, but more expensive, to purchase individual packs for use in your first aid kit. They will have an expiration date on the back, and you do not have to worry about the product losing its effectiveness if it has been opened.

If your first aid kits include medications that were removed from their original container, replace the medicines at least yearly. This is also the time you should check to make sure any items that require batteries work and replacement batteries have not expired. You may need to check the first aid kit in your car more often. Since the trunk of your car can experience extreme temperatures, some items may break down faster and become brittle or otherwise unusable.

Having at least one first aid kit readily available can give you a feeling of comfort if an emergency were to occur. Keep a wide variety of supplies and maintain your kit to ensure you can safely handle most situations.