The Family First-Aid Kit—What’s in Yours?

The Family First-Aid Kit—What’s in Yours?


A spilled glass of milk.  A broken toy.  A flat tire.  Family life is full of unexpected events, and most of the time a little cleanup, a little glue or a little air from the fill-up station is enough to get everyone back on track.  But, when someone in the family is injured, it’s not always so simple.

“Disasters can happen at any time, and being prepared—whether with training or physical supplies—is an important step to be able to provide immediate assistance,” says Tasha Mainvielle, Health and Safety Coordinator for the Hampton Roads chapter of The American Red Cross.

Many injuries can be treated effectively at home—small cuts, bee stings or sunburn, for example. For more serious emergencies, however, appropriate first aid needs to be administered before medical help arrives.

Don’t get caught off guard. “Getting a first-aid kit is the first step to being prepared,” says Mainvielle. Follow these guidelines to create a well-stocked, personalized first-aid kit for your family.

Start with the basics.

Each family’s first-aid kit will vary, depending on family size, ages and unique needs. Several companies sell basic first-aid kits, often available in the pharmacy area of your local discount store. If you build your own kit, use an airtight container and begin with the following basic items:

✓ Adhesive bandages

✓ Sterile dressing

✓ Sterile gauze pads

✓ Hand sanitizer

✓ Antiseptic wipes

✓ Non-latex gloves

✓ Adhesive tape

✓ Anti-bacterial ointment

✓ A cold pack

✓ Small scissors

✓ Tweezers

Consider special needs.

Infants and elderly or disabled family members may have special needs that should be considered when building your first-aid kit. Include any extra medications or equipment for these individuals as well as family members with chronic conditions such as diabetes or food allergies.

Include instructions.

Treatment for small cuts may be obvious, but less common injuries—such as burns or broken bones—can be more confusing. Tucking first-aid instructions into your kit can help children, babysitters or even panicked parents administer first aid correctly.  Include a small guide to basic first aid in your kit, like the American Red Cross First Aid and Emergency Preparedness Quick Reference Guide, available at the Red Cross Store online for less than $10.  Other online sites, such as,  offer free printable instructions on treating everything from animal bites to heatstroke.

Make it accessible.

Store your first-aid kit in a safe place that is out of the reach of very young children, but where elderly caregivers, babysitters or older children can access it easily.  Be sure that the latch or lid on the kit can be easily removed by an adult or older child.

Talk to your family.

Make sure each family member knows where the first-aid kit is stored, what it contains and how to use it in case of emergency.  Families should walk through several scenarios in order to practice basic first-aid skills, familiarize family members with the kit’s contents and present an opportunity for kids to ask questions.  Remind family members that not every injury can be properly treated with the first-aid kit and that when serious accidents occur, calling 911 is the best thing to do.

Create a few portable kits.

Skinned knees, scrapes and splinters—families with young children can bet on the fact that they will frequently need a bandage, ice pack or antibiotic ointment for the bumps and bruises of everyday life.  While your family’s primary first-aid kit may accompany you on a camping trip or extended vacation, stowing a small collection of first-aid supplies in the car and your travel bag is a good idea for shorter trips.

According to Kathy Conaty, a Virginia Beach mother of two young children; “We traveled a lot for about two years and my diaper bag was like my first-aid bag.  I always kept medicine for the kids in it. And I also kept a little extra cash, in case I needed to stop and get something.”  Fill several re-sealable bags with the basics and store one in each car and in a diaper bag or a beach bag, if needed.  If traveling by air, remember that any gels or liquids in your first-aid kit—commonly found in ice packs, ointments or hand cleaners—will not be allowed on board without special permission.

Restock and refresh.

Ointment can expire, supplies can dwindle and your family’s needs can change.  Avoid getting caught without the proper supplies by restocking your first-aid kit every three to four months or after each use.  Mark your calendar or connect your refresh efforts with quarterly events, such as changing seasons or report cards.

Need more information?  Explore these other first-aid resources. First Aid.  Instructional videos on first-aid topics, along with newsworthy articles and blogs, make this site an extremely helpful resource. 

American Red Cross. American Red Cross chapters offer first-aid resources and training, including CPR.

Southeastern Virginia Chapter

611 West Brambleton Ave., Norfolk, VA 23510-1004, (757) 446-7700 or online at,

Hampton Roads Chapter

4915 W. Mercury Blvd., Newport News, VA 23605, (757) 838-7320 or

Ready America, Created by the Department of Homeland Security, this web site offers ideas on what to include in a first-aid kit, as well as how to prepare for a variety of emergencies.

CINDRICH, S. M. (2009, February). The Health Journal. Retrieved December 24, 2012, from 



About MzMaDeA

I am but a single bud among my many roses/thorns/diamonds.

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