If you’ve ever had to go on a frantic search for Band-Aids while a tearful kiddo is hyperventilating, sure that scrape on their knee will cause them to lose a limb, you know how important having a First Aid Kit is. But did you know that a change in seasons means you should be changing things up in your kit? We’ve sought some expert advice on what you should have in the family First Aid Kit.
Tim Reel is a retired Fire Chief, Emergency Medical Technician and first responder with over 40 years of experience. He’s agreed to give us an easy list of things every summer First Aid Kit should have.
So where do we start? Most importantly the Chief stresses that you should always have a minimum of two kits; one for the house and one kept in the car. One of the least expensive ways to get started is buying a pre-made kit for your foundation items. Look for kits that contain at least a minimum of;
- Antibiotic Ointment (like Neosporin)
- Band-Aids (be sure there are several sizes)
- Anti-Itch Treatment
- Alcohol Swabs
- Fabric Bandages
- Safety Pins
- ACE Bandage
It is relatively to find kits that contain these items both in stores and online. Now to add to the kit for summer.
First things first, be sure you have a container big enough to hold everything. That may mean that the box or bag your kit came in needs replacing. Ideally the kit should be waterproof and easy to grab and go with. Some ideas for that, include: insulated reusable shopping bags with zippers, waterproof canvas bags or backpacks, air tight portable tool boxes.
Now that you’ve got the right container, here is what you may want to add to your at-home kit;
EpiPen - Many people have a history of severe allergic reactions and some may be allergic and not know it. Anaphylaxis is the term used for these potentially life-threatening reactions. If someone in your home has severe allergies like this talk to your doctor who can give you a prescription for an EpiPen or Auvi-Q. Be sure to get instruction in the proper use of this rescue device.
Numbing Spray - The Chief cautions that this shouldn't’t be used for burns, but it can come in handy for numbing the pain of cuts and scrapes so that they can be attended to.
Sunscreen - Yep, extra sunscreen is a must-have.
Lip Balm - Not just for kissable lips, balm soothes sunburnt, dry and/or cracked lips.
Emergency Blanket - Sometimes called ‘Survival’ or ‘Safety’ blankets these are those weird things that look like an uninflated mylar balloons. They are First Aid kit essentials anytime and everywhere. Used to care for those in shock, protect against cold and even cool you down when overheated, you need these.
CPR Shield - This is a simple tool with a powerful job. It helps protect both the person administering mouth-to-mouth and the recipient.
CPR Instructions - Even if you’ve been CPR certified for years it’s still helpful to have this on hand in an emergency.
Tweezers - Essential when removing things like broken glass, burrs, splinters and such. (my little brother had to have rocks removed from his nose. Yes, more than one rock, more than one time. Because, boys.)
Magnifying Glass - Helpful when you have a small splinter to go after.
Splint - No, you don’t have to tape sticks together like back in Scouts. Pick up a ready-made splint at any drugstore and put it in the kit. Not sure if that finger or toe is sprained or broken? Splint it, then head to Urgent Care.
ZipLoc Bags - Perfect for packing a tooth or digit for transport to the ER. Got ticks? If you pull one off you may want to save it for identification. All ticks are gross, some are carriers for nasty diseases.
Now that you’re ready for almost any bump, bruise or emergency at home what is it you’ll need when you go on the road? Chief Reel advises that all of the summer extras should be in your car kit year round. In addition to those you’ll also need;
Water - You might think that water bottles would fit the bill here but Chief Reel recommends less bulky and easier to pack Datrex Water Pouches. He advises that these not only take up less space they’re also lighter to carry and if you need to leave your car, that matters. If you're stranded water is going to be the most essential item in your kit. We all need it to survive!
Small Flashlight - A solar powered one may be your best option.
Cloth Sun Hat (one for each member of the family) - These roll up easily for storage and both protect you from the sun and cool you off in the heat - when wet.
Protein Bars - If you get lost or stuck in the middle of nowhere the petrified fries under the car seat may end up looking like an option if you don’t prepare. Chief Reel says to look beyond Clif bars and instead look at higher calorie, more nutrient dense options that come well sealed, like; S.O.S and Mayday survival bars.
Safety Flares - To signal for help.
Baby Wipes - These are a multi-use wonder.
Collapsible Umbrella - Protects from both the sun and the elements.
Saline Solution - For washing out wounds.
Bug Spray - If you have to leave your car and trek to civilization you’ll be far more comfortable if the bugs are not’t making a meal out of you.
It may sound like that’s a whole lot of trunk space to take up, but if you should ever need it you’ll be glad you did. And if you pack properly it really won’t take up that much space.
Another tip from The Chief is to be sure to check your kit often to see what might need to be replenished or replaced. These are just a few of the essentials, you can always add more. There are some great resources out there for building the ‘ultimate’ First Aid kit. A good place to start is The Red Cross. As always, you know your family best if there is something missing from this list that you know you'll need, by all means add it.
Have a happy and SAFE summer CertifiKID families!
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