I never buy commercial first aid kits. They either contain too much junk I’ll never use, too little of what I will use, are too expensive, or all three at the same time!
I like inexpensive and effective.
Luckily, it’s not that hard to build a decent first aid kit without breaking the bank, having to go to EMT training, or sacrifice quality.
Start by identifying your basic needs. What does your kit need to treat? Where are you going to carry it? How tough does it need to be? Who are you going to help with it, and for how long? I have one kit for my trunk, another for my closet, and I carry basic necessities in my purse, sans case.
Once you know what you want to treat, who you are using it for, and where you are carrying it, break it down a little farther.
Basic medical needs include wound care, illness treatment, and protection against germs.
Therefore, you want to pick good things to clean a wound or irritated area with, like alcohol, peroxide, wet wipes, saline, etc.
You need gloves to protect your hands – nitrile is good to prevent latex allergy and you can get them cheaply at any drug store and even most dollar stores.
You need something to treat and cover wounds with, such as antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape, band aids, etc.
You need to be able to treat basic health issues – allergies, diarrhea, pain, inflammation, and nausea at a minimum. Luckily, that’s easy and cheap to do.
You can safely ignore useless items like tiny band aids, itty-bitty alcohol wipes that dry out quickly and are useless anyway, or anything that comes in a quantity too tiny to use. That’s what makes up half of the commercial first aid kits I’ve seen.
Finally, you need cutting implements for dealing with tape and gauze, as well as a tweezers and a good container to put everything in. That container should be sturdy and organize things well. I use a small backpack in my trunk and plastic tubs in my closet. Tackle boxes and tool bags are good too.
Here are some suggested kit items for Car, Closet, and Pocket. You will find that they are quite available at your local 99 cent only store, Dollar Tree, grocery store, and pharmacy. Buy generics freely except for the Neosporin – that truly is better in the brand name.
Bottled water or saline
Epsom Salts – for foot soaks or as a laxative
Calcium based Antacid – for both helping stomach trouble and for muscle cramps
Aspirin – anti-fever and pain treatment
Neosporin or similar ointment
Anti itch gel – I like Calamine lotion, and Benadryl anti-itch gel.
Allergy medicine – Benadryl or generic (good for treating allergies and as a sleep aid)
Other medicines for diarrhea, nausea, allergies, pain, etc
Band-aids, including butterfly bandages, 2 inch giant bandages, etc
Gauze – both squares and roll gauze
Tape – both medical and athletic, plus at least one Ace bandage
A good, sharp knife
A flashlight for seeing dark areas of the body
Plastic tubs or tackle boxes to put it in
For your car, you can pack smaller versions of most of the above and put it in a day pack for easy carry. Some bulky items can be left out or reduced. I wouldn’t worry about the epsom salts, for example, but would replace them with a portable ice pack. Focus more on wound care and cleaning items. Rotate items regularly since everything is being exposed to extremes of temperature.
An Altoids tin with a few aspirin, a couple allergy pills, some band aids, and a wet wipe or two is good for starters. That with your pocket knife can go a long way.
This has been a very basic overview of the beginnings of creating a first aid kit. I wanted to give you a start, and if there’s interest I’ll go much more in depth in the future.
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