While it is not essential that every home has a first aid kit, having one is a sensible and practical option for most people. Your first aid kit does not have to be in a specific location or in a purpose built container. You can assemble and stock your own first aid kit yourself.
It makes sense to keep the bulk of the items for a first aid kit in a single location. This could be the bathroom, kitchen or utility room. These rooms are ideal as they usually have a supply of clean running water.
It is also a good idea to place your first aid kit items in a plastic container with a lid. Metal containers can rust, which will make the lid difficult to remove and could lead to particles of rust being transferred to an open wound.
To stock your first aid kit, a trip to the supermarket or pharmacy is required. You may decide to purchase a ready-made first aid kit to start with. This is a good idea, but you will almost certainly find that it includes items you never use, and lacks items you really need.
Starting with the hardware of a first aid kit, you will need a small pair of scissors, some tweezers, and some safety pins. Tweezers are useful for removing stings and small fragments of debris from open wounds. You may also want to include a small magnifying glass as well, although it is wise to consult a doctor if you think a wound has debris in it smaller than you can see with the naked eye.
The scissors can be used to cut tape and sticking plasters, and the safety pins are for holding a bandage closed at the end. Some people prefer to close a bandage by tying it in a knot, or by using tape instead of safety pins, particularly on small children.
Although you can purchase packets of pre-cut sticking plasters in a variety of sizes, it is also a good idea to have a roll or packet of sticking plaster that you can cut to the size you require. Some individuals are allergic to the adhesive on a conventional sticking plaster, so try to have a hypo-allergenic kind in your first aid kit.
Bandages come in all shapes and sizes and it may be difficult to decide which to include in your first aid kit. Try to remember that first aid means doing the basics to stabilise an individual’s condition in order to move them to see a specialist if necessary. You will not need enough equipment to set up a field hospital in your first aid kit.
It is a good idea to have 2 or 3 rolls of bandage, approximately 3 inches (8cm) wide. A length of tubular bandage is also useful as this gives support rather than holding a dressing in place. A large triangle or square of linen should also be included to be used as a sling to immobilise an arm if necessary.
Along with the bandages, you should include some gauze and some cotton wool or packing. These should be in sterile packs and only opened when needed. A supply of latex gloves is also a good idea.
Some anti-septic ointment or lotion is a good idea, as well as some anti-histamine cream to reduce itching. An eye bath with sterile eye wash is a useful addition to a first aid kit.
Once your first aid kit is stocked, remember to check the use by dates on all items and replace as necessary.