Emergencies can happen anywhere and anytime. It is therefore important that you and your family prepare for it. Having a well-kept first aid kit at home is a simple but essential step in emergency preparedness. Although it is possible to buy the first aid kits sold in stores, nothing prevents you from creating your own kit, especially since you can thus customize it according to the needs of the household.
Part 1 of 3: Choosing, storing and maintaining your kit
Step 1. Choose a suitable container
You can buy pre-filled or empty first aid kits, but you probably already have a suitable container at home.
- The ideal is to use a large transparent plastic box, waterproof, rigid or flexible and equipped with a closure or a latching lid. This makes it possible to see what's inside and you can easily make sure that everything is there.
- If you want a larger first aid kit where you can fit more stuff, a backpack or small tote will easily do the trick.
- Lunch boxes are another possible option. Basically, if it's big, easily accessible, transportable and a minimum of waterproof, it can make a perfect first aid kit.
- It must be possible to transport the kit to the accident site and a handle will therefore be essential.
- Sort the contents of the kit so that you can find everything easily. Zippered bags are great if you are looking for a non-rigid container. If you want a lunch box or other sturdy container, use smaller, clear plastic boxes like those for storing office supplies or even disposable food containers with a locking lid.
- Whatever container you choose, make sure it is easily identifiable. For example, you can write "FIRST AID" in a permanent marker on the box.
Step 2. Make sure the kit is easily accessible
When your child starts to cry from a knee injury, your kit should be close at hand and not hidden behind a cupboard or lost because you never put it back in the same place after each use.
- Store your first aid kit where it will be visible and easily accessible (for example, on the linen closet) and let the whole household know where it is.
- Tell the children where the kit is, but make sure they cannot touch it.
Step 3. Inform your relatives about the existence of the kit
Make sure that sufficiently responsible people in the house know how to use the first aid kit and have no problem finding it.
- For those who are still too young to use it, just show the location of the kit so they can point it out to a visitor, loved one, babysitter, etc. Make sure, however, that children cannot grab the box (for example, by putting it on a high cupboard).
- For sufficiently responsible adults and children, show them how to collect the kit and how to use its contents. Use a first aid training booklet, similar to those available on the French Red Cross website, to help you. Do not hesitate to place some in the kit so that you can take a quick look at it if needed.
Step 4. Regularly check the first aid kit
No one wants to see an empty bandage box or expired pain relievers when opening the first aid kit. Regularly check the amount of medication remaining and the expiration date of each product to deal effectively with emergencies.
You may have heard that smoke detector batteries need to be checked / replaced when daylight saving time begins and ends in spring and fall. This can be an opportunity to check the condition of your first aid kit and to restock it if necessary
Step 5. Create a checklist
Based on the advice listed in part two of this article, prepare your first aid kit and list all of its contents on a piece of paper that you will keep inside the box.
- Write down the amount (for example, 10 small dressings) and the expiration date (for medications and ointments) next to the items listed on your piece of paper.
- The aim is to allow anyone who uses the kit to immediately know what is in it and what is not, but also to know which products are immediately ready for use.
Part 2 of 3: complete the kit
Step 1. Put bandages on it
In case of cuts or scrapes, bandages of different sizes and types are what you absolutely must have in your kit. It will be easier for you to apply first aid if you have different dressings on hand.
- Put all the bandages in a transparent bag with closure that you will mark with a permanent marker. You must have:
- 25 adhesive bandages in different sizes
- 5 gauze compresses of 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm and 5 other compresses of 10 cm x 10 cm
- 1 roll of fabric tape
- 2 sterile dressings of 12.5 cm x 22.5 cm
- 1 roll of bandage 7.5cm wide and 1 roll 10cm wide (ACE bandage)
- 2 triangular bandages
Step 2. Put basic medical supplies in it
You should have enough to remove splinters, cut bandages and administer first aid without having to rummage through drawers. In another transparent bag with closure, put:
- small sharp scissors
- 2 pairs of latex-free gloves
- mercury-free oral thermometer
- cotton balls and swabs
- a respiratory mask for cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- an instant cold compress
- a first aid guide
- hand sanitizer
- wipes (for exterior cleaning)
- plastic bags with closure (to collect medical waste)
Step 3. Consider putting in other useful tools
If you still have room in your kit, put other useful tools (although not essential) that you will have previously placed in another bag marked as it should. Among other things, you will need:
- eye protection
- a metallic (heated) blanket
- an aluminum finger splint
- adhesive tape
- petroleum jelly
- a needle
- safety pins
- a pear (to dry the wounds)
Step 4. Create a separate section for drugs
Separate medications from dressings and tools after clearly marking them. Regularly check their expiration dates. Your first aid kit should include:
- aloe vera gel
- calamine lotion
- antidiarrhoeal drugs
- pain relievers (aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol)
- a hydrocortisone cream
- cough and cold medicine
Step 5. Personalize your kit
In your first aid kit, you should not forget the medicines that the different members of the household are taking. This is all the more important if you are creating a travel kit or kit that you plan to keep in the car. Put a small dose of each medicine (along with the dosage for each) in small, clear, labeled boxes.
- Regularly check the expiry dates of medicines.
- If anyone in the household has a severe allergy and needs to use an EpiPen, put one in the kit and remember the instructions for visitors to administer in an emergency.
- Even for home first aid kits, you should keep a small supply of medicine (like an antidote for bee stings) in case your doctor runs out.
Part 3 of 3: creating transportable first aid kits
Step 1. Always carry a travel / car first aid kit
You should have one first aid kit in your home and one in your car. Some vehicles are equipped with an original first aid kit, but nothing prevents you from adding your own medicines and products.
- The travel first aid kit is similar to the home kit, but you can add other items like: flashlight with batteries, waterproof matches, solar charger, hand crank for phones, sunscreen, bug spray, whistle, your doctor's phone numbers, poison control, etc. Also include medical discharge forms for each family member.
- The travel first aid kit should also be accessible. Do not store it in the spare tire under the trunk floor.
- Don't hesitate to search the Internet for more ideas.
Step 2. Create a camping first aid kit
Create a camping first aid kit if you plan to go camping. Again, you can do some research on the Internet to find out how to prepare your kit.
- The first aid kit for camping is similar to the one for the car, but you will need to add a good pair of scissors, waterproof matches, a metallic blanket, duct tape, a solar charger, hand crank for phones and a whistle.
- Also consider taking water purification tablets in case you have no choice but to drink water from a lake, river, etc.
Step 3. Prepare a first aid kit
Nothing beats a complete first aid kit that includes everything you need, but you can also pack a smaller, easily portable first aid kit that you will always have with you.
- To find out how to prepare a complete first aid kit, you can do some research on the Internet.
- Commercially available first aid kits contain one ointment, three wipes, two gas packs and 10 bandages. You can add small doses of the drugs you use the most to it to get a first aid kit that you can store in a purse, diaper bag, backpack, etc.
Step 4. Create a special first aid kit if needed
If any member of the household has specific medical needs, create a first aid kit specially designed for him or her.
- The allergy emergency kit is probably the most common example. Research the internet to find out what to put inside.
- For this kind of kit, use a small solid and waterproof box marked "KIT D'URGENCE EN CAS D'ALLERGIE" with the name of the person.
- Do not hesitate to consult a doctor to find out which drugs to include in the kit. Antihistamines (such as Benadryl), prednisone and EpiPen are the most commonly used.
- Plan two or more doses of extra medicine in case immediate medical intervention is not possible.
- Write / print clearly on a piece of sturdy paper (which you will laminate if possible) how and when to administer the drugs. Do not forget the doctor's phone number and all information about the patient (for example, allergies or others).
- Every six months, sort through your first aid kit to check the condition of the various products and their expiration date. Replace them if necessary.
- If any member of the household is pregnant, don't forget the vitamins and food supplements she will need during her pregnancy.
- You can save lives by learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid skills. The local Red Cross and other organizations can train you on this. Your kit will be of no use to you if you don't know how and when to use it.
- You can directly buy the first aid kits available on the market and put everything you need in a larger box (if necessary).
- Be careful what you use and don't let your items go out of date! This means regularly checking expiration dates and making sure everything is functional in an emergency.
- Make sure that anyone using the kit is not allergic to any of the products used.
- Wash tweezers, scissors and thermometers after each use. To be on the safe side, sterilize scissors and tweezers by passing them over a flame for a few seconds.
- Do not use products containing natural rubber latex. They may deteriorate over time and some people may be allergic to them.