Your first aid kit: What to keep in it to protect your family

The weather is finally warming up – time to fire up the grill, start mowing the lawn again (groan), and hang out with family and friends in the backyard. While we love warm weather and spending time outside, we see an increase in cuts, scrapes, and outdoor play-related injuries in summer time.

Whether the kiddos bump heads running around the yard, trip and fall on concrete, or get a nasty cut, you need to be prepared. While a scraped knee is incredibly traumatic to your 5-year-old, there’s no need to visit the emergency room.

To take care of scraped knees and minor wounds, you need a properly stocked first aid kit, and you need to know how to use it. Below is our complete guide to building a a well-stocked first aid kit. Note: this guide is based on a family of four; increase supplies if you have more family members.

Where should I keep the first aid kit?

The American Red Cross recommends keeping a first aid kit in your home and in your car. That way you’re always prepared, whether playing at home or at the park.

Make sure your entire family knows where the first aid kit is in your house. We recommend keeping it in an easy-to-reach location on the first floor or your home. The kitchen or bathroom would be a good place. Teach younger children that the first aid kit should always be put back where it was found and that it is not a toy.

Let overnight guests know where the first aid kit is should they need it. Better safe than sorry.

What should be in the first aid kit?

Before you start adding any other supplies, you need to make sure the first aid kit has all prescribed emergency medications for you family members, such as an EpiPen or inhaler. While duplicate medications can be expensive, it’s safer have multiples instead of risking an allergic reaction while out for the day without an EpiPen in the first aid kit.

From there, we recommend keeping a list of emergency phone numbers, such as your family doctor and emergency contacts. If possible, get the list laminated to keep it dry and legible.

As for supplies for minor wounds and injuries, we think the list from the American Red Cross is bar-none. We’ve shared their list below and you can find it on their website.

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers

The Red Cross also suggests including their first aid instruction booklet; however, we think you should also take a first aid/CPR course to ensure you’re fully prepared. Reynolds offers community CPR classes. Contact us to learn more!

They also have a fantastic app available for iPhone and Android. While you should already know the information in the app (such as CPR), it is a quick and easy reminder when you feel panicked in an emergency situation.

Maintaining your first aid kit

It’s not necessary to replace every bandaid used in your first aid kit. But you do need to replace items such as the cold compress and breathing barrier straight away.

We suggest adding a recurring event to your calendar, say the last Sunday of every month, to check your first aid kit. Replace any used supplies and make it a point to check the expiration dates of any ointments or medications.

When is first aid an emergency?

It can be hard to know when a cut or injury requires professional medical attention, especially when your little one has a flair for the dramatic arts.

Most minor knee scrapes can heal with some antibiotic ointment, a bandaid, and a popsicle. Cuts that won’t stop bleeding, swelling that doesn’t subside within a few hours, or burns that blister within a few minutes need the attention of a doctor.

Teaching children about the difference between something hurting and being injured is important. When they know that a scrape hurts, but they are not injured, they can communicate this to you. The word “injured” should be used only when they’re experiencing extreme pain. When you see people with broken bones in movies, say that a person is injured. When you see another child fall down at the park and scrape a knee, say that child is hurt.

It’s also important to give your children time to react by themselves. If they fall down, give them space to get back up and dust themselves off. If they don’t and they’re crying, it’s time for you to step in.

While parents mean well, rushing to a child, panicking, and asking if they’re OK makes them feel like something is wrong. Remaining calm is crucial to your child being able to process and communicate their accident to you.

Reynolds Rapid Care

Still unsure if you need further medical attention? If in doubt, be safe, not sorry. For acute or non-emergent needs, visit Reynolds Rapid Care at 215 Lafayette Avenue in Moundsville.

Rapid Care is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

No appointments are necessary, and your co-pay is the same as at your primary care physician’s office.

For emergencies, our Emergency Room is at 800 Wheeling Avenue in Glen Dale and is always open!