Stocking your first-aid kit
Essentials for your family's first-aid kit, useful products and helpful tips
You've probably got a first-aid kit tucked away somewhere in your home but once you have children it's likely to see far more action than before and you'll need a few different items specifically for them. You'll also need to be sure it's child-friendly in terms of where and how you store it. Plastic tool / tackle boxes can work well with plenty of sections to store items where you can quickly get to them, but the most important thing is that the box can't be opened by young children and is stored out of their reach.
You'll need a main first aid kit at home and should also carry a smaller one in your car. A travel version is also an essential item to take with you on holiday.
What you need
Antiseptic wipes - preferably alcohol-free.
- Distilled water - for use as an eye bath (to clear something out of the eye or soothe irritation) and to clean wounds.
- Thermometer - digitals give the fastest and most fuss-free readings.
- Liquid soap -a mild one that is suitable for children.
- Cotton wool - to bathe wounds.
- Tweezers - to remove splinters and ticks
- Sterile gauze - in dressing pads of small, medium and large.
- Sterile eye dressings
- Bandage rolls - in different sizes.
- A triangular bangage - many uses such as for head wounds, knee wounds and to make a sling.
- Elastic bandage
- Plasters - you'll need these in a in a variety of sizes and shapes.
- Hypoallergenic dressing tape / zinc oxide tape
- Sting and bite treatment
- Antiseptic hand gel - to use to sterilise your own hands before treating a wound.
- Scissors - for cutting bandages, gauze and/or clothes in the event of a burn.
- Safety pins - for securing bandages
- Disposable sterile gloves
- Calendula cream - for skin rashes (including nappy rash), haemorrhoids, burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they may cause.
- Calamine lotion / cream, or similar - to relieve itching caused by stings, diseases (such as chicken pox), allergies, skin disorders etc.
- Antiseptic cream - such as Savlon, TCP, Germolene, or a 'natural' antiseptic product based on tea tree or lavendar.
- Antihistamine tablets to treat mild allergic reactions. If you know your child has a severe allergy then make sure you have back-up supplies of the appropriate treatment.
- Painkillers - infant paracetemol is used as a painkiller and to lower high temperatures. Painkillers for adults include paracetemol, aspirin (not to be given to children) and Ibuprofen.
- Rehydration salts
- Cough medicine
- Decongestant tablets
- Insect repellant - one suitable for children
- Prescription medicines - keep spares of any medication a family member needs to use frequently, such as for asthma and allergies.
- List of emergency phone numbers - doctor, local casualty unit, A&E and names and numbers of a couple of reliable neighbours for if someone caring for your children in your home needs help. You can tape it to the lid of your first-aid box.
- First-aid manual - keep a first aid manual on or near your first-aid kit and take time to familiarise yourself with it
Nice to have
- Hot / warm gel pack - use chilled to ease swelling and bruising after a bump or to reduce inflammation on a graze, or warm to soothe aches and stiffness. You can keep a gel pack ready to go in the fridge (it's faster to warm it up than to cool it down).
- Witch Hazel - to relieve irritation caused by minor cuts, scrapes, sunburn and insect bites and to cool the skin and treat inflammation on bruises and sprains. Good used as a cold compress. Available as a liquid or in gel and cream forms.
- Arnica - used widely in homeopathy, arnica is an age-old treatment for bruises, sprains and muscle-aches. Some people are allergic to arnica.
Child-friendly items - you can get bandages, plasters, gel packs and so on in all sorts of child- friendly versions, such as Mr. Men characters, which you might find helps to bring a smile to a face, or help you to keep a cool pack on a bang for long enough to make a difference.
- Ready-made kits - ready-made kits are available that will include much of what you need, some are even designed specifically for children. They can be quite good value and time-saving but most ready-made kits won't have everything that you want/need in them, so be prepared to make some additions.
- Children's medicines - remember that not all medicines are suitable for children, and that different ages may require different doses. Always read the label to check who can take the medicines in your first-aid kit, and at what dose.
- Expiry dates - check your medicines regularly to make sure that none are out- of- date.
- Sunscreen - it's not really a first-aid item, as hopefully it'll prevent you needing any first-aid, but it is important to stock sunscreen for all the family in your medicine cupboard.
- Travel - research ahead when you travel to see whether there are any particular extra supplies that might come in handy such as remedies for tummy upsets and diarrhoea, and of course, whether you need to take precautions such as malaria tablets.
We want to hear from you what you've found helps out in little emergencies, whether it's a product you wouldn't be without or a tip or trick for dealing with cuts, bruises, bumps and scrapes tell us all about it.
Discuss this story
My mum always used to put sugar on our lip if we had a cut lip, she said it helped clot the blood. It usually stopped us crying anyway!
Anyone got any tips or tricks they swear by?
Posted: 18/09/2007 at 12:10
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