Responding appropriately in an emergency situation requires knowledge. Unfortunately, first aid know-how isn't something people are born with. It's up to you to improve your understanding and skills. Consider exploring some of these resources to learn more.
- Read a First Aid Guide: Most first aid kits come with a first aid booklet. These booklets provide instructions for responding to some of the most common first aid situations. First aid guides are useful for familiarizing yourself with the problems you're most likely to face in daily life. However, they can only take you so far. If you're already comfortable with first aid basics, you'll need to consult more detailed sources.
- Watch Videos Online: The internet is a great resource for learning more about first aid. A quick search will connect you with hundreds of videos demonstrating skills you may need. Online videos allow you to expand your knowledge in the comfort of your home. However, be wary. Only trust videos from reputable sources. If you're not sure about the information you're receiving, move on.
- Take an Online Course: An online first aid course will provide you with quality information presented in a clear, logical way. Completing such a course will make sure you encounter all of the information you need to be effective in a number of different situations. Some online courses may also offer certification tests, which may be mandatory for certain employment opportunities.
- Take an In-Person First Aid Course: There is no substitute for an in-person first aid course. An in-person course puts you face to face with an expert in the field, allowing you to ask questions and receive targeted guidance. Basic first aid courses are available in a number of places, including YMCAs, community centers, and pools. While this option will cost more than online courses, the hands-on experience makes the price tag well worth it.
- Become CPR Certified: Take your knowledge a step further by attending a CPR class. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is performed when someone has stopped breathing and doesn't have a pulse. A 1 to 3 hour course will teach you how to perform CPR correctly and safely. While this course does not go as in-depth as paramedic training, it does equip you with the information you need to save a life.
- Take a Targeted First Aid Course: Depending on your occupation and lifestyle, you may find yourself needing first aid training that goes above and beyond what you'd find in a basic course. A targeted first aid course will help you hone in on the skills that are most relevant. Courses in workplace safety, backpacking first aid, boating safety, first aid for mental health, and many other topics are commonly available.
Keep learning and refresh your knowledge regularly to make sure you know what to do if the unexpected strikes.
We talk a lot about items you need for a first aid kit, but what about the items you could do without? Knowing what not to include in your first aid kit keeps unnecessary items from taking up precious space. It also saves you from spending money on items you just don't need. Here's our list of the top 6 things you don't need to keep in your first aid kit.
6 Things You Don't Need in Your First Aid Kit
- Overly Specialized Items: If you're creating a kit for everyday situations (such as for your home or car), there's no need to invest in a mountain of overly specialized items. Most home mishaps can be addressed with bandaids, stretch bandages, or a dose of antihistamine. Piling your container with splints, thermal blankets, and snake bite kits loads you down with stuff you just don't need.
- Irrelevant Gadgets: First aid kits for the home or office don't need many gadgets. A pair of scissors, a pair of tweezers, a thermometer, and a first aid guide are about all you need. Resist the temptation to stock up on survival gadgets. Knives and multitools may come in useful if you're hiking in the backcountry, but they're generally irrelevant in everyday life.
- Ipecac: Some premade kits and first aid checklists include ipecac. Ipecac used to be recommended as a way to induce vomiting after poison is ingested. Today, this strategy is considered outdated. Get rid of any ipecac you have in your current kit. If you're building a kit from scratch, don't bother adding it.
- Too Much Medication: Pain relievers, antihistamines, and medications for stomach issues are all wonderful things to add to a first aid kit. However, you can have too much of a good thing. All medications have a shelf life, and if they're left in your kit for too long they may lose their effectiveness. Don't overstock your kit with more medication than you know you'll use.
- Overly Complicated Items: Unless you're a trained first responder, it's likely that an emergency situation will cause you some stress. No one is at their best when stressed out, so do yourself a favor by keeping your first aid items easy to use. Don't include anything that requires special training to properly apply. Instead, focus in on items that are simple to open and use correctly.
- Inappropriate Items for Your Situation: It's worthwhile to put some thought into how and why you'll be using your first aid kit. Items that could save your life while hiking could be completely irrelevant if you're using your kit at home. Government regulations may dictate what you can and can't include in a kit for a workplace. Don't bother with items that aren't appropriate for what you're trying to do.
Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected things at us. How we handle the unexpected often comes down to our preparedness and our ability to respond. This has always been the driving force behind the concept of a first-aid kit.
But it’s not just about having a first aid kit in general. It’s about choosing the best first aid kit to suit your needs and circumstances.
Because having the right first aid can save lives.
My First Aid Kit Could Save Lives? Really?
Absolutely! We are not being dramatic here. A large number of accident-related fatalities are a direct result of a lack of first aid treatment in the crucial first ‘golden hour’. Dealing quickly with a cut, laceration, open wound or allergic reaction can save a life. Helping an accident victim who is in shock is absolutely essential, because shock can be deadly.
You never know how serious a problem may be and how important your quick and simple treatment can be. You never know if a victim has more serious underlying health issues.
Then what about floods, a wildfire, a hurricane or a tornado? Are you ready?
Not All Kits Are Equal
Do you have the right kind of kit available when you really need it? Different kinds of problems and injuries can arise in different settings and environments – at home, at work, camping, hunting, road trips, cycling, and so on. The right supplies can make all the difference for treating injuries and cleaning and dressing wounds immediately, as opposed to waiting for help to arrive or traveling to a hospital.
Then there are kits that are for both first aid and emergency preparedness.
Your choice of first aid kit can save a life.
- First Aid Kit. Be prepared to handle cuts, burns, open wounds, strains, sprains, and more. Have what you need to keep someone calm and immobilized should they suffer fractures.
- Trauma Kit. Stop more extensive bleeding with a tourniquet and an advanced QuikClot clotting sponge. Protect your own life by using the kit’s medical gloves.
- Emergency Kit. Prepared people keep one ready in their back yards. In addition to first aid items, it should be packed with what you need to survive a short time in difficult circumstances like cold, in the wild, after an earthquake, and so on.
By the way, add a CPR mask with one-way valve to every kit. This is definitely a life saver. Sometimes, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation can be difficult, or the rescuer needs to avoid fluid transfer from the victim. A pocket-sized shield with a valve can be inserted into any kit.
Does Your Kit Include a First Aid Guide?
You don’t have to be a first aid expert to save a life. If your kit includes a guide, anyone can provide crucial treatment.
Your first aid kit must be appropriate for the activities going on around you and the length of time they last. For example, if you’re camping for a week, you need more supplies than just for a day hike.
Also think how many people need to be covered by a kit. A good kit will tell you how many people it’s good for.
Extra supplies can mean the difference between life and death. The wrong kit will leave you short.
Keep it Fresh, Keep it Stocked
Supplies simply must be replaced and kept within their shelf life. Otherwise, a kit becomes useless. It's easy to get a kit and forget about it. Some first aid items expire or deteriorate.
Mark your calendar the same as you do for smoke detectors to check supplies twice a year. And if you ever use some supplies, replace them immediately.
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