If you've ever put together a first aid kit, you've probably spent a lot of time thinking about what goes into it. But it can be just as important to consider your first aid kit container. The container you choose to house your first aid kit will have an impact on how, where, and when you can use your kit. There are pros and cons to any of the containers you choose. Read on to learn a few of them.
First Aid Kit Basics: Container Pros and Cons
Plastic First Aid Containers: You may choose to keep your first aid kit in a plastic container. This is a classic choice, and is often used for pre-made kits. Plastic cases are inexpensive, durable, and give you lots of space. Depending on its size, you may find that a plastic container is not particularly portable. This makes it a good choice for use in the home or in small workspaces.
Metal First Aid Containers: Metal first aid kits give your contents added protection against the elements. Because they're waterproof, they're a great choice for outdoor situations. The downside is they are quite heavy, which reduces their portability. Metal containers make sense for outdoor work sites, as well as situations where your kit may encounter heavy use.
Cloth Bag: A cloth first aid container usually features many zippers, pockets, and compartments. This can be a great way to keep your contents organized. They usually feature a handle or strap, which increases their portability. The downside to cloth containers is their lack of durability. We recommend saving cloth containers to low use situations, such as a car kit.
Backpack: A backpack first aid kit builds upon the benefits of the cloth kit, providing plenty of organizational options with superior portability. It's easy to sling a backpack on your back and hit the trail with what you need. Again, the downside of this type of kit is durability. It's a good idea to use this container for situations where you'll be on the go, and avoid using it in heavy use areas.
Makeshift First Aid Containers: It's not always necessary to purchase a separate container for your first aid supplies. If you're creating a kit for a very specific low use situation, makeshift containers can work just as well, or even better. Food storage containers give you a small, sturdy, weather-proof space for a few supplies. Ziploc bags are lightweight, waterproof, and easy to fill with what you need - perfect for hiking. Waist pouches can be a smaller alternative to cloth bags and backpacks, while a plastic storage bin gives you a large, durable stand in for a plastic or metal container.
The right container can make a big difference in how safe and accessible your first aid supplies are. Don't be afraid to get creative, but do make sure the container you choose is right for your situation.
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We all have minor injuries from time to time. It's easy to get stuck in a routine for treating them. But you may be surprised at how many unusual ways there are to treat common ailments. Keep some of these unusual first aid hacks in mind to treat some of life's little mishaps.
6 First Aid Hacks You've Never Heard Of
- Apply Honey to Cuts: Do you keep honey in your kitchen? It's time to move it to your first aid kit! If you find yourself without an antibacterial product to treat a minor cut or scrape, you can use honey instead. Clean the cut with warm water, then apply a thin layer of honey. Honey's antibacterial properties will help keep infection at bay.
- Use Glue to Remove a Splinter: Splinters might not be life threatening, but they can definitely make your day a whole lot worse. Get rid of them quickly by applying a thin layer of glue over the area. Peel the glue off when it's dry and watch the splinter come with it.
- Deal With Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes are annoying at best and carriers of serious disease at worst. Repel them using store bought repellents, or by rubbing basil leaves on your skin. If you have a little more time, try steeping basil leaves in boiling water for 2-3 hours, then spraying the cooled water around your house. If you do end up with a bite, rub a banana peel over it. The sugars will help draw out the fluid, reducing that annoying itchiness.
- Treat Insect Stings: If you happen to run afoul of a bee or wasp, you know how painful the stings can be. Your first step after a sting is to inspect the area and remove any stingers left behind. If you've been stung by a bee, put a paste of baking soda and water over the site. If you've been unlucky enough to be stung by a wasp, reach for the apple cider vinegar. Soak cotton balls in it and gently apply to the sting.
- Banish Bruises with Pineapple: This one might seem particularly odd, but you can use pineapple to reduce bruises. Inside every piece of pineapple is an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain helps reduce inflammation, which is useful when getting rid of bruises. Rub a piece of pineapple directly onto the bruised area to hasten healing.
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- Use a First Aid App: Not sure how you would react in a first aid situation? Having a first aid app on your phone can put your mind at ease. First aid apps contain important information to help you effectively respond to any crisis that comes your way. Save valuable time by having the tips you need right at your fingertips. Pair it with a first aid kit and you'll be ready for anything.
Medical knowledge changes over time. Commonplace first aid tactics from your mother or grandmother's day can quickly become outdated. Unfortunately, this leads many people to make mistakes in emergency situations.
Here are six of the biggest first aid mistakes that people still make today. Do you know fact from fiction?
The Six Most Common First Aid Mistakes
- Putting Butter on a Burn: Did your mother ever tell you to put butter over a kitchen burn? It turns out this trick can actually impede healing. A burn is more likely to become infected if there's a layer of grease on top of it. Next time, skip the butter and reach for cool (not ice-cold) water. Seek medical attention if the burn damages several layers of skin or covers a large area.
- Leaning Back with a Bloody Nose: It's almost instinctive: your nose starts to bleed, so you pinch it and lean back. Unfortunately, this response can cause blood to flow down your throat, triggering irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. It also makes it easy to swallow blood, which may lead to vomiting. Instead, lean forward and pinch your nose just below the bridge.
- Using Heat to Treat Frostbite: Minor cases of frostbite can be treated at home, but be careful not to treat too quickly. Using water over 108 degrees, sitting close to a fire or heater, or using a heating pad on high can all cause further damage to your skin. Instead, think low and slow. Get out of the cold, use lukewarm water (between 100 and 105 degrees) or a heating pad on low to gently warm your skin.
- Creating a Tourniquet: They do it all the time on TV. Someone gets a cut on an arm or leg, and their friend creates a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. In real life this is a recipe for permanent damage or even amputation. Instead, use a clean cloth to apply pressure to the wound. Don't hesitate to call 911 if the bleeding is dangerously heavy.
- Using Ipecac Syrup After Ingesting Poison: It may seems counter-intuitive, but unless you've been instructed to do so by a poison control expert, don't do anything to induce vomiting. If you do, the toxic or caustic substance could do more damage on its way back up. Instead, look for symptoms. If there aren't any, call the poison control center at 800-222-1222 for advice. If the person is having difficulty breathing, is drowsy or agitated, or is having a seizure, call 911 right away.
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- Putting Heat on a Sprained Ankle: When it comes to sprains, think cold, not hot. Applying heat to a pulled muscle can cause blood vessels to dilate. This allows more blood into the area, which can increase swelling. Instead, keep the area immobilized and apply a cold compress for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off.
A well stocked first aid kit can help you get out of an emergency situation. However, not everyone is lucky enough to have a kit available when they need it. That's where unusual first aid products come in. The six items on this list can be surprisingly handy when the unexpected strikes. Make sure you have them on hand.
7 Unusual First Aid Products
- Safety Pins: Chances are you already have a few of these hanging around. Safety pins are useful for holding bandages together to help cover a wound. Sterilize the sharp end and you have the perfect tool for removing splinters. You can even use them to help immobilize an arm while on the trail: pin your sleeve to your torso to reduce movement until you can find a better sling.
- Tampons: Tampons are small, sterile, easy to carry, and extremely absorbent. All of these traits make them perfect for first aid. Their most common first aid use is for addressing nose bleeds. In some situations they can also help plug larger wounds, but be careful: they can be difficult to remove. Only use them for wounds if you are in a life-threatening situation and have no other option available.
- Vaseline: Vaseline, or petroleum jelly, is easy to keep on hand. While it won't disinfect a wound, it can help keep contaminants out. Dab it on cuts after cleaning them to keep new contaminants from settling in. You can also put a small dab on a biting tick. The tick will let go in order to breathe, allowing you to remove it easily.
- Super Glue: Super glue shouldn't be first on your list for closing wounds, but in a pinch it's better than nothing. Use it to glue small wounds (2 inches or less) shut. Don't attempt this on wounds that have irregular edges, are on your face, or are particularly deep. Make sure to clean the wound before closing it, and keep an eye on it over the next few days to ensure bleeding doesn't start again.
- Dental Floss: Strong and sterile, unflavored dental floss is a viable alternative to sutures in a life-threatening situation. Dental floss has also successfully been used as a tourniquet, but this is a risky solution that should only be attempted in dire circumstances.
- Towel: The humble towel is a viable (and sometimes more effective) alternative to gauze squares for compressing a wound. Simply wrap a clean towel around the cut and apply pressure.
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- Duct Tape: You may know duct tape from its dozens of household uses, but it can be just as handy in first aid situations. Use it to hold down bandages, remove ticks, and even fashion a makeshift sling. Best of all, you probably already have some on hand.
If there's one thing a first aid kit wouldn't be complete without, it's bandages. The variety of bandage shapes, sizes, and materials can be a little overwhelming for anyone unfamiliar with first aid. Get to know your first aid kit a little better by familiarizing yourself with the basic bandage types available in most kits.
First Aid Kit Basics: Bandage Types
Adhesive bandages are something you've most likely encountered in your day to day life. Each bandage features a strip of flexible material that is sticky on one side, a small piece of absorbent pad, and a coated paper covering. They are available in a variety of sizes and brands.
You're most likely to use an adhesive bandage when dealing with a minor wound. After cleaning the wound and applying an antibacterial ointment, remove an appropriately sized adhesive bandage from its packaging. Lay the absorbent pad against the wound, then attach the bandage using the sticky strips. Change the bandage if it gets dirty or wet.
Roller bandages are a common sight in first aid kits. Consisting of a continuous strip of cotton gauze or crepe, they're well suited for a number of first aid applications. These bandages come in a spectrum of elasticities. The more elastic a roller bandage is, the better it is for applying pressure to a wound.
To use a roller bandage, start by applying a sterile dressing to a clean wound. Begin by holding the rolled end of the bandage (known as the head) up, then slowly wrap the bandage around the dressing. Work your way up from the bottom, going an inch at a time. Ensure you have enough coverage by overlapping each layer of bandage by a third as you go. When you reach the end of the dressing, secure and cut off the bandage.
A triangular bandage is suited for creating slings. This makes them useful for supporting injuries to soft tissue and immobilizing broken bones. Triangular bandages are generally made of thick cotton.
Correct use of a triangular bandage depends greatly on the type of injury you're using it to address. Refer to the first aid instruction booklet found in any well-stocked first aid kit to learn more about how to best use this bandage.
Tubular bandages are almost exactly how they sound: tubes of thick, elasticized gauze. They are available in different widths and strengths. These bandages are best used for compression and immobilizing joints.
The application of tubular bandages is relatively simple: slowly slide it up the affected limb until it covers the injured body part.
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No well-stocked first aid kit is complete without a variety of tools. Having what you need on hand the moment you need it can be the difference between safety and disaster. Here are six common first aid tools you need on hand for a fully stocked kit.
First Aid Basics: Six Important First Aid Tools
Tweezers: You may be familiar with using tweezers for beauty purposes, but plucking errant eyebrows are just the beginning of their uses. A good pair of tweezers will help you through a number of first aid situations, including removing splinters, detaching ticks, and getting rid of insect stingers. They're also invaluable when it comes to removing glass and other debris from wounds. A good pair of needle nose tweezers are a flexible choice appropriate for a variety of situations.
Scissors: Whether it's trimming gauze or cutting lengths of bandages, no first aid kit is complete without a pair of scissors. Not only can they help you prepare your supplies, they're also ideal for trimming away clothing covering a wound. While you could put a pair of kitchen shears in your kit, we recommend investing in a pair of curved medical scissors. They're much safer and well worth picking up.
Disposable Gloves: A pair of disposable gloves is an ideal barrier between your hands and your patient's skin. They'll keep bodily fluids away from you while preventing microbes from passing to your patient. We recommend stocking your kit with a few pairs and sizes. Choose non-latex gloves in case your patient has an allergy.
Cold Compress: An instant cold pack is the perfect tool to have on hand in case of a muscle sprain or strain. Icing the injury can reduce the risk of swelling and bruising. Ice is also great to have on hand for reducing pain from insect stings. A single-use instant cold pack is easy to stock in your kit: keep several on hand, particularly if you're using your kit for hiking or other active pursuits.
Thermometer: Fevers can be dangerous, particularly for children. A thermometer will help you keep an eye on your or your child's temperature. Keeping a thermometer in your first aid kit ensures you always know where to find one when you need it.
First Aid Manual: There's no worse feeling than knowing you need to help someone but not knowing how to do it. Depending on your phone for the information you need can backfire, particularly if you're traveling in locations without good reception. Keeping a first aid manual in your kit ensures you always have the information you need at your fingertips. Many pre-made kits include a guide, but if you're putting together your own you'll need to add one. Don't skimp here: a thorough guide can make a huge difference in an emergency.
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There are several things that no first aid kit is complete without. One of those categories is medications. Whether you're putting together a first aid kit for home, for work, or for travel, here's what you need to know about including medications.
Types of Medications You'll Find in a First Aid Kit:
Pain Relievers: This is the most common type of medication you'll find in a first aid kit. It's a must-have if you're stocking a kit on your own. There are several types of common pain relievers to choose from. Acetaminophen (or Tylenol) treats pain. Though it is generally safe for anyone to use, taking too much can be detrimental on the liver. Follow dosing instructions carefully. Ibuprofen is another excellent choice. It relieves pain, helps with fever, and reduces inflammation.
Allergy Medications: Hay fever or other mild allergic reactions are a very common problem. Keeping allergy medications in your first aid kit ensures you always have a solution. Diphenhydramine is an effective medication for combating allergic reactions. It tends to cause drowsiness as a side effect. This can be a good thing if taken before bed. If you'd prefer a non-drowsy allergy solution, stock your kit with Loratadine.
Stomach Medications: Stomach issues are another reason people reach for their first aid kit. There are a variety of medications to address digestive issues. Antacids are appropriate for treating mild heartburn. Loperamide or another anti-diarrheal is another essential, particularly if you're traveling. Bismuth subsalicylate, the active ingredient in Pepto Bismol, can help treat a variety of gastrointestinal issues.
Things to Remember When Stocking Your First Aid Kit with Medications
Keep Your Kit Up To Date: Medications can and do expire. If it's been a few years since you purchased or created your first aid kit, take a look at your expiration dates. Replace medications as necessary to ensure they work as intended when you need them.
Choose Medications Based on Your Needs: Not sure which medications to add to your kit? Think about the circumstances under which you're most likely to need them. For example, at home it may make sense to keep an extra bottle of your prescription medication in your kit. If you're stocking a kit for hiking, extra packets of pain relievers may be most useful. There's no one right answer, so choose what works best for you.
How Much Medication Should You Keep: Again, this is a question that varies from kit to kit. How much do you anticipate using your kit? If it's a "just in case" home kit, a few packets of various medications should suffice. A workplace kit is likely to be accessed more often, so it makes sense to keep more medication on hand. Keep an eye on what gets used most often. If you notice a certain medication running out more quickly than others, keep more of it on hand.
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The holidays can be an unforgettable time of connection and joy. On the other hand, they can also trigger an unforgettable trip to the emergency room. With so much to do and so many people gathered in one place, it's easy for mishaps to occur. Make sure your holiday is safe and happy by taking these first aid tips into consideration.
Five First Aid Tips for a Safe, Happy Holiday
Weed Out Broken Decorations: Holiday decorations are beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. Broken ornaments may have sharp edges that can lead to cuts. Old lights may not meet current safety regulations, increasing the risk of electrocution or fire. Throw away any decorations that seem unsafe.
Treat Sprains Correctly: Decking the halls is all fun and games until someone falls off a ladder. Take proper precautions to ensure you don't take any tumbles. Always use a sturdy step stool or ladder to put up decorations: avoid standing on chairs. If you or someone else does end up with a sprain, remember the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevate. Protect yourself from further damage by resting the injured area. Apply an ice pack to address swelling. Consider applying a firm bandage over the ice pack to offer compression. Finally, raise the injured area to reduce swelling further.
Know How To Handle Burns: Extra time in the kitchen can easily translate to singed skin. Reduce your risk of burns by taking your time as you cook. If possible, delegate some tasks to a helper to ensure no one is working too fast to stay safe. In the event you do receive a burn, run cold water over the area for 10 minutes. Cover the burn with a sterile dressing, and use an over-the-counter pain reliever if necessary. If the burn is severe, seek medical attention.
Watch Out for Food Poisoning: When large volumes of food are at hand, food poisoning can be a threat. Be diligent about storing leftovers in a timely manner, and make sure your meat dishes are cooked to a safe temperature before serving. If you or a guest does suffer from food poisoning, stay well hydrated. Seek medical attention if the symptoms become severe.
Keep a First Aid Kit on Hand: Whether it's from carving the turkey or enjoying a little too much eggnog, holiday mishaps are bound to happen. Having a well stocked first aid kit on hand can help treat small problems before they become larger ones. If you already own a kit, check it over before the holidays begin to ensure it's well stocked. If you don't have a kit, obtain one before your guests arrive. Keep it in an easy to access place, and encourage your guests to make use of it should any incidents arise.
We wish you the best this holiday season. Stay safe!
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Bumps, bruises, bug bites, and skinned knees: all in a day's work for an active kid. But just because little mishaps are common for young children doesn't mean it's okay to be unprepared. Put together a first aid kit especially designed to take care of kids' most common injuries. Doing so will help ensure you're ready to deal with parenting's minor emergencies.
What To Put In Your Parent First-Aid Kit
- Bandages and Antibacterial Ointment: A kiss from mom goes a long way towards treating a scraped knee. Bandages and a tube of antibacterial ointment will do the rest. A box of band-aids is good, but a variety of bandages (including butterfly adhesive tapes and a roll of gauze) is even better.
- Water Bottle: Use it to clean out wounds on the go. It's also great to have on hand to address dehydration.
- Allergy Medication: An over the counter antihistamine (such as Benadryl) will help address bug bites, hives, and allergic reactions. Use tablets if your children are old enough for them, or a liquid version if they're not. If anyone in your family has severe allergies, keep an Epipen in your first aid kit.
- Painkillers: Keep a few packets of Tylenol and Ibuprofen in your first aid kit. If your kids are too young to swallow pills, include liquid versions.
- Tools: Include a few basic first aid tools in your kit, including scissors, tweezers, and disposable gloves.
- Sunblock: Sunburn comes when you least expect it! Keep sunblock in your first aid kit so you always have a supply available on sunny days.
- Itch Ointment: Keep your kids comfortable (and reduce the risk of scratching-induced infections) by including hydrocortisone ointment in your first aid kit. Perfect for bug bites, poison ivy, or anything else that makes you itch.
- Alcohol Wipes: Individually wrapped alcohol wipes are great for cleaning skin before removing splinters. They're also very useful for sterilizing first aid tools.
- Baby Wipes: Have a pack of baby wipes left over from when your kids were in diapers? Throw it in your first aid kit. They're useful for cleaning skin and wiping noses.
- Zip Lock Bags: Zip lock bags are handy for storing anything you'll need later, including knocked-out teeth or bugs you want to identify.
While these ten items are a great place to start, get creative by adding items specific to your family's needs. Prescription medications, snacks, bug spray, and additional tools can all be a welcome addition. Tailor your kit to your kids and you'll be prepared when the unexpected strikes.
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