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5.29.2016

Be prepared! Essential inventory for your first aid kit

Summertime often means more time outside at the park, beach, lake, pool, or even just your own backyard. While the great outdoors offer many perks, it also brings a few potential risks, including cuts and scrapes, sunburn and bug bites, among others. However, if you are prepared with the tools necessary to treat these minor, yet common, issues, you can relax and enjoy your summer knowing you are ready for anything. Whether you buy a first aid kit or decide to make your own, there are a few essentials you should make sure are included. Make sure to have this kit handy at home or when traveling so you and your family can safely enjoy the fun all summer long.

Summertime-specific essentials:

  • Sunscreen, to guard against sunburn
  • Lip balm with sunscreen/SPF
  • Aloe, which is great for soothing sunburns
  • An anti-itch lotion such as Calamine in case you encounter poison ivy
  • Antihistamines to combat summer allergies
  • Eyedrops, to help with dry or itchy eyes brought on by allergies
  • A small magnifying glass that can help identify a tick on your skin
  • Insect repellent, to keep away mosquitoes and other pests

Everyday essentials:

  • Several different sizes of bandages
  • Rubbing alcohol prep pads
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • ACE wraps
  • A bandana that can be made into a quick sling
  • Small scissors
  • Tweezers (these can be helpful to remove foreign objects like ticks or splinters)
  • Non-latex gloves (many people are allergic to latex)
  • Antibiotic ointment to use on cuts
  • Cotton balls
  • Hydrocortisone cream to help lessen skin irritations
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • An on-the-go cold pack that can be used to reduce inflammation
  • Oral thermometer
  • Aspirin
  • Contact information for all your doctors, including pediatricians, allergists, dentists, and other specialists. Also include phone numbers for your local emergency service providers and a phone number to reach Poison Control.
  • A written list of all prescription medications you and your family members currently take; also note on this list which medications, if any, you or your family members are allergic to.
  • Any prescribed or over-the-counter medications your family regularly takes, including epinephrine/Epi-Pens, antacids, pain relievers, etc.

If you’re updating an existing first aid kit, don’t forget to check the expiration dates on any medications, creams, and other treatments that are already in your kit. If you find expired items, dispose of them safely and replace them with items that have not expired.

Keep all your first aid kit materials in one container, like a duffel bag that zips closed, and make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight. Keeping it in the trunk of your car might help keep it cooler and out of the sun. Make sure everyone in your family knows where and how to access the first aid kit in case of an emergency.

Looking for ways to save money on the items in your first aid kit? If you have a small family, consider scouring the travel aisle of your local drugstore for smaller-sized supplies, whose cost may be cheaper than buying a regular-sized item. If you have a larger family, you could try a wholesale store like Costco or BJ’s—you’ll be buying in bulk, but you might get a better value buying a pack of three as opposed to one single item.

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member, contact your Personal Health Advocate with any questions about specific items you may want to include in a first aid kit based on your or a family member’s medical history.