A first aid kit is invaluable for any home as a precaution, especially if you have young children. The contents of a standard first aid kit are relatively cheap to buy from your local pharmacy and straightforward to assemble.
The contents of your kit should be stored in a waterproof container with a lid. It should be large enough to hold the contents comfortably and be easy to identify.
• Plasters in various sizes (both fabric and waterproof), for minor cuts and grazes.
• Six sterile, non-adhesive, absorbent dressings (e.g. Melolin), 10x10cm size. These can be used for minor burns or lightly bleeding wounds and do not stick to the skin’s surface.
• Adhesive surgical tape (such as Micropore), 2.5cm size, to hold dressings in place.
• Two crepe bandages, 5cm size, to cover and keep dressings in place. This can also be used to support minor sprains.
• One triangular bandage which has several uses, such as a sling to support an injured arm or shoulder. This can be used to tie around the scalp or larger limbs to stem bleeding in a more severe accident, before medical help arrives.
• Sterile gauze swabs, 10x10cm size, to clean and cover minor wounds before dressing.
• Antiseptic wipes or wound wash (e.g. Savlon wound wash) to clean cuts and scrapes and wash wounds before dressing.
• An eye-wash solution and two sterile eye-pads, in case of injury to the eye. The pads cover the eye and come with a bandage to secure around the head. Medical attention must be sought immediately for any eye injuries.
• Burn relief spray (such as Burn-eze) contains an anaesthetic to temporarily numb the pain. Only to be used on minor burns and unbroken skin. For more serious burns cling film should be used to cover the area and medical help sought immediately.
• Disposable gloves to be worn by the handler to prevent infection when cleaning or dressing wounds.
• Scissors to cut tape, bandages or dressings to size.
• Tweezers for removing splinters or bee stings.
• Safety pins to secure bandages and pin together a triangular bandage.
• A thermometer, especially useful for young children. A digital one is easiest to use.
Now your kit is complete, it is important to keep it where it can be easily accessed but out of children’s reach (a high kitchen cupboard would be an ideal location). Check expiry dates regularly, replace any dressings and wash scissors and tweezers after use. It is worthwhile keeping basic pain-relief medication in your medicines cabinet as it may be required once first aid has been administered.
A first aid manual is essential and there is a huge variety to choose from. A good option is the ‘First aid emergency guide booklet’, available from the British Red Cross website. It is a handy A5 size with 23 pages covering the basics and costs £1.75. Alternatively, the St John Ambulance website offers a free download for your MP3 player called iFIRSTAID, which provides up to date advice. Read your manual beforehand to get familiar with it.
Hopefully, should the need ever arise, you will be well-equipped to deal with any minor mishaps in your home. In the case of a more serious incident it is vital to seek medical attention immediately. For those of you interested in further guidance, why not enrol in a first aid course? You can contact the British Red Cross for courses available locally and learn skills which one day may help you to save a life… What could be more rewarding than that?
Shazia Ahmed is a community pharmacist based in Cheshire, UK.