What should you include in your first-aid kit: A complete guide to being prepared in medical emergencies

A well-stocked first-aid kit can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. It is advisable to keep at least one first-aid kit in your home and one in your car. Store them in someplace where it’s easy to get and is out of reach of young children. It’s also important to make sure that children who are old enough to understand the purpose of a first-aid kit know where they’re stored.

While there are assembled first-aid kits at many drugstores, it’s still best to customize your kit based on your activities and needs. Here’s a list of what you can include in your first-aid kit:

Basic Supplies

  1. Adhesive tape
  2. Elastic wrap bandages
  3. Bandage strips and “butterfly” bandages in assorted sizes
  4. Non-stick sterile bandages and roller gauze in assorted sizes
  5. Eyeshield or pad
  6. Triangular bandage
  7. Aluminum finger splint
  8. Instant cold packs
  9. Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
  10. Disposable latex gloves
  11. Duct tape
  12. Petroleum jelly
  13. Water-based lubricant, i.e. K-Y Jelly bags
  14.  Plastic bags, assorted sizes
  15. Safety pins in assorted sizes
  16. Scissors and tweezers
  17. Soap or hand sanitizer
  18. Antibiotic ointment
  19. Antiseptic solution and towelettes
  20. Eyewash solution
  21. Thermometer
  22. A turkey baster for flushing wounds
  23. Breathing barrier
  24. Sterile water for flushing wounds
  25. Syringe, medicine cup or spoon
  26. First-aid manual


  1. Aloe vera gel for soothing burns and sunburns
  2. Calamine lotion
  3. Anti-diarrhea medication
  4. Laxative
  5. Syrup of Ipecac
  6. Antacids
  7. Antihistamine
  8. Pain relievers, i.e. Tylenol, ibuprofen, i.e. Advil and aspirin (remember to never give aspirin to children unless prescribed by a doctor)
  9. Hydrocortisone cream or Calendula cream
  10. Cough and cold medications
  11. Personal medications that don’t need refrigeration, i.e. antacids
  12. Epi-Pen for allergic reactions, if prescribed by your doctor

Emergency Items

  1. Emergency phone numbers, including contact information for your family doctor and pediatrician, local emergency services, emergency road service providers, and the poison helpline. US: 800-222-1222
  2. Medical consent forms for each family member
  3. Medical history forms for each family member. Make sure to include a list of food and drug allergies.
  4. Small, waterproof flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries.
  5. A hand-crank flashlight
  6. Waterproof matches
  7. A small notepad and pencil
  8. Emergency space blanket
  9. Cell phone with solar charger
  10. Sunscreen
  11. Water purification tablets, i.e. Aquatabs
  12. Insect repellant
  13. Pocket knife
  14. Whistles

Important Reminder

Check your first-aid kits regularly to be sure the flashlight batteries work and to replace supplies that have expired or been used up.

Another important consideration is taking a first-aid course through the American Red Cross. Maybe make it a family activity, so your children will also be more comfortable with the idea of giving and receiving first-aid treatment. The American Red Cross offers a number of helpful resources, including classes designed to help children understand and use first-aid techniques. Contact your local chapter for information on classes.

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