Everyone has a place in their home where they keep band-aids, ointments, aspirin and allergy medicine. For us, we have a couple of places because we like to have multiples of everything. It’s important to have these things on hand at all times — you never know when you’ll need them. But do you have an actual first aid kit put together?
Having a well-stocked first aid kit is a necessity in any home. Keep it in easy reach so it’s ready at a moment’s notice. You could just buy a pre-packed kit, or you could put together your own diy first aid kit — and chances are good that you have a lot of this stuff in your cabinets, drawers and linen closets already.
Containers for your DIY First Aid Kit
For a standard household first aid kit, we like the plastic containers with snap-top lids. They are stackable, see-through and repel water (as long as you aren’t dunking them in a full bath tub). We also use one of these plastic 4-drawer carts to hold the bulk of our first aid supplies. If SHTF we’ve got a portable central medical area with that cart as the hub.
The first aid kits we keep in our vehicles are kept in small backpacks. You could also just use a regular style bag, but we like the backpack style in case we have to leave the car with the first aid kit during a SHTF scenario while we’re on the road.
Be sure to label your containers clearly so that children and guests will know that these are your first aid kits. For the plastic containers, you could just use a label maker to put some sticky labels on the containers. With the bags, you might go so far as to sew on a red cross patch. If you have a military style first aid bag, you could secure that patch with a little velcro.
It is also a good idea to keep a separate first aid kit with your bug-out bag. You can get a MOLLE pack to attach directly to your pack or stuff it inside. Just be sure that if you put it in the bug-out bag you keep it near the top so it is easy to grab if you need it.
If you have young children that can’t read yet, be sure to mark a big red cross on the box and teach your child what that is and what it means.
Now that you have your containers, you need to fill them.
Basic First Aid Kit Checklist
This is a checklist of things that should be in every first kit:
- First aid book — As with any piece of equipment you ever own, if you don’t know how to use the things in your first aid kit, they become useless. The difference here is, improper usage of the items on this first aid kit checklist could result directly or indirectly in death. Read the book, learn it, and practice it regularly.
- Variety sizes of adhesive bandages
- Small pair of sharp scissors
- Large gauze pads — You can cut these down to smaller sizes if necessary.
- Medical tape — Not box tape, duct tape, electrical tape or masking tape, although in a SHTF situation, those will do!
- Cotton balls
- Alcohol prep wipes — Useful for cleansing wound sites prior to bandaging. Also good for cleaning thermometers, scissors, tweezers, or any other piece of equipment so you don’t risk infection.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antibiotic ointment
- Asprin, Ibuprofen, and/or Acetaminophen — Small packets or bottles, depending on what kit you are stocking.
- Tweezers and a sewing needle for pulling out splinter
- Non-latex gloves — In case of blood, body fluids and dangerous waste; keep at least two pairs.
- Bandage rolls — Rolls of gauze bandage material.
- Sterile saline — Good for irrigating wounds, rinsing eyes, and as a nasal flush.
- CPR breathing mask
Optional Items to Include in Your First Aid Kit
Now that you have the basics in your containers, it’s time to think about the individual kits, what their purpose is, where they will be, and your specific situations. These are just suggestions, so you may not need everything here, and there may be things you need that I haven’t listed. If you do stock something in your first aid kit that isn’t in this list, I would love it if you left me a comment to let me know. I’ll add it to the list so future readers will have a better idea what others keep in their first aid kits.
- Ammonia inhalant capsules — Also called “smelling salts”, they are used for arousing consciousness.
- Bee sting kit — If you’ve ever been stung, you know they’re no joke. These kits are awesome to have!
- Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) — Mixed with water and ingested, will help relieve acid reflux or upset stomach. There are also tons of other medical uses for baking soda.
- Calamine lotion — Helps relieve sunburn as well as itching from things like insect bites and poison oak and ivy.
- Antidiarrheal pills — Because you never know… ya know?
- Elastic bandages — the ACE brand is the typical brand associated with this product. Some elastic bandages have metal clip closures, some have velcro to keep them closed. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but I would sooner get the velcro than the metal clips because those clips can be lost.
- Small knife
- Matches — You might put these in a waterproof container or even just waterproof the matches — or both!
- Medicine dropper — Good for doling out medicine to young children.
- Paper bags — For hyperventilation.
- Razor blades — Can help when removing really big splinters.
- Snake bite kit — If you’re in the woods or out on the homestead on a regular basis, you will likely encounter a snake. If you are bitten, these kits have everything you need — including instructions (which you should read and learn before the emergency occurs).
- Triangular bandages — Use as arm sling, cravat bandage or cover for head dressing.
- Any critical medical family histories — It’s always a good idea to keep information with the first aid kit pertaining to allergies and such in case of extreme emergency.
- Emergency Inhaler, EpiPens, or other emergency prescribed medication
First Aid Kit Tips
It is a good idea to store your first aid kits in easily accessed locations around your home. You don’t want to have to dig for them when you need them the most.
Teach your children and frequent house guests where the first aid kits are stored. If you need them but can’t go grab them yourself, you can rely on the kids/guests to know exactly where to go so they get the first aid kit and get it back to you as quickly as possible.
Check your kits regularly. Be sure to replace missing items or medicines that may have expired on a regular basis. Expired meds are not as effective as they are in their “fresh” state, and if they are not there at all, you’re really up the creek.
Always wash any tweezers, scissors, and thermometers after each use. Sterilize them with rubbing alcohol for added safety. Dirty or contaminated equipment will only make matters of poor health worse.
Do not use any products containing natural rubber latex (NRL). They may deteriorate after time or worse, someone could be allergic to the latex and have an adverse reaction if they come into contact with the gloves.
Most manufacturing plants, mechanic shops and warehouses have fully stocked kits like this one, that hangs on the wall and is fully stocked with everything. Since we’re talking about making your own DIY first aid kit, you could just get the empty cabinet to hang on the wall and fill yourself.
Personally, I recommend you keep a first aid kit in each bathroom in your house, one under the kitchen sink, one in the garage, and one in each car. Overkill? Maybe, but I would rather be safe than sorry. The faster you can tend to a wound after it happens, the better off you will be.
If this is all a little much for you, or you would rather just have a ready-made kit, this first responder trauma first aid kit is a good one!