First Aid Kit Contents

No home should be without a basic first aid kit to use in the event that an emergency medical situation occurs. Once completed you just need to make sure that any contents that have expiration dates, such as any over the counter medications, are replaced as they outdate. It is helpful to keep a list of the medication expiration dates in the top of the kit to make checking the dates easier. Be sure that everyone in your family (or workplace) knows the location of the kit and have a general idea of what is actually inside the first aid kit. Commercial kits are available but you might want to make a custom first aid kit. Creating your own kit will allow you the flexibility to make it as basic or comprehensive as you wish and you can actually create a more complete custom kit at a lower price than many commercially available first aid kits. If you start be creating a fairly basic first aid kit you then can add to it over time to develop a more complete kit. The kit will contain medications and possibly sharp objects so be sure to keep the first aid kit out of the reach of any small children to prevent accidental injury. It would be a real shame to have a first aid kit be responsible for a medical emergency! You should be able to find most of the needed items at your local pharmacy but if you decide to include some specialized items you may need to purchase them from a medical supply business or order them from a company that specializes in first aid supplies.

Ideally all of your family members should also take an age appropriate first aid class that includes CPR training and certification. These classes are offered and sponsored by various organizations in most communities throughout the country (and world) on a regular basis.

The two most popular containers for first aid kits are fishing tackle boxes and back pack type bags (red is a good color). If one of these types of compact cases is used, the kit can also be easily taken on trips. Tackle boxes have the advantages of being easy to view all of the contents when open and they are quite weatherproof. The book bag type has the advantage of being easily transported (without having to carry it in your hand) but to avoid a jumble of contents you really need to have 3-4 smaller containers inside such as small rectangular Tupperware in a variety of sizes. Both types of cases have advantages so carefully consider the one that best meets your needs. If there is a particular activity that you frequently participate in such as camping or boating, you may want to customize the kit a little to anticipate any needs that may arise.

The following items listed are what I feel are the minimum needed for a suitable basic first aid kit. The list is based primarily on the booklet “Preparing for Disaster” Developed by the American Red Cross in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency. I have made some minor modifications including the addition of a few items that I feel are important.

(1) box of assorted adhesive bandages,

(1) 5″ x 9″ sterile dressing,

(1) conforming roller gauze bandage,

(2) triangular bandages,

(2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads,

(2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads,

(1) roll 3″ cohesive bandage,

(1) bulky nonsterile absorbent dressing (Kotex type sanitary pad works well),

(2) germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer,

(6) antiseptic wipes, (2) pair large medical grade non-latex gloves,

(2) filter type paper face mask,

(1) roll of 2″ wide adhesive tape,

(1) tube anti-bacterial ointment (such as “triple antibiotic” ointment),

(1) cold pack (instant type),

scissors (small, personal),


CPR breathing barrier (such as a face shield),

aspirin and nonaspirin (acetaminophen) pain reliever (do not give aspirin to children or teens),

ibuprofen may also be included, anti-diarrheal medication (tablet form of loperamide is probably best),

antacid (for stomach upset),

syrup of ipecac (to be used to induce vomiting only if advised by a Poison Control Center,

ER, family physician etc.),

laxative, activated charcoal (use only if advised by the Poison Control Center etc.)

and finally a simple first aid guide (such as the Red Cross Basic Guidebook).

I hope that you enjoy creating your own first aid kit and that the need for its use never goes beyond a few bandaids!