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Health Information | 10/31/2022

Building Your Own First Aid Kit

By  Joy Leotsakos, PharmD, BCACP
You’re cooking dinner, and you nick yourself with the knife, or your child falls off their bike and scrapes their knee on the pavement. Cuts, bruises, stings, and other unexpected injuries happen every day. But are you prepared? A well-stocked first aid kit is a must for every home!

You can purchase a pre-made first aid kit in many retail stores and pharmacies or make your own. First off, find a container that will fit all of your supplies. A plastic storage container with a latch-top lid and handle or a plastic lunchbox will work. Make sure you clearly mark your container as a first aid kit.

What should be included in your first aid kit?

Hand sanitizer - we should all have lots of this on hand from the pandemic. Remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before tending to an injury!

Wound care supplies - Cuts, scrapes, and burns are among the most common injuries you might experience in your home. Keep your first aid kit well stocked with the following items:

For cleaning wounds:

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Spray bottle of saline wound cleanser

For treating wounds:

  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Calamine lotion

For dressing wounds:

  • Adhesive bandages of various sizes
  • Non-stick sterile gauze pads
  • Latex-free adhesive bandage tape
  • Elastic (ACE) bandage wraps

Over-the-counter medications (OTCs) - Always check with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about whether you should take any of these medications.

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl® or generic diphenhydramine)
  • Antacids
  • Cold medications
  • Bismuth tablets (for nausea or diarrhea)
  • Laxatives for constipation
  • Loperamide for diarrhea

Over-the-counter medications (OTCs) are available at all Atrius Health pharmacies, and most are eligible for reimbursement by a flexible spending account (FSA). OTC medications can also be mailed to your home. Just give your closest Atrius Health pharmacy a call to place an order!

Prescription Medications - Keeping a small supply of your regular medications can be helpful in the event of an emergency, such as a blizzard or other natural disaster. Also, keep a list of your current medications and dosing in your first-aid kit. If you have a MyHealth Online account, you can access your medication list online, or your Atrius Health pharmacy can print a list for you!

Instant heat and cold packs

Other household items:

  • Latex-free exam gloves
  • Cotton balls/swabs
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers (for removing splinters)
  • Scissors
  • First aid manual
  • LED flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cell phone charger
  • List of emergency contacts, including your primary care provider, pediatrician, and local police and fire departments

Consider keeping a first aid kit in your home and one in your car, and make sure all members of your household know where it is. Keep your kit where it’s easily accessible but out of the reach of young children. For older children, make sure they know the location of the kit, can safely reach it, and know what to do in the event of an accident or emergency.

Other things to consider when assembling your first aid kit

Age of those in your household. With young children, keeping lots of wound cleaning and bandaging supplies is especially important with all the cuts and scrapes! If elderly relatives live with you or visit often, having aspirin in your kit is important in case of a heart attack.

Medical history of members of your household. If anyone in your family has an anaphylactic allergy, keeping a spare epinephrine pen in your kit is essential. However, it should not be the ONLY pen in the house.

Keep your kit updated! Pick a date and make it an annual event to check the contents of your equipment and replace expired medications or items you have used throughout the year.

About The Author

Joy Leotsakos, PharmD, BCACP

Joy Leotsakos, PharmD, BCACP, is a clinical pharmacist at the Atrius Health Medford location. She joined Atrius Health in 2007 and has worked with internal medicine clinicians and staff across multiple sites over the years. She is also the coordinator for the Academic Detailing Service, which provides education for our clinicians related to clinical pharmacy quality and cost-savings initiatives. Prior to joining Atrius Health, Joy was an Assistant Professor at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. Joy graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy and completed a residency in pharmacy practice at the University of Florida. Joy is the proud mother of one son and enjoys skiing and cycling with her family.

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