What should be in my First Aid Kit?

There are many things you can do to help yourself when you have a minor illness or injury. We would recommend every household keeps a basic first aid kit and medicine stock.

Always store the first aid kit and medicines hidden and out of reach of children, ideally in a lockable medicine cabinet. (Be careful that it is not sited somewhere that children could climb up to.) Also, regularly check the expiry dates of any sterile contents and medicines.

What should be in the first aid kit?

NHS Choices recommends that the following should be in everyone’s first aid kit:

  • Assorted waterproof plasters
  • 2 sterile eye pads
  • 1 crepe bandage
  • 4 triangular bandages
  • 6 medium sterile dressing pads
  • 2 large sterile dressing pads
  • 2 pairs sterile gloves
  • 1 pair paramedic scissors
  • 6 alcohol-free wipes
  • 6 safety pins
  • Tape

We are not entirely sure why every household requires 4 triangular bandages – it would be a very bad day when 4 children break their arm at the same time!

Some tweezers are also very useful.

If you feel anxious about administering first aid, then the Red Cross run basic first aid courses and first aid on children courses. http://www.redcross.org.uk/firstaid

The Red Cross also do Save a Life Courses (2 hours) or Emergency First Aid Courses (4 hours). Why not learn what to do if come across someone is unconscious or choking?

What medicines should be in the medicines cupboard?

Since minor illnesses don’t always start when the pharmacist is open, it is also worth keeping a few essential medicines in for ‘just-in-case’. Remember, that you may need to keep these in in both tablet (for you) and liquid (for children) form, and to always read the label before using them.

  • Paracetamol: this is useful as a painkiller and can help to reduce temperatures. It is probably the most useful medicine to have in, particularly if you have young children. It is generally safe when taken in normal doses, though can be very dangerous if you exceed the recommended maximum dose. NICE recommends that paracetamol is not simply given to reduce a temperature (for example, if your child has a temperature due to a cold but is still quite well in themselves and playing, then it is probably best to let them ‘get on with it’; but give paracetamol if they are feeling unwell, such as ear ache, sore throat or headache). See our guide to paracetamol for more information.
  • Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is an antiflammatory drug  that is particularly useful for muscular aches and sprains. It can also be helpful for period pains. Like paracetamol, it can also reduce temperature (but, again, NICE recommends that you do not use it solely for this purpose). Ibuprofen can cause ulcers, so should not be used in people who have heartburn, indigestion or a past history of ulcers. Some patients with asthma, can also find ibuprofen affects their breathing. Long term is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Antihistamines: these are useful for reducing the symptoms of hayfever and other allergies (eg hives (urticaria), itching, some causes of sneezing. Some antihistamines (such as chlorphenamine or Piriton®) cause drowsiness and are best taken at bed time. Others, such as cetirizine and loratadine, cause less drowsiness.
  • Hydrocortisone: This is mild steroid cream useful for minor reactions, such as stings and nettle rashes. It can help the pain of sunburn.
  • Other suggestions. Consider also keeping in the following:
    • Antacids: such as Gaviscon ® or Peptac ®, magnesium hydroxide or sodium bicarbonate, magnesium trisilicate. These are useful for heartburn. You can also buy more powerful indigestion tablets such as ranitidine or cimetidine.
    • Antiseptic cream: for minor burns and wounds.