First Aid Kits

First Aid Kits

You are faced with an accident at home, you may have to stop major bleeding, deal with a serious burn, treat a snake or spider bite, help someone with a fractured limb, or deal with a foreign body in a wound or eye.
But you have your first aid kit! Are you certain that it’ll contain all the items needed to deal with the emergency at hand — or adequate instructions?

Probably not.

Buying a Kit is a very confusing exercise. Apart from the huge range available, there’s a staggering number of kits in each range.

  • There are First Aid Kits for home (small, medium, large, leisure, family, all-purpose) and for the

  • workplace (office, retail, industrial); also for

  • travel (car, motor trauma, off-road, boat, outdoor, pocket) and for

  • special purposes (diving and hiking, to name a few).

    They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, hard, hinged containers for easy access, and in compact soft packs that stow away neatly, or wrap around your waist on walks. That choice depends on your own personal requirements.


Very few First Aid Kits deal with even a Minor Burns Injury, Major Burns Injuries on a large scale are another matter of course, but I would bet that there aren't many families around who haven't had at least a minor burn to cope with.
And of course the most common is SUNBURN.
The trouble is that most product for treating minor burns do have a limited shelf life, and cannot be included in the list of items as advertised by the companies supplying the kits.
As a 3rd Degree Burns Survivor, and also one who suffered blistering sunburn as a child, I feel compelled to use some of this website to draw attention to this shortcoming.

Consider these as Essential Items for a General Purpose Kit:

  • At least nine sterile, cotton-gauze swabs, for cleaning wounds and placing over non-adherent burn dressings.

  • At least three disposable hand towels or tissues, for general cleaning, other than wounds.

  • 24 sterile, adhesive dressing strips in assorted widths, to cover small cuts, blisters and abrasions.

  • One roll of low-allergenic adhesive strapping, at least 25mm wide x 2.5m long, to hold dressings in place.

  • Two sterile, individually packed, non-adhesive dry dressings, 100 x 100mm, to use for burns, abrasions, cuts, lacerations and weeping wounds.

  • Three sterile wound dressings of different sizes, to protect wounds, use as an eyepad, or help control bleeding by applying pressure.

  • Three rolls of stretch bandage, 50, 75 and 100mm wide and at least 1.5m long (and stretchable to twice that length), to hold dressings in place, support injured limbs or give first aid for poisonous bites.

  • Two triangular calico bandages with at least 900 mm edge length each, to use as slings or dressings, or as bandages to hold large dressings or splints in place.

  • At least five safety pins about 40mm long, to hold bandages in place.

  • One pair of rust-resistant scissors about 100mm long, with at least one blunt point, to cut dressings and bandages, or to cut away clothing.

  • One pair of rust-resistant, pointed forceps, with accurately aligned tips and in a protective case, for removing splinters and stings.

  • One pencil and notepad, to record times and details or for passing messages.

  • At least three sealable plastic bags, about 150 x 200mm, for carrying water, making ice packs, disposing of dirty dressings or carrying severed body parts.

  • Disposable latex gloves and an approved resuscitation mask, for infection control.

  • First aid information — books are available from expert ambulance services.

    Optional items

  • At least six individually wrapped isopropyl alcohol swabs, for cleaning areas around wounds.

  • One sterile, thick and absorbent ‘combine’ dressing, 90 x 200mm, to cover wounds.

  • One plastic squeeze-bottle of saline solution, about 100ml, clearly labelled with usage instructions and expiry date, to clean eyes, wounds and burns.

  • One aluminium foil blanket, to keep a casualty warm.

  • Sting relief treatment, 10ml minimum, clearly labelled with its purpose and expiry date, to relieve discomfort from stings or bites.

  • Hydrogel burn treatment, to treat burns if no cool water is available.

  • Aloe Vera Gel, about 100ml, clearly labelled with usage instructions and expiry date, to apply to superficial burns, sunburn.

  • Proprietry brand of Burn Cream with painkilling ability, usage instructions and expiry date.

  • Fire Blanket, should be in every household, not as part of the Kit, but essential for putting out a fire on the stove-top on a person.

    The last four items are my additions to a recommendation by Choice Magazine for a First Aid Kit, and apart from the Fire Blanket, would not impose much of a burden Physically or Financially.

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