What do I need in a first aid kit?

Your first aid kit should contain a variety of supplies due to the many different needs it might have to fill. Basics include bandages of different types and sizes - plastic, fabric, waterproof, and gauze, for example. Tape, scissors, tweezers, and needles are useful, as are cold packs, antibiotic ointments, and soap. You should have basic medications, including pain relievers, antihistamines, hydrocortisones, and stomach medication. You should also always have at least two pairs of disposable gloves in order to protect yourself and the person you are administering help to. A small first aid booklet that details what to do in various emergencies is also helpful.

A first aid kit containing the following items:

  • 4"x 4" gauze pads
  • 8"x 10" gauze pads
  • One package of 2" gauze roll bandages
  • A box of assorted adhesive bandages
  • Tylenol for pain relief
  • Benadryl or other antihistamine for allergic reactions
  • Adhesive tape
  • Latex gloves
  • Sealed moistened towelettes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Disposable instant ice bags
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer in case
  • Activated charcoal (for poisoning: call Poison Control Center first before using)
  • At least one blanket
  • Plastic bag
  • Directions for emergency assistance

Additional supplies to keep on hand:

  • Clean water. You’ll need to keep a 3-day supply, which is one-gallon per person per day.
  • A 3-day supply of non-perishable food, such as canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, energy bars, juice, and baby food
  • A manual can opener
  • A battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning  supplies

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

More About this Book

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...
 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine
Every home, office and car should have a first aid kit. Make sure everyone knows where it is and what it contains. Below is the First Aid Kit Checklist found in my Doc’s First Aid Guide. You can use it to make your own kit, using a small tool box or plastic airtight container. Make sure the kit is clearly labeled. Restock it after using and check it regularly to make sure no supplies are missing or outdated.

Doc’s First Aid Guide with completed emergency information sheet

  • CPR barrier mask (face shield)
  • cotton swabs
  • instant-activating cold pack
  • paper cups
  • space blanket
  • thermometer
  • sealable plastic bags
  • battery-operated radio
  • antiseptic wipes/towelettes
  • sterile eye wash with eye cup
  • antiseptic/anesthetic spray
  • antibiotic ointment
  • calamine/antihistamine lotion
  • activated charcoal tablets/powder
  • wound saline wash/irrigation
  • tweezers
  • blunt-tipped scissor
  • bulb syringe
  • disposable gloves
  • change for a pay phone
  • candles, waterproof matches
  • pocket flashlight
  • paper/pencil
  • packet tissues
  • soap
  • safety pin
  • sterile cotton ball
  • sterile eye patches
  • sterile gauze pads, 4x4
  • hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • elastic bandage, 3-inch
  • roller bandage
  • sterile nonstick pads
  • absorbent compress
  • adhesive bandage strips
  • triangular bandage
  • butterfly bandages
Doc's ER Survival Guide (DocHandal's Guides)

More About this Book

Doc's ER Survival Guide (DocHandal's Guides)

Few people get through life without at least one trip to the emergency room (ER), either as a patient or support person for a family member or friend. Doc’s ER Survival Guide is designed to help...
You need a variety of items in your family’s first aid kit in case a loved one gets hurt or there's another emergency. You may need to personalize your first aid kit based on the ages of your children and any medical conditions a family member might have, but here are the basic items that every family first aid kit should include:
  • first aid manual
  • emergency phone numbers
  • medical consent and medical history forms
  • over-the-counter medicines, including pain relievers and cough and cold medications
  • allergy medicine
  • oral medicine syringe
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • a variety of bandages and gauze
  • sharp scissors
  • safety pins
  • tweezers
  • antiseptic wipes
  • antibiotic ointment
  • cold packs
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • latex-free gloves
  • thermometer
  • petroleum jelly
  • calamine lotion
  • aloe vera gel
Keep all of these items in a waterproof, plastic container. Store your family first aid kit where everyone knows where it is. Regularly check the expiration dates on medications so you can dispose of those that are old and replace them with fresh ones.
First, all items should be operative, current and not expired. Second, all items should be stored in a waterproof container in a location known to family members. It is recommended that personalized first aid kits include a first aid instruction manual, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, multiple non-latex gloves, an eye shield, breathing barrier devices for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, antiseptic cleansers (hydrogen peroxide, povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine), sterile saline eyewash, a non-mercury and non-glass thermometer, multiple safety pins, an elastic bandage, a suction device to flush out wounds, an aluminum finger splint, a space blanket, an instant cold compress, a flashlight with spare batteries, oral medication syringe and spoon, over-the-counter medicines (anti-inflammatory pain relievers, anti-itch lotion, topical corticosteroids creams, antihistamine tablets for allergies, cough and cold medications, anti-nausea, anti-dizziness, and anti-diarrhea medications), any personal items (inhalers, EpiPens, insulin), as well as a list of emergency contact phone numbers, medical conditions, medications and allergies.

The American Red Cross recommends that all first aid kits for a family of four include the following: 
  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)         
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)          
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)         
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets          
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)          
  • 1 gauze roll          
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)          
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)          
  • 1 instant cold compress          
  • 2 pairs of nonlatex gloves (size: large)          
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)          
  • A variety of bandages and gauze          
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)          
  • Sharp scissors for cutting bandages          
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide) 
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • 1 non-mercury and non-glass oral thermometer
  • 2 triangular bandages 
  • Tweezers to remove ticks, insect stingers and small splinters 
  • First aid instruction booklet

Continue Learning about First Aid, Safety & Preparedness

What You Should Know About Urgent Care—and When to Use It
What You Should Know About Urgent Care—and When to Use It
It's Saturday afternoon and your son has come down with a fever. Or maybe your husband sprained his ankle on a jog. Your doctor's office is closed unt...
Read More
What should I do if I get sick on vacation?
NewYork-Presbyterian HospitalNewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Here is what to do if you get sick on vacation: Consult a physician. If you have any of the follo...
More Answers
5 Tips for a Safe 4th of July
5 Tips for a Safe 4th of July5 Tips for a Safe 4th of July5 Tips for a Safe 4th of July5 Tips for a Safe 4th of July
From fireworks to backyard barbeques, here’s how to help ensure your July 4th is fun and injury-free.
Start Slideshow
What Emergency Items Should Be In My Family Medicine Cabinet?
What Emergency Items Should Be In My Family Medicine Cabinet?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.