Most people feel that their medicine cabinets are adequately equipped to deal with a medical emergency until one actually happens. Not having what you need to treat someone who has been injured or fallen ill, only adds panic to an already stressful situation. Everyone should have a well-stocked first aid kit for the home, the office and travel – check these lists to make sure you’re ready for any emergency.
Travel (including camping or going to the beach)
If you are going away, your first-aid kit should include everything that is in the kit for your home, as well as the following items:
- White vinegar (apply to jellyfish stings)
- Motion sickness medication (for boat trips etc.)
- Topical steroid cream (for sunburn)
- Insect repellant
- Sun protection cream
- Eye drops (for salt water, sand and other irritations)
- Eardrops (for ear infections from swimming)
- The family’s prescription medications.
- Antihistamine tablets (for allergic reactions)
- Antihistamine cream (for stings or bites)
- Antibacterial cream (for cuts, scrapes and burns)
- Antiseptic ointment or solution, such as hydrogen peroxide (to clean wounds)
- Hydrocortisone cream (1%) (for itching and inflammation)
- Children’s pain reliever, such as paracetamol in liquid form
- Adults pain reliever, such as paracetamol in tablet form, aspirin or ibuprofen
- Calamine lotion (for sunburn and rashes)
- Anti-inflammatory (for muscle or bone injuries)
- Antidiarrhoea medication
- Antinausea medication
- Sugar or glucose solution (for emotional shock)
- Sterile gauze
- Sterile burn dressing (sealed)
- Adhesive bandages (plasters) in different sizes
- Elastic adhesive bandages
- Sterile cotton balls
- Sterile eye patches
- Disposable ice pack
- Elastic gauze roll
- Waterproof tape
- Matches to sterilise tweezers and needles
- Oral syringe to administer medicines to babies
- Paper cups
- Measuring spoon
- Sharp pair of scissors
- Safety pins
- Alcohol/antiseptic wipes
- Thermometers (suitable for adults and infants)
- Disposable gloves (at least two pairs)
- Torch with extra batteries
- Mouthpiece for administering CPR
- Blanket (stored nearby)
Are you aware of the legal requirements for your first-aid kit at work? The document on General Safety Regulations on the Department of Labour’s website specifies that if there are more than five employees at a workplace, the employer must provide a first-aid box that is available and accessible for the treatment of injured people.
The following is a list from the Department of Labour of the most essential items to be included in the first-aid box at the workplace:
- Wound cleaner/antiseptic (100ml)*
- Swabs for cleaning wounds
- Cotton wool for padding (100g)
- Sterile gauze (minimum quantity 10)
- 1 pair of forceps (for splinters)
- 1 pair of scissors (minimum size 100mm)
- 1 set of safety pins
- 4 triangular bandages*
- 4 roller bandages (75mm x 5m)*
- 4 roller bandages (100mm x 5m)*
- 1 roll of elastic adhesive (25mm x 3m)
- 1 non-allergenic adhesive strip (25mm x 3m)
- 1 packet of adhesive dressing strips (minimum 10 assorted sizes)
- 4 first aid dressings (75mm x 100mm)*
- 4 first aid dressings (150mm x 200mm)
- 2 straight splints
- 2 pairs large and 2 pairs medium disposable latex gloves*
- 2 CPR mouthpieces or similar devices*
*In the case of shops and offices, these quantities may be reduced by half.
It is up to the first-aid team at your workplace to decide what else to include in the box. Accidents that are most likely to occur in your work environment should be taken into consideration. Many medicines needed in medical emergencies are also used to treat common ailments, such as headaches and period pain, so staff may be tempted to use the first-aid kit as a free dispensary rather than an essential reserve of medical supplies. You may need to restock these lines regularly, or discourage staff from using the first-aid kit except in an emergency.
- Keep a list of the contents of the first-aid kit inside the kit, so that you always know what the kit should include.
- Check the contents of your kit regularly, to make sure that it is fully stocked and that none of the contents has expired.
- Keep the kit in an accessible place that is known to all responsible members of the home or office, but out of reach of small children!
- Ensure that the kit can be identified as a first-aid kit, by adding the correct markings, such as a green or red cross.
- Include a list of emergency phone numbers in a place that is clearly visible inside the kit.
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