Today, I want you to put together a very simple first aid kit and then place it with the emergency bag we made last week. Make sure that bag is placed somewhere easily accessible in an emergency! I recommend placing it near the door your family uses most often to leave the house.
Should you buy a pre-made first aid kit at the pharmacy, Walmart, or Costco? Honestly, it's better than nothing, but you'll make a better one yourself and can generally do it cheaper with better quality products. But it's not a bad place to start, certainly. If you know you'll never "get around to" making your own first aid kit, please go buy one, but get the best one you can afford.
You can also start with a purchased first aid kit and customize the contents. That's not a bad strategy, especially when you're starting. You know you and your family best. You know what kinds of injuries or situations you may face, and a pre-made first aid kit may not address them. Remove what you believe isn't necessary and add what is. Over time, you can replace poor quality items (like cheap bandaids) with better ones.
But let's assume you're a real go-getter, and you want to make your own starter first aid kit! You are a go-getter, right? It's easy with all that free time you have.
Locate these items in your house or make a trip to the pharmacy:
- Bandaids of various sizes, and at least some waterproof ones
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic of some kind, most likely alcohol wipes
- Antihistamine cream
- Medical tape (aka, adhesive cloth tape)
- Gauze roll
- Gauze pads of various sizes
- Aleve, Tylenol, Advil, etc
- Anti-diarrheal pills
- Allergy medicine: Another potential source of antihistimine, beside the obvious use
- ACE bandage
- Burn cream/spray
- Safety pins
- Tampons: I recommend U by Kotex Click because they are unscented and very small. They can also be used as kindling for a fire or as an absorbent pad for an injury.
- Sanitary pads: (Besides the obvious uses, they're also useful as large, very absorbent gauze pads for larger injuries.
- Scissors: Small ones, if you can find them. But you want them to ideally be able to cut off clothing if needed.
- Saline solution: Can also be used to clean out wounds or wash out your eyes.
- Cleal nail polish: See its many uses in my last post!
- Cotton swabs: You can find a small travel-sized pack that will be perfect.
- Space blankets: They are so cheap, so light, so small, and so useful that you have no excuse to not buy a pack.
- Lighter for sanitizing through heat
- Nonlatex gloves: At least 2 pairs in a size that fits. (Remember that some people have allergies to latex.)
- Flashlight with batteries, if not already in your emergency bag
- List of emergency phone numbers and addresses (Remember that you may not have a working phone!)
Extras of your medications, if possible
Brace (if you occasionally require one)
Special over the counter medications you use
Anything else that strikes your fancy
And the most important of all...a first aid book! Get a physical book, not an ebook. As observant Jews, we're more aware of the need for a physical first aid book because of Shabbat, but I want to state the obvious just in case. I looked through first aid books on Amazon, checked the reviews, and purchased a used paperback copy of The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook for one cent. Yep, one cent. Plus $3.99 shipping, but four dollars for such an important book was something I found worthwhile even with my limited means. Don't forget the kids or pets; specialized first aid books exist for them too!
If you want to be Teacher's Pet, include at least one N95 face mask for each member of your family. These can prevent both airborne infection and breathing in particulate matter (such as dust or debris). Can you imagine how many people in Midtown Manhattan wished for a face mask on 9/11? It will make breathing in a poor-air situation as good as it can be. If you don't want to be that hardcore (yet), include a bandana (or folded tichel) as the poor man's face mask.
You should be able to put all of this into a medium-sized make-up bag or a shoebox-sized plastic tub. You'll be prepared for the overwhelming majority of situations you will likely face in your life. And you will have peace of mind, which is priceless.
Bonus points: Make a simple first aid kit for your car! It doesn't need to be as large as the main one above, but be sure to include a Space Blanket and some kind of face mask. Put it in the glove compartment, console, or trunk. You can put it in something as simple as a sandwich bag or pencil case, if you only put in the bare basics.