Saturday, May 14, 2011

Putting together a first aid kit, Part 1

In my last post I gave some thoughts on being prepared, and did a quick inventory of my own situation at home. In this post I am going to talk about putting together a first aid kit.  These will be things that I will be purchasing for my home/car kit.  Some of the items may not necessarily apply to everyone but it will give a general idea of what may be needed for first aid situations until you can get professional help, or things you will need to give treatment for minor things when professional help will not be needed.

Something that is very important for you to remember as you read this is that it is for informational purposes only.  It should not replace medical advice given to you by your doctor.  You are ultimately responsible for ensuring that you understand how to administer first aid.  The information that I am giving comes from my knowledge gained from first aid classes through organizations such as the Red Cross, from current reference resources, and from my Nursing school classes.  I encourage everyone to at least take a basic first aid class.

If you have ever purchased one of those small plastic kits from Wal-Mart, you would think that the only thing you need are some band-aids, a couple gauze bandages, a tongue depressor, one of those reflective blankets, and a glow stick.  Why do they include a glow stick?  I have no idea.  What I do know is that those kits are useful if you get a splinter, cut your finger, or run out of ibuprofen and remember that there is typically a pack in the med kit.  This is not my type of medical kit, and offers very little by way of filling the gap between the time an emergency happens and professional help arrives.

So what should you put in your first aid kit?  Keep in mind, this kit will be useful not only in your home and car, but also when you go on that camping trip. Let's start with the simple things.

 Every kit needs to have 2x2 and 4x4 gauze pads, abd (absorbent) pads in various sizes, and non-adherent (also called telfa) pads, which will meet a lot of dressing needs.  I personally prefer to use the ones that are already packaged separately and are sterile, but they can be also be found in non-sterile, clean packages.  2x2's are used to help clean a wound, and then the 4x4's are placed on the wound, followed by the abd pad on top of that which is then covered with the telfa pad and they are all taped into place.  These are great for keeping larger cuts, abrasions, burns and blisters covered, and clean to help promote healing.  In order to keep these bandages in place you will need tape.  There is the porous "paper" tape and the clear "plastic" transpore medical tape.  They are both very useful and cheap enough to keep them both on hand.

Compression bandages (think ACE bandages), are also good to have on hand for wrapping and stabilizing joints.  This is great for support in sports or hiking, or a joint that is giving you some pain.

Band-aids of various sizes should be added to the list, and used the same way you use them now.  Those little things that the larger dressings are not necessary for are the perfect candidates for band-aids.  Get them in multiple sizes and shapes and get ones that will stick.  I prefer the brown elastic ones because they stick well and you don't have to worry as much about them falling off, after all, what good is a band-aid that will not stay in place?

Gloves are the final item I will touch on in this post.  In my first aid kit, I will be placing both sterile and non-sterile "clean" gloves.  A lot of people will have no use for the sterile gloves because they will not keep them sterile while putting on and using them which will make it moot to have them, however if you do know how to use them and keep them sterile, they are a fantastic idea to have especially when dealing with burns because burns carry with them a higher rate of infection.  Sterile gloves will also keep those sterile gauze, well, sterile.  The clean gloves, are your regular run of the mill "latex" gloves, however I suggest that you get nitrile gloves instead of latex gloves.  The chances of having an allergic reaction to nitrile gloves are much smaller than a reaction with latex gloves.

That is all I will touch on for now, the next post will discuss medications including sterile saline, pills, and topical ointments and sprays.  All of the products I have discussed here can be found at your local drug store, online by doing a simple Google search, or from this website http://www.shopmedvet.com/ which has some of the cheapest supplies that I can find.

Stay safe,

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