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Most people have a first aid kit in their home, but how many carry one in their car or truck? You should always be ready and able to deal with everything from full-blown emergencies to minor cuts and scrapes. Even on the road. For this reason, you can opt to either purchase a ready-made kit or build your own. If you decide on the latter, we have compiled a list of items to get you started.
Essential Items for a Car First Aid Kit
Although there are many different pre-made kits on the market, building your own allows you to personalize it. As a result, you can ensure that you have items that cover any specific needs you may have. Not to mention, you save a lot of money building your own kit. Likewise, you will also have a very personal, hands-on knowledge of your first aid kit when you are done.
You will need some form of container to keep your kit together. It might not be a bad idea to wait until you have the components of your kit on hand. By doing so, you will know exactly how much space you will need.
You will also need to determine if you want to go with a soft or hard container. Something to consider is that a soft container can get squished. So, if you go with a soft pack of some kind, make sure it is heavy-duty and protective.
Additionally, consider some smaller, clear containers to keep items separated within the kit for faster identification and acquisition. For smaller items, you can even get a small container with multiple compartments.
As with everything, it is always best to start with the basic essentials. Your car first aid kit is no different. While building your kit you want to address the most common issues that can arise. Also, don’t forget to keep child and infant versions of everything when possible. Even if you don’t have a small child, there is always the possibility that you will need to help one.
Here is a list of basic items to choose from to start your kit. Pick all or only what you think you may need:
- Band-Aids—various sizes and uses (standard, knuckle, large, waterproof, etc.)
- Blister Pads—for the feet
- Elastic Bandage—for minor sprains
- Gauze Pads—various sizes
- Cotton Balls
- Cotton Swabs
- Safety Pins—used for closing bandages or torn clothing
- Medical Tape
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Antiseptic and Hydrocortisone Cream—to care for rashes and inflammation
- Aloe Vera—to treat mild burns
- Antiseptic Wipes—to sanitize hands
- Hand Sanitizer
- Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or other pain-relieving medication
- Antihistamine—to care for allergic reactions
- Insect Sting/Bite Treatment
- Digital Thermometer
- Curved Medical Scissors—to cut clothes away from an injury
- Saline Solution—for eye washing or cleaning wounds
- Alcohol Swabs—for cleaning wounds
- Synthetic Gloves
- Anti-diarrhea Medication
- Hot and Cold Packs—for strains and sprains
- Emergency Blanket—for hypothermia or shock
Once you have the basics covered, you can tailor your kit how you would like it. For the most part, the items above will keep you covered for most minor emergencies. However, if you would like to get a little more in-depth for serious situations, you can add the following:
If CPR is necessary, you don’t want to waste time wondering if they have an infectious disease. You will want to get started immediately. A good CPR mask will help take some of the risks out of performing CPR on a stranger. However, due to the fact that CPR involves respiratory issues, a CPR mask will most likely not protect against COVID.
A tourniquet is an item you hope you never need but will be glad you have if you do. In the event of a serious accident involving rapid blood loss, you want to be able to stop the blood while waiting for paramedics. A proper tourniquet will help reduce blood loss until help arrives.
Like the tourniquet, anti-clot bandages will help to reduce blood loss from wounds in areas a tourniquet cannot impact. Major lacerations to the torso are impossible to mitigate with a tourniquet. However, a good anti-clot bandage will help slow the blood loss until help arrives. It is a good idea to keep a few various sizes on hand.
In the event of a minor arm break, dislocation, etc. keeping the arm immobilized will help reduce further damage. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep a good sling in your kit. However, make sure you have some idea of the extent of the damage before applying the sling. If the damage is severe, moving the arm at all might cause further damage. So, always thoroughly assess the injury before moving the arm.
First Aid Manual
Knowledge is power. No amount of gear is going to help if you don’t know how to use it. A good first aid manual can go a long way towards ensuring that you don’t make matters worse. Likewise, it can help you properly diagnose the medical situation before making the decision of what action to take. But make sure you do research before you buy. A bad first aid manual can be as bad as no first aid manual. Make sure the manual you select is from an accredited source.
Likewise, taking a first aid class will prepare you for basic medical emergencies. The American Red Cross has many classes and courses for any level of training. Check your local area for a class/course happening near you.
Medical emergencies happen when we least expect them. From car accidents to incidents at your child’s game, it is important to be prepared. We always hope that we never have to use anything more than the Band-Aids in our kit, but it is good to be prepared if more is necessary. Carrying a first aid kit in your car will ensure you are ready when life happens.