Be honest: how many of you have a well-maintained home first aid kit? How many members of your family know where it is—or how to use it?
A lot of you answered in the negative, but the good news is that you’re not alone. A great many households in these United States—possibly as many as 44%–may not have a basic first aid kit or other emergency medical supplies. This is a huge risk—the Center for Disease Control estimates that unintentional injury is the fourth leading cause of death for Americans. Many of these fatalities could have been avoided if proper first aid supplies and training had been in place. Countless smaller or less severe injuries would have been easily treatable with a basic first aid kit.
In short: you need a home first aid kit!
No excuses, no delays, no procrastinating. Do it now.
Thankfully, there are a lot of resources available. The Department of Homeland Security has a good list of emergency supplies that all of us should have, and this includes a well thought out first aid kit. They suggest the following items as a basic list of medical supplies:
- Two pairs of Latex or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to Latex
- Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
- Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Burn ointment
- Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
- Eyewash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
- Prescription medications you take every day, such as insulin, heart medicine, and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
- Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies
- Non-prescription drugs: aspirin or other pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, laxities,
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricants
This is a good starting point, and a lot of the items can be found on Amazon for great prices, but there are some additional items that might better fit your needs. Babies and younger children have their own unique needs, as do the elderly. If people in those age brackets live with you, you will likely want to plan around them.
Got Supplies? But Do You Have Any First Aid Training?
It’s important to bear in mind that all the supplies in the world won’t help if you don’t know how to use them. Everyone needs first aid and CPR training, and the Red Cross is a great place to find a class that will give you these essential skills. You’ll also meet some new people, and have the chance to become more involved with emergency preparedness and response in your area—no small thing.
In closing, let’s remember that preparedness should involve the whole family or household. Everyone should know where the first aid kit is, and how to use it. Ditto the fire extinguisher and other emergency supplies. It’s a touch cliché, but true: if only one person has emergency medical skills, they’ll likely be the one injured and in need of help.
Don’t trust to luck. Get the training and supplies you need.