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    August 10, 2006

    How To... Put Together a First-Aid Kit

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    A first aid kit is a collection of supplies and equipment for use in giving first aid, particularly in an emergency. Most first aid kits contain bandages for controlling bleeding, personal protective equipment such as gloves and a barrier for performing rescue breathing and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and sometimes instructions on how to perform first aid.

    A basic first aid kit should include the following...

    1 box – Instant Cold Packs
    1 – Package of small plastic bags (to fill with snow)
    1 – Arm Sling with pins
    1 – Small Scissors
    2 – Pairs of Latex Gloves
    1 – Bandage Roll
    1 – Sodium Chloride Cleanser
    1 – Roll of Tape
    1 – Tensor Bandage with two clips
    1 – Can of Antiseptic Spray
    2 – Small Tubes of Antiseptic Ointment
    4 – 3” X 3” Gauze Pads
    4 – 4” X 4” Gauze Pads
    4 – Knuckle Bandages
    10 – Strip Bandages
    4 – Large Finger Tip Bandages
    1 – Pair of Tweezers
    1 – Nail Clippers
    Contents

    Placement

    The American Red Cross recommends that households and workplaces be prepared for emergencies, which includes having a first aid kit. [1] The first aid kit should be kept in a clearly marked bag or container in an easily accessible location. Vehicles should also have first aid kits, with the size and nature of the kit in
    proportion to the vehicle's range and potential distance from help. In addition, commercial aircraft carry a comprehensive first aid kit often including cardiac drugs. The size and nature of the workplace dictates the size of its first aid kit. A workplace with heavy machinery will require different first aid supplies than an office setting.

    Security personnel may know the location of a first aid kit and be trained in first aid. There are usually legal regulations for the standard contents of a first aid kit required in different situations (for example, in the US those set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and in the UK set by the Health and Safety Executive). The host of any large gathering of people is responsible for responding to any potential medical emergency. This includes making sure that a responsible person has ready access to a first aid kit.

    Schools keep a first aid kit in the main office, whether or not there is a designated nurse. Coaches and other athletic trainers should keep a first aid kit handy during sporting events.

    Soldiers carry a rudimentary first aid kit attached to their belt or harness. It often contains a field dressing and powders or ointments to stop bleeding or prevent infection. It is a military rule that you always use the injured person's first aid kit, not your own, to tend to their injuries. You may be needing yours later.

    Paramedics, EMTs and other prehospital emergency providers such as combat lifesavers usually carry a comprehensive first aid kit. Often called a "jump kit," this is a large duffel bag. Some of the supplies in a jump kit are beyond the skill of a typical first-aid provider, but common first-aid supplies are also carried.

    Lifeguards must have quick access to a well-stocked first aid kit at their place of employment. In Canada, they are trained to the level of "Standard First Aid," and can deal with many first aid situations from a stubbed toe to a victim with C-spine injuries and absent vital signs. Obviously, a lifeguard is no replacement for a paramedic or doctor, but if you require care and a lifeguard is nearby, remember that they have training and a duty to act. Generally speaking, you may not use their first aid kit; they will have to provide care, and write a report per the regulations in your geographical area and the workplace.


    Contents

    Most store bought first aid kits, especially the cheap ones, are very poor in terms of quality, quantity, and selection of items, and are only suited for treating very minor injuries. A homemade kit, if properly prepared, is generally better and sometimes cheaper than most commercial kits. A generic first aid kit is better than nothing. However, the contents of a first aid kit should be optimized for local conditions. For example, a kit for hikers in snake country should have a snakebite kit. A kit aboard a boat should have medications for seasickness.

    One list of items for a first aid kit are as follows:

    Adhesive bandages are one of  the most commonly used items in a first aid kit
    • Dressings (Sterile, applied directly to wound)
      • Pads
        • Sterile eye pads
        • Sterile gauze pads
        • Sterile nonadherent pads
        • Burn dressing (sterile pad soaked in a cooling gel)
      • Occlussive dressing (airtight dressing, can be used to treat a 'sucking chest wound', in which air is sucked into the chest cavity, collapsing the lung(pneumothorax). For this use, occlussive dressings should be taped on 3 sides only, to create a 'one-way valve')
        • petroleum gauze (also used as non-adherent dressing)
        • Half of any gauze wrapper can be used, since the inside is sterile and air-tight
    • Bandages (sterility is not necessary, used to secure a dressing)
      • Gauze Roller bandages - absorbent, breathable, and often elastic
      • Elastic bandages- used for sprains, and pressure bandages
      • Adhesive, elastic roller bandages -Very effective pressure bandages or durable, waterproof bandaging
      • Triangular bandages - used as slings, tourniquets, to tie splints, and many other uses
    Sometimes dressings and bandages are combined, in which case it must be sterile.
    • Adhesive bandages (band-aids, sticking plasters)
      • straight adhesive bandages
      • Butterfly (knuckle)bandages
    Disposable gloves should be provided in a first aid kit

    Instruments
    • Adhesive tape, hypoallergenic
    • "Trauma Shears", for cutting clothing and general use
    • Tweezers
    • Irrigation syringe, for cleaning wounds
    • rubber suction bulb, for clearing the airway of an unconscious patient
    • Sawyer extractor
      if treating snakebites is a concern. This is the only snakebite kit
      generally recognised as not causing further damage and possibly
      reducing the effects of a snakebite.[citation needed]
    Equipment

    A flashlight is a useful addition to a first aid kit, especially one placed in a vehicle


    • Splint(s)
      • SAM Splint - Versatile splint made of malleable aluminum covered with foam
      • Air splints - Easy to apply, can also help control bleeding, but bulkier and more expensive
      • Wire ladder splint
    • Personal Protective Equipment(PPE)
      • Gloves, disposable non-latex
      • CPR face shield or other breathing barrier
    • Eye cup or small plastic cup
    • Flashlight
    • Instant-acting chemical cold packs
    • Sterile eye wash (commonly saline)
      • Sterile saline may also be used for cleaning wounds where clean tap water is not available.
    • Swabs, sterile non-woven
    • Space blanket (lightweight plastic foil blanket, sometmes called "emergency blanket")
    • Hand Sanitizer or antiseptic hand wipes
    • Thermometer
    • Penlight
    Medication 
    • Antiseptics/antimicrobial
      • Povidone iodine wipes - very effective and painless, but messy. Can also be used to purify water
      • Benzalkonium Chloride - painless, effective, often includes anesthetic (Bactine brand)
      • Alcohol pads - should not be used on open cuts or wounds, since
        they cause tissue damage and delay healing. They can be used to prep
        unbroken skin for injections etc. or to disenfect equipment such as
        thermometers. While not a medical use, alcohol pads are also useful as
        a solvent to remove ink, adhesives, etc.
      • Antibiotic ointment - single, double, or triple antibiotic ointment
        in petroleum jelly base(i.e. Neosporin, Polysporin). Since it has a
        petroleum jelly base, it can be used for things such as chapped lips.
    • Antiseptic/anesthetic ointment or spray
    • Anti-itch ointment(especially for outdoor kits)
      • hydrocortisone cream
      • antihistamine cream, such as benadryl
      • calamine lotion
    • Painkillers / fever reducers(Since moderate fevers are beneficial, avoid unless necessary)
      • Acetaminophen(brand name Tylenol)
      • Ibuprofen(such as Advil) - anti-inflammatory, often more effective that acetaminophen
      • Naproxen(such as Aleve) - similar to ibuprofen, but stronger and longer lasting
      • Aspirin - one 300mg Aspirin tablet may be given to a patient suffering a heart attack, to be chewed slowly.
    • Antihistamines - can treat allergies and allergic reactions, including life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
      Although OTC(over-the-counter) medications are far less effective at
      treating anaphylaxis than epinephrine or prescription drugs, they are
      much better than nothing and can be potentially life saving, and
      therefore may be the most valuable medication in a first aid kit.
    • Aloe vera gel - used for a wide variety of skin problems, including burns, sunburns, itching, and dry skin
    • Burn gel - a water based gel that acts as a cooling agent and often inludes a mild anasthetic such as lidocaine and, sometimes, an antiseptic such as tea tree oil
    • Epinephrine auto-injector(brand
      name Epipen) - Often included in kits for wilderness use and in places
      like summer camps, to treat anaphylactic shock. Requires a prescription
      and can be used with minimal training.
    • Poison treatments
    • QuikClot[2] is a hemostatic
      agent sometimes included in first aid kits, especially military kits,
      to control severe bleeding. It is recent product not yet widely
      marketed to civilians, although in 2002 Z-Medica(maker of QuikClot)
      received FDA clearance to do so.
    Note that regulations in some jurisdictions prohibit the provision of actual medications in a workplace first aid kit. In addition, many first aid organizations explicitly prohibit the use of  medication by a non-medical professional die to the possibility of serious legal repercussions. (See Good Samaritan Law).

    Improvised uses: Many first aid items can have improvised uses in a survival situations. For example, alcohol pads and petroleum jelly based ointments can be used as a fire-starting aid in an emergency, and the latter can even be used as an improvised lubricant for certain mechanical devices, and adhesive tapes and bandages can be used for repairs. These alternate uses can be an important consideration when picking items for a kit that may be used in the wilderness or survival situations. 


    Improvisation

    First aid can be performed without a first aid kit. Any cloth (preferably as clean as possible) can be used as a bandage. Duct tape could also be used to secure a dressing. Common household items such as a magazine or even sticks can be used for splints. Direct pressure to stop bleeding can be applied with a hand if nothing else presents itself. Obviously it is better to have proper equipment, but improvised equipment has saved many lives.


    See also

    External links

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