Picture this: Your curious toddler,
ready to touch and examine anything
he sees, stumbles over a chair en
route to the doggie's dish. The
chair falls. His knee is cut and
bleeding profusely. You've read this
book and you know one of the first
basic principles of first aid care:
don't panic. You also know you need
to stop the bleeding. With words of
comfort, you quickly reach for the
emergency kit you keep in the
kitchen on the top shelf. It's all
ready to use, complete with a list
of emergency phone numbers pasted to
the inside of the top.
As it turns out, your child's
bleeding looked worse than it really
was. A little antiseptic ointment
and a sturdy bandage, and he's okay.
It's one thing to know the first
steps to take in a medical
emergency, but it's quite another to
have the supplies at hand. This
chapter outlines the basic materials
you would need to administer first
aid in the event of an emergency. By
the way, don't forget where you keep
your first aid kit!
The 21 First
Aid Items Every Home Should Have
The following items are necessities
for any first aid kit. Prepackaged
kits are great for the road. You can
buy inexpensive" all-purpose" kits
to keep in each of your cars and in
almost every room of your house!
www.readykor.com for the
best prepackaged kits around.
But space is not an issue when
you're living at home. You can have
the luxury of filling your medicine
cabinet with everything you might
need-in the amounts you want. You
don't need the convenience of
prepackaged first aid kits. You can
buy all the items you need in a
drugstore or supermarket. You can
either keep them in a medicine
cabinet or in a childproof container
that's readily available in a
kitchen cabinet or a closet. Be sure
to store it where anyone can locate
it quickly, and make sure everyone
knows where it is! And, no matter
what type of kit you have, make sure
you place a list of emergency phone
numbers inside the lid. Include
numbers for your doctor, the local
hospital, poison control center, and
In order to have a useful first aid
kit, you will need to purchase the
Protective gear to prevent the
spread of infection. Remember those
Chances are, if an accident occurs
within your intimate family, you
won't have to bother with gloves,
goggles, aprons, and dental dams.
But it's useful to have these items
in your medicine cabinet just in
case someone other than your
family has an accident in your home.
And it's a good idea to put
protective gear (especially latex
gloves, disposable airway bags,
goggles or masks, and dental dams)
in your traveling kits or to add
them to your prepackaged kits. It's
especially important to practice
safety measures if you happen to
help a stranger. You don't want to
transmit HIV or any other virus or
disease from one person to another.
bandages in an assortment of
sizes for any punctures, cuts, or
Be sure to buy bandages that are
sterile and come individually
Sterile gauze pads that are
individually wrapped may be useful
for larger cuts, profuse
bleeding, burns, and infections.
A roll of adhesive surgical tape
will come in handy when using gauze
pads. You will need the tape to
secure the cotton pad to the
laceration. First aid adhesive tape
is great for wounds that need to be
sealed from infection. This tape is
extremely sticky, anyone who has
ever yanked off a taped bandage
knows that it can be a painful
experience. Clear tape will stretch
with the body; it is especially
effective when waterproofing is
necessary. Paper tape is best for
individuals with sensitive skin, or
if the dressings need to be
frequently changed. If you want a
recommendation, use cloth tape. It
keeps a gauze bandage secured
without the irritation or discomfort
of the other adhesive tapes.
Scissors may be necessary to cut
tape, clothing, or bandages in
emergency situations. Surgical
scissors will cut tape cleanly and
quickly, but any good scissors will
do in an emergency. (Avoid "kiddie
scissors" if possible; they're meant
for cutting out paper dolls and
Elastic bandages, or Ace bandages
(the common brand name), with clips
may be used for sprains and twists.
First Things First
Individualize your first aid kit to
fit your family's needs. If someone
is asthmatic, add an inhalator. If
Someone is a allergic to bee stings,
add an anaphylaxis (bee sting
antidote) kit. If someone is
diabetic, make sure you have insulin
cotton balls for applying
ointments and antiseptics, as well
as a sterile cloth for washing
and dressing cuts and abrasions
Tweezers for removing any foreign
objects from a cut or for splinters.
Although needles are only good for
splinters, they can sometimes get
out a small foreign object better.
So keep one on hand in your first
Before You Put the Band-Aid On
Sterile and germ-free are crucial
words when finding supplies to treat
wounds. The sterile products need to
Be used in order to avoid infection.
Bandages and cotton balls are
purchased sterile. But when using
your own medical "tools," you must
be able to sterilize them after each
use. You can do this by lighting
match and moving the instrument back
a fourth through the flame. Just
"don't forget to add a pack of
matches to your first aid kit!
Alcohol and peroxide can also be
used for sterilization.
Matches can be a useful addition to
your medicine cabinet's first aid
section. In an emergency, a flame
will sterilize needles and tweezers.
Just make sure you keep the pack out
of the reach of tiny curious hands!
Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean
utensils in your first aid kit, and
it very effectively cleans cuts,
scrapes, and minor wounds.
Antibacterial antiseptic lotions
and ointments should be added to
your homemade kit as well.
Histamines are chemicals produced by
mast cells-fat, , chubby cells that
are found in our skin. These
chemicals are inflammatory, causing
itching and burning. Antihistamine
medications actually neutralize the
histamines in the mast cells, which
stops the itching.
good all-around ointments that will
prevent infections on scraped knees,
cuts, and wounds. They also make
Oral and rectal thermometers are
important (and petroleum jelly for
the rectal thermometer). Fever can
be a sign of shock, poisoning, or
infection. It's always good to gauge
a sick person's temperature to know
how to proceed. (See Part 2 for
specific sections on fever and
poisoning; see Paragraph 3 for
treating shock and stopping
infection in its tracks.)
Calamine lotion for insect bites and
hives. This lotion is used to
relieve itching and
scratching. It also contains a
healing agent which is especially
useful for poison ivy.
Antihistamine tablets are good to
have handy in case of an allergic
reaction, an attack of the sneezes
and sniffles, a sinus problem, or a
migraine headache (all signs of
allergic reactions to pollen or
dust). Benadryl is a good
antihistamine, and it even comes in
a cream to treat superficial
allergic reactions, such as rashes
Mineral oil and Q-tips to remove
ticks on the skin and foreign
objects from ears. Simply dab a
little oil on the Q-tip and gently
touch the area in question.
Sterile eye wash for eye injuries.
Syrup of Ipecac, which will induce
vomiting in case of poisoning.
Available in any drugstore, Syrup of
Ipecac's sole purpose is for
inducing the vomiting reflex. The
syrup is made from a South American
root and does not require a
prescription to purchase. Only use
Syrup of Ipecac if you know exactly
what an injured person swallowed.
Vomiting can worsen symptoms of some
poisons, such as petroleum and
corrosive chemical products. To be
absolutely certain whether to induce
vomiting or not, call your local
poison center immediately.
A bar of soap or a container of
antibacterial liquid soap to clean
wounds and your own hands. Sealed
"wet naps" also work well.
An ice pack to reduce swelling, to
cool a victim, or to reduce fever.
(Many companies now make "instant"
ice packs that do not need to be
chilled. Chemicals keep them cold so
you can store them in a first aid
A flashlight. Be sure to check the
flashlight batteries frequently.
Flares need to be kept, in the car
or boat to alert passers-by of an
emergency condition. Flares not
onlyprevent unforeseen collisions in
the dark, they force other drivers
to slow down (and someone might just
offer help or the emergency phone
call you desperately need).
Medicine for diarrhea such as
Pepto-Bismol, Immodium AD, or
21. Aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil) tablets to
relieve pain and reduce fever.
Remember that some people are
allergic to aspirin, and some have
bleeding or stomach problems that
aspirin can make worse. When in
doubt, opt for the Tylenol
or Advil. NEVER give aspirin for a
fever to children under 18 years of
age; they are particularly
susceptible to Reye's syndrome, a
form of brain damage that can occur
when aspirin is taken for a fever.
Instead, give your kids Tylenol for
Children, or Pediaprofen (a child's
version of ibuprofen). Ditto for
22. Large; Triangular pieces of
cloth (scarves) for makeshift
slings, splints, and tourniquets.
Items for Children Under Twelve
Remember that trip your whole family
took to Williamsburg-when your
youngest child suddenly got the
worst cold of her life? The fact is
that young kids tend to experience
sudden illnesses more often than
their older siblings or their
parents. Further, young kids need
different doses of medication and
treatment. They can take the same
medications and ointments as their
older counterparts, but NOT AS MUCH.
In short, read the labels of your
pain relievers, your cough syrups,
and your creams before you use them
for your children. Even better,
check out your drugstore shelf and
put a supply of baby aspirin and
other specific children's
medications in your first aid kit.
And don't forget to pack that baby
aspirin, Tylenol, or Pediaprofen for
those "on-the-road" emergencies!
Maybe-just maybe-you'll get to enjoy
your vacation after all!
Special items for kids that you need
to pack in your first aid kit
1. Baby aspirin but only for aches,
pains, and strains. Kids under 18
years old with fevers should only
take Tylenol for Children or
Pediaprofen (a child's version of
Advil) to avoid the risk of Reye's
Syndrome, a dangerous ailment that
affects the nervous system.
2. Warm blankets.
3. A small stuffed animal.
4. Towels to use as makeshift
pillows, immobilizing equipment for
head and back injuries, or simply to
wipe up dirt, sweat, and vomit.
5. Baby powder to add a soothing
6. Children's cough syrup.
7. A music box or favorite cassette
and walkman for distraction.
8. Adhesive tape with "fun" designs
9. Cloth tape (it's easier to
10. A bright bandanna for use as a
sling or splint (anything to help
distract the child).
Before You Put the Band-Aid On
Small kids like to put things in
their mouths. The trouble starts
when they swallow something" like a
coin or a twig. If that happens,
first look in the child's mouth;
it’s possible that the object is not
wedged too far down and you can pull
it out with sterile tweezers. If
child is definitely choking, begin
the Heimlich Maneuver. ( See Chapter
Chocking for special Heimlich
Maneuver techniques for children.)
The Top Teen List
Administering first aid care to
teenagers is not too different from
administering it to children. If
anything, teens can be more fearful
because they are more aware of
what's going on. A child might feel
pain in her arm, but a teen will
know she's broken it. If a child
can't move, it will be scary, but a
soothing word and touch can go far.
This is not so with teens. If a teen
can't move, he or she will be
terrified. The last thing many teens
want is to be touched by an "adult."
Panic must be avoided at all costs.
If soothing words don't help,
explain calmly what you are doing
and why. Have the teen become a part
your "first aid treatment team."
It's a good distraction until help
Teens can handle most adult
medications, but there are a few
extra items that can help when a
teenager is injured:
1. A warm blanket.
2. Pad and pencil. (If a teen can't
talk, he can write answers to your
questions. This is a good
3. A walkman and a few favorite
cassettes for distraction.
4. Non-alcoholic cough medicine.
S. Buffered aspirin or acetaminophen
(Tylenol), which are easier on
Before You Put the Band Aid On
Statistics show that teenagers are
the ones most likely too
“experiment” with drug and alcohol
abuse. It’s best to administer the
following treatment for a possible
Make sure the teen is lying prone,
on his or her back. Loosen clothing
and place a warm blanket around him
or her. Talk to the victim, and then
talk some more. A calm, soothing
voice will help place the teen in
reality if he or she is hysterical.
Adult First Aid Supplies
The list of items every home should
have (presented early in this
chapter) covers what you will need
for adult first aid emergencies. It
doesn't hurt to have a comforting
voice and a soothing touch when
dealing with young adults and
children. And a warm blanket and
some warm words won't hurt an adult
in pain either! Here are some extras
you might want to keep on hand
specifically for adults:
1. Anaphylaxis kits are essential if
any family member is allergic to bee
stings. This simple antidote will
reduce the inflammation and swelling
in the airways and help the victim
2. Nitroglycerin tablets are good to
have on hand if anyone in your
family has a
history of heart pain or angina.
3. Inhalers are necessary for anyone
who has asthma. Keep several on hand
in case it takes a while for help to
4. Irritated eyes? Make sure you
have eye drops to soothe allergic
irritation, as well as eye washes to
help cleanse eyes of any chemicals
that might have accidentally gotten
in the eyes. (See Chapter 11 for
specific eye first aid.)
5. Ear drops will help reduce
earaches caused by infections and
fevers. They will also help remove
an overload of wax or a stubborn
insect, and they can help restore
inner ear equilibrium.
6. You don't need to keep a vial of
glucose on hand, but if someone
feels a sudden drop in the middle of
the afternoon, it could be a low
blood sugar reaction. The solution?
Keep a few packets of sugar on hand
to place on the tongue. Give the
person a slice of protein (low-fat
cheese or turkey is healthy) and a
slice of bread to stabilize blood
7. Insulin tablets or injections are
imperative in an any first aid kit
if someone you know has diabetes.
8. Contrary to popular opinion, a
"nip" of brandy is not good
medicine. It doesn't really keep you
warmer or help you stay calm. (And,
remember, in Chapter I, we advised
never to give a person in trouble
anything to drink!) However, if you
are the one performing the first
aid, that brandy might taste mighty
good after the crisis.
9. A warm blanket or one of those
new shiny, lightweight insulated
covers (used by astronauts in space)
will help keep your loved one warm.
Keep a warm blanket in the trunk of
your car or within reach on a shelf
in the closet.
10. A plain brown "lunch bag" can be
used to ward off panic attacks.
Simply have the victim breathe into
a bag for several minutes to help
steady breathing. It's also a good
idea to have a supply of
anti-anxiety medication on hand if
anyone in your family has a history
of anxiety or panic attacks.
The Least You " Need to Know
> A well-stocked medicine cabinet or
first aid kit has, at the very
least, aspirin, adhesive tape, a
thermometer, sterile gauze bandages,
tape, tweezers, anti-diarrhea
medicine, rubbing alcohol, and an
> Keep a blanket and a (working)
flashlight on hand.
> Read the labels. Make sure
children and young teens are given
> Never forget the power of a
soothing touch and a calm voice. It
can help an injured person of any