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Make a First Aid Kit

A DIY first aid kit. Photo by Mary Reed.

Most first aid kits you can buy come premade, are convenient and take little work. But making a first aid kit homemade can have its advantages.

Why homemade? It is usually cheaper when kits are homemade because you can buy whatever you want from any store and control what is inside the kit, or you may decide to have higher quality products. Also, a lot of the supplies for the kit are probably already inside your medicine cabinet. You are able to customize the kit specifically for you. “If you make one (a first aid kit) yourself you can put supplies in it that can be beneficial to your special needs like allergies or specific medications that you need to take,” says Jane Patton, health and safety coordinator at the Red Cross in Athens, OH.

Get the basics. For starters, get a bag to place the supplies in. A Ziplock bag will work. The main thing about the bag is that it’s easy to access and can hold the gear securely. When deciding on the basics, start with you special needs such as special medications or an EpiPen for allergic reactions. Some of the essential items to have include sunscreen, iodine tablets for untreated water, ibuprofen for swelling and pain relief, aspirin for aches and pains, bandages in assorted sizes and antiseptic towelettes.

Many of the other supplies, however, depend on how long you are traveling and how far away you are going to from medical help.

Be sure to double check. “A disadvantage (to making your own kit) would be that you may leave out important things that would be in a premade kit,” says Jane. Because of this, be sure to check homemade kits before every trip to make sure the kit has everything you need and replace items out or in low supply. Also, check expiration dates of creams, aspirin and ibuprofen or anything that is out of date to replace. The idea behind first aid kits is that they are mobile, lightweight and easy to access. Therefore, when packing a first aid kit, remember you don’t need to bring everything but the kitchen sink with you. Depending on your trip, you might need four tablets of aspirin instead of the whole bottle. You can pack small size scissors and just a few gauze pads. Keep it simple yet bring enough that each item will be effective.

First Aid Kit Checklist

Tools & accessories
Flashlight (best without batteries) for seeing into someone’s mouth or dark areas
Tweezers for removing splinters or ticks
Cotton swabs (Q-tips) for cleaning or applying certain creams/ointments
Alcohol wipes, for cleaning tweezers, needles, etc. and protection from germs
Hand sanitizer, disinfectant
First aid manual
Gloves for protection from blood and blood-borne diseases
Scissors for cutting tape and bandages
Small mirror for checking eye problems or as an emergency signaling device

Band-Aids for small cuts
Gauze pads (assorted sizes) for covering and cleaning small to medium cuts
Elastic bandage (Ace bandage) for sprains, strains and support
First aid tape for securing bandages

Ibuprofen (Advil) for inflammation, pain relief
Antihistamine (Benadryl) for allergies
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief or fever reduction
Sinus/nasal decongestant tablets (Sudafed)
Cough drops/throat lozenges
Anti-diarrheal tablets (Imodium)
Stomach relief tablets (Pepto-Bismol)
Hydrocortisone cream for insect sting or bite relief