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The Ultimate Summer Companion: How to Build a First-Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

Summer is all about fun in the sun, but accidents can happen when you least expect them. Whether you're hiking through the woods or lounging at the beach, it's essential to be prepared for any mishap that might come your way. That's where a well-stocked first-aid kit comes in handy. If you know you’re prepared, it takes the pressure off so your family can enjoy all your favorite warm weather activities with peace of mind.

Why you need a first aid kit

First-aid kits can help save lives by providing basic medical care in an emergency or preventing minor injuries from becoming more serious. Readily available kits also can bring calm to a potentially stressful situation — if you know you have resources available to assist someone who needs medical attention, it can greatly reduce fear and anxiety.

It’s wise to keep one in all the places where you might have an immediate need, including your home, your car, the backpack you take hiking or biking, even your beach bag. And if you have kiddos, it’s especially helpful to know you can save the day when the inevitable mishaps — cuts, ticks, poison ivy, infected bug bites, sunburns — interrupt your day.

Also, treating minor injuries with a well-stocked first-aid kit can eliminate the expense of a trip to the emergency room or urgent care.

Packing your kit

Store-bought first-aid kits can be great in a pinch, but they only contain the basics. These can be handy in an emergency, or to backup the main kit you assembled on your own.

A DIY kit allows you to customize to the specific needs of your family. For instance, if you have a family member with allergies, adding an Epi-pen and some Benadryl would be prudent. If you’d like to include some natural alternatives, like honey (great for minor cuts and burns) or vinegar (great for soothing insect bites and stings), you can add these to your kit. And don’t forget your furry friends if you plan to include them in the fun. Making sure to have any medication your pup could need on a hike, for example, would be good to include. 

Here are some essentials you’ll want to include in your kit:

  1. Water Bottle: Having water to clean out wounds or to rehydrate is a key element of a good first-aid kit.
  2. Benadryl (diphenhydramine): Benadryl is probably the most important over-the-counter medication to have in your first aid kit — it’s a first-line treatment for insect bites, hives and other allergic reactions that can be deadly. Some pre-made kits will include Benadryl tablets. Benadryl is also a great treatment for an attack of seasonal allergies.
  3. Numbing Spray: Wound numbing spray can be purchased over the counter at any pharmacy.
  4. Cold Packs: These can be used to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  5. Nausea Medication: Helpful for kids and adults.
  6. Sunblock: The worst sunburns occur when you least expect it — at sports events or while doing yard work. Have some 30+ sunblock ready and don’t forget your lips. Include some SPF lip balm too.
  7. Decongestant Nasal Spray for Nose Bleeds: Nasal sprays with oxymetazoline are a quick fix for a nosebleed. It helps limit blood flow to the nasal cavity to stop the bleeding.
  8. Hydrocortisone Ointment: This inexpensive over-the-counter medication will treat almost anything that itches — insect bites, poison ivy — and reduce the risk of secondary infection.
  9. Baby Wipes: These are great to have on hand for clean hands or cleaning up cuts even if you don’t have a baby.
  10. Feminine Hygiene Supplies: Besides their obvious uses, tampons and maxi pads are very helpful for wound management. Did you know that the modern tampon was invented in the 1800s for the management of bullet wounds? An OB-style tampon can very effectively treat a persistent nosebleed. The smallest OB tampons fit nicely in the nose. Bleeding wounds can be easily controlled with a maxi pad held in place with an ace wrap.

It's also helpful to have a first-aid manual handy to relive stress during an emergency.

Inventory your kit regularly

Make sure to check your kits every year to replenish items, make sure medications are up to date and get rid of any expired items. You don’t want to reach for an alcohol wipe and find out it’s dried up, or that your aspirin expired a year ago.

Spending a few minutes at the start of the season to put together your first-aid kit is a wise investment. Even if you never end up needing it, the peace of mind you’ll have knowing it’s readily available is priceless.

Whatever adventure summer takes you on this year, BJC HealthCare is available wherever you need us  to provide the extraordinary care you need, when you need it.

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