During these summer months my family is always on the go. We venture out several times a week on family “field trips”, we travel to visit family members, we go camping. And one of the things that I like to have with me in my car is a well-stocked first-aid kit. Because I firmly believe that having one of these with you is kind of like carrying an umbrella in your purse… when you have one it never rains! So if you have the first aid kit…. it helps to ward off all of the injuries that so easily seem to happen to my kids! (Um, okay, and of course it allows me to be prepared when they do happen!) Today one of my blogging buds Dr. Debi Gilboa (“Doc G”) shares her advice on making your own first aid kit (so you don't have to spend a fortune on one of those store-bought kits that are not nearly as well-stocked as you might think!)
Whether you are headed down the road for the day or out of town for a week, you can be ready for the minor emergencies that happen every summer! Those store bought kits are expensive, and not as useful as we'd like to believe – they’re mostly geared towards adults, and set up for people with first aid training. Here’s the stuff you can actually use.
Grab a Bag… and Go!
Pick a bag that is a disgustingly loud color or print – something you or an older child can find easily underneath all the sports equipment, luggage and junk that will cover it in your trunk. The more pockets the better!
Pack These Items in Your First Aid Kit!
- A first aid manual. Knowledge is power, and you need something with easy to access information that doesn’t require a course in Medical Terminology. There are great books like First Aid for Babies and Children Fast, or laminated cards with first aid information grouped by subject.
- *Cold packs! The fun character shaped ones that are cold but not frozen, or the practical freezer packs can go in your cooler to keep snacks cold and then be available for small boo-boos, sunburns and mosquito bites, as well as larger injuries.
- *Motion sickness bands. For anyone who gets car sick, or goes on one too many roller coasters, or even starts to come down with a stomach bug, these tiny additions to your first aid kit can make the difference between an uncomfortable kiddo and actual vomiting (and all the other kids getting sick from that!). Grab Sea Bands on Amazon or a generic from any pharmacy.
- Spray bottle with water. From the cleaning section of any grocery store grab a bottle with a nozzle that can squirt or spray and fill it with water. Put this in the side pocket of your bag and don’t worry about the water getting warm (make sure it’s not HOT when you use it). This is great for cleaning out cuts and scrapes, or getting dirt or other irritants out of eyes. Also fill it with cold water and spray heat-tired kids on the back of the neck and wrists to feel cool fast. Make sure they drink some too! Spraying a burn with cold water will stop the burn from progressing as fast.
- *Band-Aids in a bunch of sizes! From round band-aids to regular to extra large, these are great for mosquito bites and cuts, larger abrasions and contact burns (as opposed to sunburns – usually too large for a band-aid to cover. Don’t forget to wash them first!
- Size 6 diapers. Even if you’re “out of diapers” at your house, these are (as you probably recall) fantastically absorbent! Hand one to a child who thinks they might throw up – it will absorb any fluid and can be rolled up and disposed of easily. Also grab one to apply pressure to a site that is bleeding more than a tissue could stop. Don’t worry, you can do this with one hand while dialing 911 with the other!
- *Baby wipes. Honestly, don’t you love these things? These are excellent for quickly cleaning your own hands before dealing with a cut or any other open skin, and for cleaning up after the emergency is handled. Don’t touch an open cut or scrape or burn with a wipe, though, it will sting!
- An old credit card or hotel keycard and tweezers. These plastic cards aren’t just great for scraping ice off a windshield, they are excellent for getting splinters and stingers out. Rub the card across the sticker to bring it up a little before grabbing with the tweezers.
- Ace bandage and a bag of rice. A 2” or 3” wide elastic wrap is handy for any sprain or strain, it gives extra support and helps cut down on swelling. Elevate the injured limb and rest it on the bag of rice for a lot more comfort. Also the bag of rice is good to have for cell phone first aid if yours gets dropped in water!
- *Medicines. Find or buy a toiletry kit for these meds. Put in an extra supply of any prescription medicines a member of your family needs, in the original bottle. Then get the following over-the-counter meds in the form (liquid, chewable tablet, dissolving tablet, pill) that works best for your group:
- acetaminophen (that’s Tylenol) for pain or fever
- ibuprofen (also knows as Advil or Motrin) for swelling, pain or fever – great after a burn or sprain.
- Diphenhydramine (that’s Benadryl) for an internal or external allergic reaction, like to poison ivy
- 1% hydrocortisone cream for itches and burns
- After Bite
- Gly-oxide for tongue, lip and inside of the cheek cuts or sores
- Triple anti-biotic ointment for cuts and scrapes after they’re clean before the band-aid.
I recommend asking your doctor if each of these are OK for your kids, and for the weight-correct doses for each child for a, b and c. Then put that info on an index card inside the toiletry kit.
*Great items to tuck into your purse or diaper bag for when your first aid kit is out of reach!
Dr. G (Deborah Gilboa, MD) is a family doctor, mom of four and founder of AskDoctorG.com, a resource for parents and educators with child development or behavior concerns. You can find her and ask her questions on her site, on twitter, or facebook, or even Google Plus!