Items Every First Aid Kit Should Have

Every first aid kit evolves to meet the needs of the person or family who created it. Even kits that are purchased whole, with a collection of items bundled together in a convenient package, change over time. No matter what, here are some items that every kit should have.



medical shears

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The basic accouterment of any EMT or paramedic uniform is a pair of medical shears. These things are the true jaws of life. They can cut through anything on your patient—clothes, leather, even sheet metal. They have a blunt end so the patient doesn't get cut and they're angled just right.


Mouth to Mouth Microshield

face shield for mouth to mouth

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Performing mouth to mouth is so uncommon, it can be easy to overlook this addition to the first aid kits. Mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing is not a particularly pleasant experience. Carrying a Microshield makes this task much more bearable and sanitary.

Know where to find this particular piece of equipment in a hurry. It's not a big deal to spend 20 or 30 extra seconds getting your face shield out, but you don't want to stretch that to more than a minute.


Exam Gloves

Pile of blue nitrile gloves

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Bloodborne diseases can be transmitted through very small cracks in the skin. We don't tend to worry too much about the potential for bloodborne diseases when working on a spouse or child, but first aid kits aren't always used on family members.



band-aid box

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These are the mainstays of the first aid kit. There are plenty of brands of adhesive bandages, but ask any kid out there, boo-boos feel better with a Scooby-Doo Band-Aid stuck on it — until Mom has to rip it off.


Hand Cleaners

Woman using hand sanitizer, focus on the hands and sanitizer.

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Hand-washing with warm water and soap is the best way to prevent the spread of infections (yes, even with gloves on). But as we all know, water and soap aren't always available. Carry disinfectants in the first aid kit to always have them on hand.




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Whether it's taking out splinters or ticks, tweezers are an absolute necessity in a home or travel first aid kit.


Cellular Telephone

woman on a cell phone
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There is no first aid kit that can contain every item necessary to take care of any situation. It's impossible to plan for the infinite possibilities.

These days, saying someone should carry a cell phone is like the airlines having to teach you to use a seat belt. On the other hand, my parents didn't both get phones until after their great-grandchildren did.

Anyone who does not carry a cell phone should at least keep one in the first aid kit. Being able to summon help is the only way to be prepared for anything. Any cell phone with a working battery and the ability to get a signal will work — it doesn't even have to have paid service — just be sure to know how to call 911 on a wireless phone.

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