Building and Storing First Aid Kits

What Should You Keep in Your First Aid Kit?

A first aid kit is an important thing to have around in case of an emergency. Your first aid kit should be easily accessible and portable. You aren't going to be able to pack the kitchen sink in it, but you want a first aid kit that's big enough to carry all of the basics.

A small tackle box makes a good first aid kit or you can use something as simple as a resealable freezer bag. Consider the type of first aid kit you plan to build and where you will keep it.

Woman using first aid kit to treat daughters finger
Zero Creatives / Getty Images

Where to Keep Your First Aid Kit

First aid kits have a habit of ending up in the backyard, upstairs in the attic, out in the garage—basically, anywhere except where you need them in an emergency. Keeping your home first aid kit in a central location helps to ensure that it will be accessible during large or small emergencies.

It's a good idea to maintain two different first aid kits: one for the home and another for the car. Having more than one first aid kit means they will be available at all times.

Some practical places to store first aid kits include:

  • bathroom cabinet
  • kitchen cabinet
  • car (glove compartment is most accessible)
  • boat
  • workshop
  • garage
  • playground
  • classroom
  • church

The Most Important Item for a Car or Boat First Aid Kit

When organizing a mobile first aid kit, such as one for a car or a boat, there's only one item that's absolutely necessary. No matter what you pack for bandaging material, to use for splints, or even if you have a shield for doing mouth-to-mouth, your first aid kit must have a cellular phone. There is no better tool in the event of an emergency. If you can't access emergency medical services, your car or boat first aid kit is not complete.

Cellular phones must have enough battery power to turn the phone on, but you don't need a current contract with a service provider to call 9-1-1 (federal law mandates that cell phones must be able to reach 9-1-1 anytime the number is dialed, regardless of the service agreement).

So take your old cell phone that you don't use anymore and put it in your first aid kit for emergencies. If you don't have an old cell phone, you can find one via various programs that unite old, unused cell phones with people who need them for emergencies.

Medical Information for Your First Aid Kit

While not part of your first aid kit, anyone with a medical condition should have his/her medical information easily accessible at all times. There are several ways to organize medical information and make it available for rescuers.

For the rest of your first aid kit, you'll need:

  • acetaminophen and/or
  • ibuprofen
  • tweezers
  • alcohol wipes
  • antiseptic hand cleanser
  • medical adhesive tape
  • sterile gauze (four-inch squares are best)
  • elastic bandages
  • several sizes of adhesive bandages
  • insect bite swabs
  • triple-antibiotic ointment
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • bandage scissors
  • triangular bandages
  • instant cold packs
  • exam gloves
  • barrier device for CPR

By Rod Brouhard, EMT-P
Rod Brouhard is an emergency medical technician paramedic (EMT-P), journalist, educator, and advocate for emergency medical service providers and patients.