Should I buy a prepackaged first-aid kit?
The prepackaged first-aid kits currently available are economical and contain many of the essential items. No single commercial product, however, will contain everything you need in your personalized family kit. So you can start with a prepackaged kit and add the extra items you require, or build your own first-aid kit from scratch.
You'll also need to keep many of the same items in your medicine chest to treat your young child's everyday ups and downs.
Do I need more than one first-aid kit?
It all depends on your needs and your lifestyle. You may want a large kit for home base; a small kit for your purse, backpack, or diaper bag; and a kit for the car that goes with you whenever you travel. (Keep in mind that extreme heat or cold can render some medications ineffective, so if you have a kit in your car you'll need to replace some of its contents regularly.)
For safety's sake, store all kits in a lunch box or tackle box or a zippered bag that's out of reach of curious babies and children. Many items in a first-aid kit can be hazardous if left within reach of a child.
Emergency names and numbers
The most important items in your family's first-aid kit may actually be names and numbers. Securely tape, glue, or sew the following contact information inside your kit:
- Your family doctor or pediatrician
- Your local hospital
- The American Association of Poison Control Centers' national emergency hotline: (800) 222-1222
- Your local police and fire departments
- Your two closest neighbors (in case you need immediate assistance, such as childcare for an older sibling or a ride to the hospital). You'll also want to post these names and numbers on the refrigerator for your convenience and for babysitters.
Filling the kit
Here are your first-aid kit must-haves:
- Infant and/or child thermometers (both digital and ear or rectal)
- Children's and/or infants' acetaminophen and ibuprofen, as recommended by your doctor, to relieve fever and mild pain
- Antihistamines, as recommended by your doctor, for insect bites, hives, and allergic reactions
- Topical calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream (.5%) for insect bites and rashes
- Rubbing alcohol swabs to clean thermometers, tweezers, and scissors
- Petroleum jelly to lubricate rectal thermometers
- Antibiotic ointment for cuts and scrapes
- Irrigating eye wash to rinse irritants from eyes
- Saline nose drops to clear stuffy noses
- Aloe gel for burns
- Tweezers for removing splinters and ticks
- A pair of sharp scissors
- Child-safe sunscreen (See sun safety and sunscreen guidelines.)
- Child-safe insect repellent
- Nasal aspirator bulb (not a pointy-ended ear syringe)
- An assortment of adhesive bandage strips in various sizes and shapes (for children's sensitive skin, get the less-sticky kind)
- Gauze rolls (1/2 to 2 inches wide)
- Gauze pads (2 by 2 inches and 4 by 4 inches)
- Adhesive tape
- Sterile cotton balls
- Cotton-tipped swabs
- Non-latex gloves
- Mild liquid soap (many soaps for adults are too strong for babies' sensitive skin)
- An oral syringe or calibrated cup or spoon for administering medicines
- A package of tongue depressors for checking sore throats
- A hot water bottle and an ice pack
- A small flashlight to check ears, nose, throat, and eyes
- Blanket (space blanket)
- First-aid manual: American Medical Association Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care
Additional items to include if recommended by your doctor:
- Rehydration fluids to rehydrate children with diarrhea
- Epinephrine injector, asthma inhaler, or other prescription medication if your child is allergic to bee stings, peanuts, or shellfish or has some other type of life-threatening allergy