What Every First Aid Kit Needs

A well-stocked first aid kit can help you take effective action in an emergency situation. Here are the specific items that you should stock in first aid kits for your home, your car and the great outdoors.

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What is in a first aid kit - mother treating injured daughter with antiseptic at home
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First aid kit essentials for the home

Keep a watertight box containing:

  • Alcohol-free antiseptic wipes
  • Alcohol gel
  • Latex-free disposable gloves
  • Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • Sterile dressings in assorted sizes
  • Sterile eye pad
  • Triangular bandages
  • Safety pins in assorted sizes
  • Crepe roller bandages of different widths
  • Elastic bandage
  • Combined sterile dressing and bandage
  • Adhesive tape
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Digital thermometer
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Man with first aid kit in car
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First aid kit essentials for the car

Customize a first aid kit that’s designed to be kept in your car. It should include:

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Dressing pads
  • Gauze swabs
  • Sterile dressings
  • Adhesive tape
  • Disposable gloves
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable face shield
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Thermal blanket
  • Note pad and pencil
  • Flashlight
  • Clinical waste bag

Check out our ultimate roadside emergency guide.

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Woman on a mountain using first aid kit
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First aid kit for outdoor activities

When camping or hiking, consider purchasing a pouch travel kit that can easily be carried. It should include:

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Bandages
  • Dressings
  • Disposable gloves
  • Sterile dressings
  • Wipes
  • Safety pins

Don’t miss these natural disaster survival tips from a Red Cross volunteer.

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Medical first aid kit with medicine and pills for pain and illness
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Useful medication for first aid kits

Go beyond the basics by adding these medications to your kit (particularly when travelling), but be mindful of expiration dates:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Rehydration salts
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Antihistamine tablets or syrup
  • Insect repellent
  • Antihistamine cream

Now that you know the first aid kit essentials, test your knowledge of first aid terms.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Quintessential Guide to Handling Emergencies

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