A well-stocked first-aid kit can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. Keep at least one first-aid kit in your home and one in your car. Store your kits someplace easy to get to and out of the reach of young children. Make sure children old enough to understand the purpose of the kits know where they're stored.

You can buy first-aid kits at many drugstores or assemble your own. You may want to tailor your kit based on your activities and needs. A basic first-aid kit includes:

Basic supplies

  • Adhesive tape
  • Elastic wrap bandages
  • Bandage strips and "butterfly" bandages in assorted sizes
  • Nonstick sterile bandages and roller gauze in assorted sizes
  • Eye shield or pad
  • Triangular bandage
  • Aluminum finger split
  • Instant cold packs
  • Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
  • Disposable nonlatex examination gloves, several pairs
  • Duct tape
  • Petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Plastic bags, assorted sizes
  • Safety pins in assorted sizes
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Soap or hand sanitizer
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antiseptic solution and towelettes
  • Eyewash solution
  • Thermometer
  • Turkey baster or other bulb suction device for flushing wounds
  • Breathing barrier
  • Syringe, medicine cup or spoon
  • First-aid manual


  • Aloe vera gel
  • Calamine lotion
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Laxative
  • Antacids
  • Antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine
  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and aspirin (never give aspirin to children)
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Cough and cold medications
  • Personal medications that don't need refrigeration
  • Auto-injector of epinephrine, if prescribed by your doctor

Emergency items

  • Emergency phone numbers, including contact information for your family doctor and pediatrician, local emergency services, emergency road service providers, and the poison help line, which in the United States is 800-222-1222.
  • Medical consent forms for each family member
  • Medical history forms for each family member
  • Small, waterproof flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
  • Waterproof matches
  • Small notepad and waterproof writing instrument
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Cell phone with solar charger
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • Whistle

Give your kit a checkup

Check your first-aid kits regularly to be sure the flashlight batteries work and to replace supplies that have expired or been used up.

Consider taking a first-aid course through the American Red Cross. Contact your local chapter for information on classes.

Prepare children for medical emergencies in age-appropriate ways. The American Red Cross offers a number of helpful resources, including classes designed to help children understand and use first-aid techniques.

April 17, 2015