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First-aid kit basics

Be prepared in an emergency

First-aid kit basics

To be prepared for emergencies, keep a well-stocked first-aid kit in your home, boat * and car.

You can purchase a kit from the Red Cross Store or your local American Red Cross chapter as well as your local drug store or big box retailer.

You can also make your own. Some kits are designed for specific activities, such as hiking, camping or boating. Whether you buy a first-aid kit or put one together, make sure it has all the items you need. Include any personal items such as medications and emergency phone numbers or other items your health care provider may suggest.

Check the kit regularly. Make sure the flashlight batteries work. Check expiration dates, and replace used or out-of-date contents.

The Red Cross recommends that all first-aid kits for a family of four include the following:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pairs of nonlatex gloves (size large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • First-aid instruction booklet

* Boaters should carry a first-aid kit appropriate for their operating area, the time it would take to receive emergency medical assistance and the length of their trip. One source of marine first-aid kits is www.adventuremedicalkits.com. [Updated 7 March 2014]

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