Emergencies can (and often do) arise when we least expect them. Having a basic understanding of first aid can make all the difference between swift action and uncertainty. Whether it’s a minor injury or sudden illness, possessing the right medical supplies is a crucial step for every household.
Although you can buy ready-made kits with first-aid supplies, they likely won’t cover all of your specific needs. That’s why it pays to educate yourself and add more tailored items to your stash.
At Klingensmith’s Drug Stores, we want to ensure you have everything you need to keep your family safe. To help you out, we’re sharing 10 first-aid preparedness tips everyone should know, including some items you might want to add to your first-aid kit.
1) Own a First-Aid Instruction Book
Let’s be honest—even if you have all the right materials to handle an emergency, you likely don’t know how to use all of them properly.
Look for books that cover basic life-saving first-aid treatment for common injuries and illnesses, CPR, and wound care. Ensure the book is up-to-date, preferably following the latest medical guidelines.
Keep the book alongside your first-aid kit in an easily accessible location, as quick access to information during emergencies is crucial.
2) Customize Your Kit Based on Your Family’s Needs
Not all families have the same needs, so true first-aid preparedness looks different for everyone.
For example, do you have a loved one with a condition like diabetes, a chronic illness, or allergies? If so, your first-aid equipment should include materials specific to their needs.
You should also account for your family members’ ages. For instance, keep chewable aspirin on hand for little ones and buy essential (and specialized) supplies for your elderly relatives.
Don’t forget about individual medications and medical devices. Regularly review and update the kit as your family’s needs evolve. By creating a customized first-aid kit, you ensure that it becomes a reliable lifeline, providing the right kind of aid when it matters most.
3) Take a CPR Class
Knowing CPR is an essential part of first-aid preparedness, and it can be the difference between life and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), performing CPR can double (or even triple) the likelihood that someone will survive cardiac arrest.
However, many people are not trained to administer CPR. Of those that have received training, few are up to date on training procedures.
To find a local CPR class, check with local hospitals, community centers, or Red Cross chapters. Google can also be beneficial in finding both online and in-person classes.
Beyond certification, prioritize staying informed about the latest CPR procedure updates by attending refresher courses. CPR guidelines evolve, so continuous education ensures your skills remain effective and up to date.
4) Use a First-Aid Supplies Checklist
We hope you never have to use your first-aid kit, but chances are, you will at some point.
As you use up your first-aid supplies, remember to replenish them. The best way to do this is to keep a checklist of all your items. Mark items as you use them to stay on top of first-aid preparedness.
As a rule of thumb, here are just some of the medical supplies the Red Cross recommends to keep in your first aid kit:
- Two absorbent compress dressings
- 25 assorted adhesive bandages
- 1 adhesive cloth tape
- Five antibiotic ointment packets
- Five antiseptic wipe packets
- An emergency blanket
- An instant cold compress
- Two triangular bandages
5) Educate Yourself on Different Injury Types
Most injuries aren’t the same and should not be treated as such. For example, a serious burn requires far different treatment from that of a deep cut.
Don’t wait until someone is hurt – educate yourself on dealing with different kinds of injuries upfront so you at least have a surface-level understanding. That, way you can prevent further harm and promote faster healing.
Explore reputable books, online first-aid tips, or enroll in local workshops to expand your knowledge. Familiarize yourself with basic wound care, sprain management, and recognizing signs of more severe injuries. By preparing, you can confidently provide aid when needed and potentially save lives.
6) Get Familiar with the Heimlich Maneuver
Although not technically a part of a first-aid kit, the Heimlich maneuver is an essential part of first-aid preparedness. This life-saving technique is used to dislodge choking hazards from the airway, preventing asphyxiation.
For adults, it involves abdominal thrusts to force air from the lungs and push out the stuck food. However, the Heimlich maneuver for small children and infants differs, with back blows and chest thrusts used to avoid injury.
Understanding the appropriate method for each age group is vital in emergency situations. Online resources and instructional videos can provide a basic understanding of the Heimlich maneuver. To learn more and get trained, consider attending CPR and first aid classes offered by reputable organizations like the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
7) Know the Signs of Allergic Reactions
Nearly 32 million Americans have food allergies. Serious allergic reactions can be frightening and potentially deadly. If you or someone in your family has serious allergies, you need to have all of the necessary allergy equipment on hand.
Reactions often begin about 30 minutes after exposure to an allergen. Some signs may include:
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing
- A suddenly hoarse voice
- Hives or a rash
A first-aid kit for allergic reactions should contain antihistamines (like Benadryl), epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g., EpiPen), hydrocortisone cream, cold packs, and oral pain relievers. Always check for any specific medications recommended by a healthcare professional for individual allergies.
8) Involve the Whole Family in First-Aid Preparedness
It’s not enough for just one parent to know what’s in the kit and how to use it. The whole family should have a deep understanding of the emergency kit and know how to use it effectively.
Learning together as a family reinforces the importance of first aid and creates a sense of responsibility in taking care of each other. Even children can be educated on basic first-aid preparedness and how to contact help when necessary.
By educating the whole family, everyone becomes an active participant in promoting safety and well-being, creating a supportive and prepared environment for any unforeseen situations that may arise.
9) Duplicate Your First-Aid Kit If Necessary
We all have our own hobbies and pastimes. If your hobbies have a higher risk of injury, like hiking, biking, or participating in travel or outdoor-related activities, it may not be enough to just have one first-aid kit per household.
Additionally, you may want to tailor the sets to their locations. For example, an outdoor or adventure first-aid kit will need things like a compass and sunscreen. If you frequently go camping, you should bring fire starters, a whistle, and a multipurpose tool, just in case.
10) Keep Emergency Contact Information Handy
It’s good to include emergency contact numbers and information right on the inside of your first-aid kit. That way, if you lose your emergency kit or need a stranger to administer an item within it, they will know who you are and who to contact for help.
Emergency contact numbers that are essential inside a first aid kit:
- Local emergency services (e.g., 911)
- Poison Control Center
- Personal physician
- Close family/friends for contact during emergencies
This is especially important if someone in your family has chronic health conditions, as you should always include their doctor’s name and number on the list.
Supplement Your First-Aid Kit Today – Visit Klingensmith’s
We can’t predict when an emergency situation will happen, but we can do our best to prepare for them. By educating yourself and your family, making a customized first-aid kit, and being aware of different injuries and medical conditions, you are well on your way to true first-aid preparedness.
If you’re ready to begin crafting your own first-aid kit, visit your local Klingensmith’s Drug Store. Our pharmacy has all of the necessary first-aid supplies you may need, including the ones referenced in this post.
Get started by finding a Klingensmith’s location near you. We operate throughout Pennsylvania, including Ford City, West Kittanning, Numine, and other areas. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Klingensmith’s staff or pharmacists if you have any questions.