Unless we are particularly accident-prone, first aid kits are usually an afterthought. Most of the time, they sit in the bathroom or kitchen, collecting dust and expiring. Then, on the rare occasion that you slice your finger or get stung by a bee in the garden, you pull the kit out only to realize that all of the Band-Aids have been used, and the Neosporin is desperately out of date.

A poorly kept kit is not just an inconvenience; as we get older, cuts and minor injuries can turn into painful and dangerous problems. First aid kits are also not only for you — grandchildren have a knack for getting themselves into sticky situations, and it could be life-saving to have important numbers and medications handy.

First aid kits should be kept at home and in the car, and should include at least:

Bandages and dressings

  • Adhesive bandages (Band-Aid or similar brand); assorted sizes
  • Aluminum finger splints
  • Elastic (ACE) bandage for wrapping wrist, ankle, knee and elbow injuries
  • Eye shield, pads and bandages
  • Latex or non-latex gloves to reduce contamination risk
  • Sterile gauze pads and adhesive tape
  • Triangular bandage for wrapping injuries and making an arm sling
  • Home health equipment

  • Blue “baby bulb” suction device
  • Disposable, instant ice bags
  • First aid manual
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Latex or non-latex gloves to reduce contamination risk
  • Save-A-Tooth storage device in case a tooth is broken or knocked out; contains a travel case and salt solution
  • Sterile cotton balls
  • Sterile cotton-tipped swabs
  • Syringe, medicine cup or medicine spoon for giving specific doses of medicine
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers, to remove ticks and small splinters
  • Medicine for cuts and injuries

  • Antiseptic solution or wipes, such as hydrogen peroxide, povidone iodine or chlorhexidine
  • Antibiotic ointment, such as bacitracin, polysporin or mupirocin
  • Sterile eyewash, such as contact lens saline solution
  • Calamine lotion for stings or poison ivy
  • Hydrocortisone cream, ointment or lotion for itching.
  • You should also include emergency phone numbers and a list of your prescriptions, and consult with your health care provider to see if you should stock anything else (like something to eat if you have hypoglycemia, or an EpiPen if you have severe allergies).

    If you would rather not spend time putting a first aid kit together, most stores have pre-made packages you can purchase, or you can find some online (the Red Cross is a great resource). Once you have them, you should regularly check your kits to make sure they are well-stocked and up to date.

    Springtime means the advent of fishing season, more time in the garden, more travel and more movement in general. Being active is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself, and staying active means taking care of minor cuts, bumps, bites and bruises along the way.

    Julian Uselman, D.O., is a primary care provider at Silverton Family Physicians. To schedule an appointment, call 503-873-5667.

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