Keep one kit in the house — and one in the car. / Knauer/Johnston/Getty Images
If you’re often searching for that elusive Band-Aid while trying to keep your freshly cut finger from bleeding, it’s time to assemble a first-aid kit. Having supplies in one well-stocked bag can help you better respond to injuries and emergencies. You’ll need:
How-to manual. Should you ice a burn? Bandage a sprain snugly? You could Google what to do, but it helps to have a paper guide handy. Download a free manual from the American College of Emergency Physicians, or purchase a guide from the American Red Cross. The answers, by the way, are no and no: It’s cool water for a minor burn and loose wrapping on a sprain.
List of emergency numbers. That includes contact info for your doctor and pediatrician, poison control center and local emergency services. Also keep in your kit medical consent and history forms for each family member.
Aspirin. Kids under 19 shouldn’t take it, but adults having a heart attack might need it. If you’re experiencing symptoms, call 911. The operator may tell you to chew an aspirin. Toss two packets of tablets in your kit, as well as non-aspirin pain relievers and allergy medications.
Bandages. About 25 (in assorted shapes and sizes) is a good amount for a family of four. You also want elastic wraps, gauze rolls and pads, and adhesive tape.
Cleansers. Keep antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide and antiseptic solution for disinfection and alcohol-based hand sanitizer for your car kit so you can clean your hands before and after treating injuries.
Itch and irritation relievers. For bug bites, poison ivy and some rashes, get hydrocortisone cream. Calamine lotion helps with itchy skin and minor irritations; aloe vera gel works well on burns.
Tweezers and other tools. To pluck out splinters, stingers and more, get first-aid tweezers. The other “tools”: Latex-free gloves, sharp scissors with rounded tips and a thermometer.