What should come in a first aid kit?

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:


Whether it’s at home or in the workplace, keeping a well-stocked first aid kit handy is very important. Accidents don’t give a warning before they happen, so it’s good to always be prepared in the event of a minor emergency, with all the tools that could be required.

But what exactly needs to be inside a first aid kit for it to be considered well stocked? And how do I know which type of first aid kit is right for me? Keep reading to find out more information.

Why is having a first aid kit important?

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require all employers to provide adequate and appropriate first aid equipment to ensure that employees can receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or are injured at work – preventing minor injuries from becoming major ones and possibly saving lives.

To find out which kind of equipment you should keep on site, you will need to carry out a first aid assessment. This should take into account the level of hazards, workplace environment and number of employees. If your workplace is open to members of the public, they will also need to be taken into consideration during the assessment.

This assessment is equally as important at home. If you have super active toddlers (or clumsy adults!) in the house, things like scratches and cut knees can be a regular occurrence. So you need to make sure your first aid kit contains adequate supplies for all ages.

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What should a basic first aid include?

A first aid kit should contain all the basic, necessary equipment needed to treat superficial injuries that don’t require emergency attention. This includes:

  • Sterile dressings – including individually wrapped wound or adhesive dressings and plasters
  • Bandages – such as roller, triangular or tubular bandages
  • A thermometer (preferably digital) – to check and confirm high body temperatures
  • Personal protective items – including gloves and/or a plastic face shield or pocket mask
  • Cleansing alcohol-free wipes -– to clean the skin around the wound
  • Gauze pads – to use as padding, or as swabs to clean around the wounds
  • Sterile eye pads – to provide initial protection from possible infection
  • Adhesive tape – to hold dressings in place or to hold the loose end of bandages
  • Scissors – to cut bandages or sticky tape, or someone’s clothing if you need to get to a wound
  • Pins and clips – to fasten loose ends of bandages
  • Antiseptic cream -–for minor scratches, bites and stings
  • Skin rash cream – such as a mild topical steroid (1% hydrocortisone)
  • Aluminium blanket – used to help retain body heat in survival, emergency and first aid situations
  • A leaflet that provides general guidance on first aid

Of course, the list of items that you could include in your first aid kit is endless, especially taking into account where the kit will be stored and the age range of people most likely to use it.

You could even purchase a basic first aid kit from a chemist and add personal items to it as you wish, from prescription medication to anti-allergy shots. This way you can create your own first kit that is tailored to you and your employees’ or your family’s needs.

What should a specialised first aid kit include?

Some workplaces will require other types of safety equipment that are not included as standard within a basic first aid kit.

These include kits made especially for burns, which contain essential supplies for responding to burns and scalds. Or eyewash stations that are designed for use in garages, workshops, welding areas and other industrial environments where there are potential eye-related hazards.

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How often should I restock my first aid kit?

It’s important to review your first aid kit from time to time. This way you can make a note of anything that has been used so it can be replaced.

During the review, you should also check things like expiry dates and amounts left in the boxes or tubes. Sterile items and medicines, in particular, have a limited shelf life and lose their sterility after a period of time, so it’s important to regularly check and remove anything that is no longer safe to use.

Don’t forget that first aid kits are not sufficient to deal with life-threatening emergencies. If these occur,  always dial 999 and contact your designated first aider to attend to the casualty until the emergency crew arrives.

Author Bio: First Mats started life as safety matting specialists, but have since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk