First aid kit

A first aid kit is a collection of supplies
and equipment for use in giving first aid, and can be put together for the purpose by
an individual or organization or purchased complete. There is a wide variation in the contents
of first aid kits based on the knowledge and experience of those putting it together, the
differing first aid requirements of the area where it may be used and variations in legislation
or regulation in a given area. The international standard for first aid kits
is that they should be identified with the ISO graphical symbol for first aid which is
an equal white cross on a green background, although many kits do not comply with this
standard, either because they are put together by an individual or they predate the standards. Format
First aid kits can be assembled in almost any type of container, and this will depend
on whether they are commercially produced or assembled by an individual. Standard kits often come in durable plastic
boxes, fabric pouches or in wall mounted cabinets. The type of container will vary depending
on purpose, and they range in size from wallet sized through to large rucksacks. It is recommended that all kits are in a clean,
waterproof container to keep the contents safe and aseptic. Kits should also be checked regularly and
restocked if any items are damaged or are expired out of date. Appearance
The International Organization for Standardization sets a standard for first aid kits of being
green, with a white cross, in order to make them easily recognizable to anyone requiring
first aid. The ISO only endorse the use of the green
background and white cross, and this has been adopted as standard across many countries
and regions, including the entire EU. First aid kits are sometimes marked with a
red cross on white background, but use of this symbol by anyone but the International
Committee of the Red Cross or associated agency is illegal under the terms of the First Geneva
Convention, which designates the red cross as a protected symbol in all countries signatory
to it. One of the few exceptions is in North America,
where despite the passing of the First Geneva convention in 1864, and its ratification in
the United States in 1881, Johnson & Johnson has used the red cross as a mark on its products
since 1887 and registered the symbol as a U.S. trademark for medicinal and surgical
plasters in 1905. Some first aid kits may also feature the Star
of Life, normally associated with emergency medical services, but which are also used
to indicate that the service using it can offer an appropriate point of care. However, for very small medical institutions
and domestic purposes, the white cross on a plain green background is preferred. Contents Commercially available first aid kits available
via normal retail routes have traditionally been intended for treatment of minor injuries
only. Typical contents include adhesive bandages,
regular strength pain medication, gauze and low grade disinfectant. Specialized first aid kits are available for
various regions, vehicles or activities, which may focus on specific risks or concerns related
to the activity. For example, first aid kits sold through marine
supply stores for use in watercraft may contain seasickness remedies. Airway, Breathing and Circulation
First aid treats the ABCs as the foundation of good treatment. For this reason, most modern commercial first
aid kits will contain a suitable infection barrier for performing artificial respiration
as part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, examples include:
Pocket mask Face shield
Advanced first aid kits may also contain items such as:
Oropharyngeal airway Nasopharyngeal airway
Bag valve mask Manual aspirator or suction unit
Sphygmomanometer Stethoscope
The common kits mostly found in the homes may contain: Alcohol, Bandaids, Cotton Balls,
Cotton Swabs, Iodine, Bandage, Hydrogen Paroxide, Trauma injuries
Trauma injuries, such as bleeding, bone fractures or burns, are usually the main focus of most
first aid kits, with items such as bandages and dressings being found in the vast majority
of all kits. Adhesive bandages – can include ones shaped
for particular body parts, such as knuckles Moleskin— for blister treatment and prevention Dressings
Sterile eye pads Sterile gauze pads
Sterile non-adherent pads, containing a non-stick teflon layer
Petrolatum gauze pads, used as an occlusive dressing for sucking chest wounds, as well
as a non-stick dressing Bandages
Gauze roller bandages – absorbent, breathable, and often elastic
Elastic bandages – used for sprains, and pressure bandages
Adhesive, elastic roller bandages – very effective pressure bandages and durable, waterproof
bandaging Triangular bandages – used as slings, tourniquets,
to tie splints, and many other uses Butterfly closure strips – used like stitches
to close wounds, usually only included for higher level response as can seal in infection
in uncleaned wounds. Saline-used for cleaning wounds or washing
out foreign bodies from eyes soap – used with water to clean superficial
wounds once bleeding is stopped Antiseptic wipes or sprays for reducing the
risk of infection in abrasions or around wounds. Dirty wounds must be cleaned for antiseptics
to be effective. Burn dressing, which is usually a sterile
pad soaked in a cooling gel Adhesive tape, hypoallergenic
Hemostatic agents may be included in first aid kits, especially military or tactical
kits, to promote clotting for severe bleeding. Personal protective equipment The use of personal protective equipment or
PPE will vary by kit, depending on its use and anticipated risk of infection. The adjuncts to artificial respiration are
covered above, but other common infection control PPE includes:
Gloves which are single use and disposable to prevent cross infection
Goggles or other eye protection Surgical mask or N95 mask to reduce possibility
of airborne infection transmission Apron
Instruments and equipment Trauma shears for cutting clothing and general
use Scissors are less useful but often included
Tweezers, for removing splinters amongst others. Lighter for sanitizing tweezers or pliers
etc. Alcohol pads for sanitizing equipment, or
unbroken skin. This is sometimes used to debride wounds,
however some training authorities advise against this as it may kill cells which bacteria can
then feed on Irrigation syringe – with catheter tip for
cleaning wounds with sterile water, saline solution, or a weak iodine solution. The stream of liquid flushes out particles
of dirt and debris. Torch
Instant-acting chemical cold packs Alcohol rub or antiseptic hand wipes
Thermometer Space blanket
Penlight Cotton swab
Cotton wool, for applying antiseptic lotions. Safety pins, for pinning bandages. Medication
Medication can be a controversial addition to a first aid kit, especially if it is for
use on members of the public. It is, however, common for personal or family
first aid kits to contain certain medications. Dependent on scope of practice, the main types
of medicine are life saving medications, which may be commonly found in first aid kits used
by paid or assigned first aiders for members of the public or employees, painkillers, which
are often found in personal kits, but may also be found in public provision and lastly
symptomatic relief medicines, which are generally only found in personal kits. Life saving
Aspirin primarily used for central medical chest pain as an anti-platelet
Epinephrine autoinjector – often included in kits for wilderness use and in places such
as summer camps, to treat anaphylactic shock. Pain killers
Paracetamol is one of the most common pain killing medication, as either tablet or syrup
Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen or other NSAIDs can be used as part
of treating sprains and strains Codeine which is both a painkiller and anti-diarrheal
Symptomatic relief Anti diarrhoea medication such as Loperamide
– especially important in remote or third world locations where dehydration caused by
diarrhea is a leading killer of children Oral rehydration salts
Antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine Poison treatments
Absorption, such as activated charcoal Emetics to induce vomiting, such as syrup
of ipecac although first aid manuals now advise against inducing vomiting. Smelling Salts
Topical medications Antiseptic ointment, fluid, moist wipe or
spray, including benzalkonium chloride, Neomycin, Polymyxin B Sulphate or Bacitracin Zinc. Povidone iodine is an antiseptic in the form
of liquid, swabstick, or towelette Aloe vera gel – used for a wide variety of
skin problems, including burns, sunburns, itching, and dry skin; used as a substitute
for triple-antibiotic gel to keep a wound moist and prevent bandages from sticking
Burn gel – a water-based gel that acts as a cooling agent and often includes a mild
anaesthetic such as lidocaine and, sometimes, an antiseptic such as tea tree oil
Anti-itch ointment Hydrocortisone cream
antihistamine cream containing diphenhydramine Calamine lotion, for skin inflammations. Anti-fungal cream
Tincture of benzoin – often in the form of an individually sealed swabstick, protects
the skin and aids the adhesion of butterfly strips or adhesive bandages. Improvised uses
Besides its regular use in first aid, many first-aid items can also have improvised uses
in a survival situation. For example, alcohol pads and petroleum jelly-based
ointments can be used as a fire-starting aid in an emergency, and the latter can even be
used as an improvised lubricant for certain mechanical devices, and adhesive tapes and
bandages can be used for repairs. These alternate uses can be an important consideration
when picking items for a kit that may be used in wilderness or survival situations. An alternative could however also be the use
of additional kits with tools such as Survival kits and Mini survival kits. Workplace first aid kit
In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires all job
sites and workplaces to make available first aid equipment for use by injured employees
. While providing regulations for some industries such as logging in general the regulation
lack specifics on the contents of the first aid kit. This is understandable, as the regulation
covers every means of employment, and different jobs have different types of injuries and
different first-aid requirements. However, in a non-mandatory section, the OSHA
regulations do refer to ANSI/ISEA Specification Z308.1 as the basis for the suggested minimum
contents of a first aid kit. Another source for modern first aid kit information
is United States Forest Service Specification 6170-6 , which specifies the contents of several
different-sized kits, intended to serve groups of differing size. In general, the type of first aid facilities
required in a workplace are determined by many factors, such as:
the laws and regulation of the state or territory in which it is located;
the type of industry concerned; for example, industries such as mining may have specific
industry regulations detailing specialised instructions;
the type of hazards present in the workplace; the number of employees in the workplace;
the number of different locations that the workplace is spread over;
the proximity to local services. Historic first aid kits As the understanding of first aid and lifesaving
measures has advanced, and the nature of public health risks has changed, the contents of
first aid kits have changed to reflect prevailing understandings and conditions. For example, earlier US Federal specifications
for first aid kits included incision/suction-type snakebite kits and mercurochrome antiseptic. There are many historic components no longer
used today, of course; some notable examples follow. As explained in the article on snakebite,
the historic snakebite kit is no longer recommended. Mercurochrome is not approved by the US FDA
due to concerns over mercury poisoning. Examples of modern additions include the CPR
face shields and specific body-fluid barriers included in modern kits, to assist in CPR
and to help prevent the spread of bloodborne pathogens such as HIV. See also
First aid Bug-out bag
Medical bag Injury
References External links
How to make your own first-aid kit, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Red Cross’ Anatomy of a First Aid Kit