"Safety first!" is a good motto to have, but that won't clean a cut or quell an allergic reaction. That's why you need a first aid kit. Whether you're looking for one to keep in your car, in your house, or while you're on the go, it's important to have some means of treating injuries big (until help arrives) and small. You can buy a first aid kit stocked with all the essentials or you can follow our guide and build your own.
* '''Keep an eye on expiration dates''': Make sure that anything with an expiration date, like antibiotic ointment or sunscreen, is kept current.
* '''Know how to use the items in the kit''': Familiarize yourself with a first aid manual and keep it with the first aid kit at all times. This assures that you will have a decent grasp of the material in the event of an emergency. If you forget any of the details, you can easily access the instructions within the kit.
* '''Help others hep you''': Keep a list of emergency contacts in the kit as well as important personal medical details. The following contacts are of particular importance:
** Local police and fire department phone numbers.
** Names and numbers of family doctors and pediatricians, and possibly the family veterinarian or animal hospital.
** The names and birth dates of every family member, and information about any food or medical allergies, required medications, or other medical needs.
* '''Be prepared''': Learn CPR and take a first aid course if you can. These skills are invaluable and could help you save someone's life--possibly even your own.
* '''Know before you go''': If you are traveling taking, familiarize yourself with your destination. Some areas may have dangerous or venomous wildlife, while others are notorious for having polluted water. Be sure you know what to avoid and stock your travel first aid kit with whatever safety precautions you might need. This is also important when traveling to places where English is not widely spoken.
When building a travel first aid kit, consider how long you plan to be gone (overnight, a week, longer?), and get an idea of how dangerous the area you are visiting is (backcountry vs. foreign country). Perhaps even think about how many people of different ages you will be traveling with. You may also want to look into Outdoor Emergency Equipment.
You should also consider carrying a more portable first aid kit for general walking about. It's important to clean cuts and scrapes quickly, right? Look for a simple set, which will contain no more than a few bandages, some alcohol pads, and room for a pain reliever packet. This can fit in a purse or backpack; it's great to have if you're taking a child to the park or out for a walk, since a full kit might be overkill.
Car First Aid Kits
Your car first aid kit will typically contain the same things you find in your home kit, but in smaller quantities and packages. There are a few additional things specific to a roadside emergency that should be in there as well. Here are some basics, but for the details, see Emergency Road Kits.
* Cash (at least $20) and loose change for phone calls.
* Emergency whistle
* Roadside flares
* More than one emergency blanket
* Extra winter gloves
* Pencil and paper
Pet First Aid Kits
Pets also require first aid treatment, and have their own kits on the market. You can also build your own kit that will be able to handle your pet's specific needs. Most of the things you keep for yourself--bandages, antiseptics, etc.--can be helpful for your dog or cat, but ''never'' administer human medications unless you have been instructed to do so by your vet since. A great many medications can be harmful to animals.
* In addition to the usual supplies, keep a muzzle, leash, or other restraining devices with the kit.
* Another useful item is an Elizabethan collar that will keep your pet from licking or chewing an injury. They're also handy to have around after the vet takes a look at them, since pets will also lick stitches.