Everyone should have an emergency first-aid kit in their home to use in case of household accidents or injuries. With the proper contents, an emergency kit can assist in everything from splinter removal to resuscitation. You will need additional first-aid provisions to ensure your safety if you are going on a wilderness adventure, or travelling to a remote area. And while a well-packed kit can be great in a pinch, it is no substitute for first-aid training; consider taking a course offered in your area.
What every emergency kit should contain:
• First-aid book/manual. Don't wait for an emergency to read it!
• Pain medication. An over-the-counter drug should do the trick; always consult your doctor before taking any medications.
• Bandages. Have a range of sizes and shapes to cover any cuts or scrapes.
• Gauze and medical tape. Cover bigger cuts with gauze and adhere with medical tape.
• Antibiotic ointment. Applied to minor cuts, scrapes and burns, it will help prevent infection.
• Tweezers. A sterilized pair is great for splinter removal.
• Instant cold compress. With no pre-chilling required, these alternatives to ice packs are convenient for relieving the minor pain and swelling from sprains and sore joints.
• Disposable medical gloves. Wearing gloves while treating an open wound on yourself or someone else will help prevent the spread of dirt and germs.
• Mouth barrier. This small, disposable device will protect you from disease should you need to perform CPR on someone.
• Thermometer. It is important to gauge your temperature while ill, because prolonged fever requires professional medical treatment.
• Saline solution. The safest way to remove dirt from eyes is to flush with an over-the-counter sterile saline solution (don't try to make one yourself).
• Emergency contact information. This list of phone numbers should include the local police and fire departments, poison control, hospital emergency, family doctor's office, and reliable friends or family members whom you trust will respond quickly during a crisis.
Additional contents for outdoor exploring:
• Emergency blanket. Emergency blankets are vacuum-packed to take up less space and they are made for retaining your body heat and protecting you from the elements.
• Bottled water. Bring more than you think you'll need, in case your excursion takes longer than planned. (Also consider packing purification tablets should you run out of clean water and need to rely on natural sources.)
• Whistle or emergency flares. Rely on one of these to send out a call for help should you become lost or injured.
• Flashlight (and extra batteries). In case it takes longer than you thought to return to your cabin or campsite, a flashlight will guide your way after nightfall, and it can be used to signal to searchers.
• Waterproof matches and tinder. To create your own tinder, place wood shavings and lint from your dryer - which will easily start a fire - in a sealable plastic bag.
• High-energy snacks. Dried fruit, granola, energy bars or trail mix all pack a powerful punch.
• Insect repellant and sunscreen. These will keep you comfortable and safe while enjoying the outdoors.
• Hand sanitizer. To prevent chemicals from coming in contact with eyes, nose or mouth, clean hands immediately after applying lotions or repellants. To prevent infection, apply to hands before treating an open cut on yourself or someone else.
• Multi-tool. A sharp knife and pair of scissors safely contained are essential in the outdoors.
• Prescription medications. So you don't miss a dose when your excursion takes longer than you'd planned.