Are All First Aid Kits Created Equal? Don’t Find Out in an Emergency


Wait. Aren’t all first aid kits essentially the same? No way!

When an emergency happens, you don’t want to grab your first aid kit only to realize it doesn’t have what you need. A serious cut needs to be treated with more than Band-Aids and gauze. A sprain or strain needs a chemical ice pack. What about cardiac arrest? Do you have a CPR mask?

Not every occasion requiring first aid is life threatening, but providing basic comfort to a victim requires having the right materials on hand.

Even simple problems have the potential to turn nasty. The quality of first aid you provide at the time can prevent a situation from worsening. And the quality of first aid depends on the type of first aid kit you have available.

First aid kits can range from very basic to EMT level. Buying the right one determines what you can and cannot do.

The Basic Home Kit

Unless you’re an EMT or medical professional, you likely have no need for anything more than a basic first aid kit for your home. You’re not expecting major emergencies at home, but you still need to provide relief quickly sometimes.

If you have a box that you cobbled together some years ago, and several of the supplies are ‘original, know that just ‘winging it’ like this is a recipe for being caught short.

It’s inexpensive to buy a first aid kit that’s good for up to 25 people. You’ll then be sure to have what you need for any home issue that may arise. You’ll have adequate adhesive bandages, wrap bandages, gauze, tape, antiseptic solutions, cleansing wipes, pads, scissors, cold pack, and more. If you buy an ANSI-compliant kit (American National Standards Institute), you’ll have something that’s good for workplaces as well and will likely contain even a trauma pad for stopping more serious bleeding.

You should have a few of these kits because they’re ideal for the bathroom, the kitchen, the garage, your bug out bag (emergency kit), the car, the RV, and more. Having extra kits will also ensure you never run out of important supplies at the wrong moment.

If you choose the right kit, it will include clear expiry dates on any items that can perish or go stale.

What If You Need More?

If you have an ANSI-compliant first aid kit for your personal or workplace use, it will cover most problems – at least until further medical attention is administered, if that’s required. What this kind of kit will not handle are more serious injuries (severe bleeding, fractures, etc) and cardiac arrest. So, don’t make the mistake of thinking a simple kit has you ready for anything.

You may need to supplement your supplies with a trauma kit.

Trauma Kit

A trauma kit for your own use should generally be quite simple, lightweight and portable. Some trauma kits you can buy are elaborate, stocked with masses of supplies (most of which the average person has no idea how to use), bulky, and cost up to $300 or more. They’re great, but they’re for personnel trained in more than basic first aid. Stick to your personal needs, skills and budget.

What you need is a small trauma kit with QuikClot clotting sponges that can stop heavy bleeding quickly, some tape, gloves, and a simple, easy-to-use CPR mask. Another kind of trauma kit can still be light and portable while including a SWAT-T tourniquet as used by military units to stop severe extremity blood loss.

If you were to buy a 25-person ANSI-approved first aid kit   and a portable trauma kit for your home or work, you would have pretty much everything you could need in an emergency until paramedics could arrive or you could transport a victim to an ER.

Don’t wait an emergency to arise to discover that your first aid kit is incomplete or out of date or just inadequate. Be like the Boy Scouts – PREPARED – and never be caught short!

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