Skip to main content
reviewed 8/11/2018

First aid essentials

How to make a kit fit for first aid

20 essentials for your first aid kit

Make yours

When you’ve got a cut, a bite or a burn, a fully stocked first aid kit is a good place to turn. Here’s where to keep yours.

When you need basic first aid, reach for a kit that’s fit for the job. Stock it with the items below.

Adhesive bandages in assorted shapes and sizes to cover small cuts or scrapes.

Antibiotic ointment to protect wounds from infection.

Safety pins to fasten wraps and bandages.

Triangular bandages to make a sling.

Scissors for cutting gauze and adhesive cloth tape to keep it in place.

Tweezers to remove ticks, insect stingers or splinters.

A thermometer for checking body temperature.

Hydrocortisone cream for itching and rashes.

Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs for dressing wounds.

Antihistamines to treat allergies and swelling.

Gauze pads and a gauze roll to cover larger cuts or scrapes.

An elastic bandage to wrap joint injuries.

Non-latex gloves to protect hands from blood or body fluids.

Antiseptic wipes and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect wounds or clean hands.

A breathing barrier with a 1-way valve for giving CPR.

A space blanket to provide warmth.

Calamine lotion for insect stings or poison ivy.

Instantly activating cold pack for injuries.

Pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Aspirin can be used for adults having heart attacks.

First-aid manual and a list of emergency contacts.

Kit tips

Whether to create your first aid kit or buy a pre-made one, keep these tips in mind:

Tailor your kit to meet your family’s needs.

Keep 1 kit in your house and another in your car.

Check the kit regularly.

Replace items as you use them and as they expire.

Use the kit for minor medical issues—call 911 in an emergency.

Images may not be to scale.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Emergency Physicians; American Red Cross

Related stories