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31 Essential Items Everyone Needs to Have in Their Home First-Aid Kit

A medical emergency can occur at anytime, anywhere, so being prepared is important. Having a first-aid kit at home is essential in dealing with emergencies. Even though ready-made first-aid kits are available at the store, creating your own is not only easy but you can customize it according to the specific needs of your family members.

Bright Side put together a guide on how to build your own first-aid kit and which essential items should be stocked in it. Don’t miss our bonus at the end!

Choosing and maintaining your first-aid kit

  1. Picking a good container:
    • A large, translucent, water-resistant, plastic container with either a latch-top or a zipper closure can make a good first-aid kit. Lunch boxes can also be considered for this purpose.
    • The kit should be easy to carry, so having a handle is useful.
    • Various items inside the kit can be organized inside labeled zip-close bags.
    • Regardless of your container choice, make it clearly identifiable by writing “FIRST AID” with a permanent marker in multiple locations, on all sides of the box. Also, if the box is red, this will help in easily locating it.
  2. Storing your first-aid kit:
    • Establish a clearly-defined, consistent spot for your first aid kit. The place should be easily accessible and visible. Let everyone including the kids know about the location.

    • Make sure even small children in the house know about the location of the kit. But accessing the kit should not be an easy task for kids.

  3. Teaching your family members about the kit:
    • Teach everyone, who is old enough, about the different components in the kit.
    • Make sure, even though the smaller kids cannot reach for it, that they know the location. They should also be taught to call others if needed and show them the kit.
    • Place an instruction booklet, like those available from the American Red Cross, inside the kit. Also, if some members of your family have special medical requirements, write them on a piece of paper and put it inside the kit.
  4. Keeping your kit up-to-date:
    • A first-aid kit with medicines that have crossed expiration dates is of no use. Make a schedule to check and restock the kit 2 times a year.

    • Make a checklist of items that you stock in your kit so that while restocking you do not miss out on some essential items.

Stocking the first-aid kit

For stocking items inside the kit, follow these instructions:

  • Divide the medicines into various categories like ’cuts and sprains’, ’pulls and strains’, ’itches and rashes’, ’allergies’ and put them all in separate pouches and label them clearly.
  • Personalize your kit by putting small doses of prescription medication for each family member in separate pouches. Label them by their names. Also, write the amount of dose to be administered.

What should the kit include?

For cuts and scrapes

  • Adhesive bandages of various shapes and sizes
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Antiseptic solution
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment

For sprains and pulls

  • Elastic bandages
  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin

For itches and rashes

  • Calamine lotion
  • Hydrocortisone cream, lotion for itching

For allergies

  • Antihistamines

For snakebites

  • Unmedicated bandage
  • Scissors
  • Venom extraction pump
  • Tourniquet
  • Disposable scalpel
  • Ammonia inhalants

Note: First-aid is not a cure for snakebites. The key to surviving a venomous snakebite is to get an antivenom as soon as possible. If you get bitten, stay calm. If possible take a photograph of the snake for easy identification.

Call emergency responders (911 in the US, 999 in the United Kingdom, and 000 in Australia).

Tools and other medications

  • Safety pins
  • Adhesive tape
  • Non-mercury oral thermometer

  • CPR breathing barrier mask

  • Instant cold compress

  • Tweezers
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Sterile eyewash
  • Latex gloves
  • Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
  • Scissors
  • Antacids
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Any personal medications, medical consent/history forms
  • Emergency phone numbers


When wrapping an elastic bandage, don’t forget to make sure that it’s not too tight, and that you can easily bend your knee or other part of your body. Tight bandages can cause poor blood circulation and are dangerous to your health.

What other items do you stock in your first-aid kit? Let us know in the comments below.

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