What to Put in Your First Aid Kit


Everything You Need in Case of a Medical Emergency



Whether you plan on camping in the woods or backpacking through Europe, it’s important to be prepared for a medical emergency. While you can’t pack everything, you can equip yourself with the basics. Having a first aid kit will help you take on a variety of medical hang-ups, from minor cuts and burns to life-threatening situations. Even if your injury seems minor, it could lead to some serious problems down the line if you don’t have any means to treat it.

Even if you’re not planning a big getaway, keep a first aid kit on hand for emergencies. You can keep a stocked kit in your house or in the trunk of your car so you always know where the supplies are. The following items should be packed in your first aid kit:

Absorbent Compress Dressings (5” x 9”)

You can use these to stop the bleeding from an open wound.

20 or More Adhesive Bandages (Assorted Sizes)

You’ll need these to cover any open wounds or burns. If you leave the wound open, infection could result.

Adhesive Cloth Tape (10 yds x 1”)

This will come in handy if you need to cover a more serious wound that extends over a large portion of the body.

Antibiotic Ointment Packets

These are used to protect and heal wounds.

Antiseptic Wipes

You’ll need these to sterilize open wounds, any tools or instruments, or exposed parts of the skin in an effort to prevent cross contamination.


Headaches are a real pain in the neck. A terrible pain of any kind might send you reaching for a bottle of aspirin. You don’t want to be stranded without a way to deal with unexpected discomfort.

Space Blanket

Always a good choice if you’re camping or staying outdoors, a space blanket will help you ward off hypothermia. You can also use it to build a makeshift shelter or to add some warmth to your sleeping arrangement.

Cold Compress

A cold compress slows the body’s circulation, helping to reduce the bleeding on an open wound.

Non-latex Gloves (2 pairs)

No one should be treating an open wound with their bare hands. You need non-latex gloves to keep things sterile in a medical emergency, especially when you can’t wash your hands due to a lack of clean running water.

Hydrocortisone Ointment

You might need this to treat redness or swelling on the skin. Someone could get a rash after having an allergic reaction, or by coming in contact with a poisonous plant, animal, or an insect.


You never know when you’ll need to cut through something, including a piece of clothing or a bandage.

Sterile Gauze Pads (Assorted Sizes)

Use these to cover open wounds, especially if the wound is dirty or infected.

Oral Thermometer

You may need to take someone’s temperature when you’re out and about. A fever could be a sign of a more serious issue.


Tweezers can help remove thorns or other skin invaders. Make sure that you sterilize your tweezers before sticking them in an open wound.

Emergency Contact Numbers

In case of an emergency, you need to have fast access to the closest line of support. Of course, 9-1-1 works in many situations, but not all. Also include the phone number of your local police or fire station. If you’re traveling or headed to a specific destination, make sure that you have the names and numbers of anyone that you might need to contact including any friends or relatives in the area, the local police or fire department, and, if you’re traveling out of the country, the number of the nearest U.S. embassy.

Personalizing Your First Aid Kit

Your travel companions may have other more pressing items that you need to bring along. Make sure that you have all necessary prescription medications for everyone. If someone has diabetes, remember to bring a diabetes kit with a blood glucose meter, glucose tablets, insulin syringes, lancets, and some back-up test strips.

Tips for Maintaining a First Aid Kit

Some of the items in that first aid kit you’re putting together have an expiration date, so stay on top of the condition and inventory level of the supplies. Check the kit especially right before you head off on vacation.

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