First Kits: Part of Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is first evaluating the risks or dangers you might encounter, planning options for your own protection, and making sure that you have necessary emergency items. First kits are essential to have in any emergency situation, whether it be a personal emergency, or the result of natural disaster.

The kits can be assembled item by item personally, or purchased in a complete, standardized unit. Your kit may vary in items by geographical area of threat, or by legislation and regulation requirements, if one is purchased. The most essential items should at least be provided for, but if you can purchase all items, it would provide more materials for assistance. You will need to keep one in a special, readily known and available place in the home, in your car, and at work. In an emergency, it may be the only readily available aid that you have for immediate help.

If purchasing a first aid kit, make sure that it is identified with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) geographical symbol for first aid, which is a white cross on a green background. The American Red Cross, also provides first aid kits with a white cross, on a red background. If assembling your own kit, make sure to use a durable plastic container, waterproof cloth, or canvas bag, large enough to store all medical necessities.

First kits are used for accidental injury most often, and may not need as many items as a disaster, or survival kit. However, the more that you can put into it, the better, and it must be available and easy to get to, otherwise it is useless when someone needs assistance quickly.

The basics of a first kit begin with sterile gloves and bandages. If there is bleeding from a wound involved, pressure must be applied to stop the bleeding, and the wound will get infected if the dressings or your hands are not sterile. Cleansing towelettes, and antibacterial cleansing agents, along with antibiotic ointment or cream should be included to clean and sterilize wounds. Sterile adhesive bandages in many sizes should be in your kit, along with scissors to cut bandages, and clothes, and tweezers for removing particles from a wound or the skin. Eye wash solution may be needed in case of smoke damage to eyes, and petroleum jelly, or a lubricant may be necessary to remove a limb of the body which might be stuck under, or pinned in by another object.

If it is an illness emergency, the first kit should contain a thermometer to take body temperature, non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, or non-aspirin pain relievers. Anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, and laxatives are also helpful to have. It is always wise to have prescription medications in your first aid kit, and a copy of each person’s health background, in case you are the victim. Remember to periodically check expiration dates of the prescribed drugs, and over the counter medications in your kit. Blankets and flares are also good things to have near your kit, and especially in your car, to use in case of an emergency situation.

A first aid book, or guidelines for giving first aid is also a necessity in your kit. When your family is preparing for an emergency, it is a good thing to go over basics, so that everyone gets a refresher course on how to provide quality first aid. Also make sure that each person is aware of where the first kit is located. If it is hidden, or too high to reach, it is not any help. Personal first kits are just another step to emergency preparedness, and if you happen to be the first responder to an accident victim, it will be very beneficial to both, if you have a complete and sterile first aid kit.