First Aid Checklist: Essentials for Your Summertime Kit

The most important first aid kit essentials for a safe and healthy summer


Visitors swim at Mt. Shasta in California

As summertime rolls around so does the opportunity for spending more time under the sun—which is great, because as far as we’re concerned, exploring the great outdoors is one of the best possible ways to pass the time.

Related: 6 Ways to Spend More Time Outside

Unfortunately, there are a host of dangerous health risks like sunburn, heat exhaustion, dehydration and bug bites that we expose ourselves to when we participate in play dates with Mother Nature. It’s no excuse to stay locked up indoors, though. It just means you need to prepare yourself properly before heading out.

Take any course with the American Red Cross and you’ll immediately learn that the most important part of first aid is prevention. It’s quite obviously far more effective to prevent an injury from occurring, rather than having to implement a first aid response.

However, as we’ve all learned one way or another, accidents happen. Even with every precaution taken, mishaps and misfortunes will inevitably take place, which is why it’s important to always be prepared. One of the most important ways you can ensure you’re prepared this summer includes always having a well-stocked first aid kit on hand.

Whether you’re simply lounging by the pool or hiking up one of your favorite trails, be sure to always keep a first aid kit close by. You really never know when you might need it.

The American Red Cross recommends making sure your kit is stocked with these important essentials:

Personal items, such as medications and any important emergency phone numbers

5x9 inch absorbent compress dressings (at least 2)

25 bandages of varying sizes

A 10 yards x 1 inch adhesive cloth tape

Antibiotic ointment (at least 5 one-gram packets) and at least 5 antiseptic wipes 

81-mg packets of aspirin (at least 2)

A CPR face mask

An Instant cold compress (at least 1)

At least 2 pairs of latex-free, disposable gloves (size large recommended)

At least 2 one-gram packets of hydrocortisone cream


2 roller bandages, one three inches wide and another 4 inches wide

About 10 sterile gauze pads, five 3x3 inches and five 4x4 inches

A non-mercury, non-glass oral thermometer

2 triangular bandages


First aid instruction booklet

And a few other items you might consider including: safety pins, a flashlight, poison ivy wash, hand sanitizer, saline solution, duct tape, hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls, petroleum jelly, aloe vera, calamine lotion and a turkey baster or bulb suction device for flushing out wounds.

Related: How to Pack a First Aid Kit

Of course, the extent to which you stock your first aid kit will vary with the activities you plan to participate in. It’s important to plan accordingly.

The American Red Cross also recommends that you check and replenish your kit regularly. Remember to check the expiration dates of perishable items and routinely check the batteries of electronic devices like flashlights and thermometers.

Also keep in mind: heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunburn are some of the most common summer ailments that can easily be avoided if the correct measures are taken to prevent them. Don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially while participating in outdoor activities, and check out our guide to the best sunscreen products for protecting your skin.

Related: How Much Water Should You Drink to Stay Hydrated?


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