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Everyone should have a well-stocked first-aid kit at home and in their car. There are many pre-made kits you can buy at your local store or online, or you can make your own, depending on the potential needs of you and your family. Here are the recommended items you should have in your kit, according to the American Red Cross and the Mayo Clinic.
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Not only is a thermometer good to have on hand during cold and flu season, but it should also be a fixture in your first-aid kit. The Red Cross recommends a non-mercury, non-glass oral thermometer.
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The Red Cross recommends having two pairs of non-latex gloves in size large in your kit. These disposable gloves can protect your hands from exposure to germs and bodily fluids and won’t trigger a reaction in people with a latex allergy.
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A flashlight is a handy household tool that can be used for everything from home improvement projects to virtual doctor’s appointments. You should also keep a small, waterproof flashlight or headlamp as well as some extra batteries in your first-aid kit.
The materials in your first-aid kit won’t be helpful unless you know how to use them. Your kit should include basic instruction manuals to guide you through CPR and first aid.
Also known as instant ice packs, instant cold compresses are portable and disposable ways to treat minor pain, swelling for sprains, headaches and fevers.
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A first-aid kit should also have adhesive bandage strips in assorted sizes, including "butterfly" bandages, which can help close small, shallow cuts.
Individually packaged antiseptic towelettes can be used to help clean and sanitize the skin before dressing a wound.
Compress dressings are highly absorbent, sterile pads that help minimize blood loss and keep wounds clean.
A flexible, soft roll of gauze bandages will help hold dressing on wounds while still allowing for flexibility for movement if needed.
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Gauze pads are non-stick sterile, all-purpose bandages to help stop bleeding and keep wounds clean. The Red Cross recommends having five 3-by-3-inch and five 4-by-4-inch sterile gauze pads in your kit.
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For injuries that require a dressing besides an adhesive bandage, you’ll need cloth tape to hold the bandages in place.
A common household object for those who enjoy hobbies like sewing, safety pins in a variety of sizes are also a first-aid kit staple as they can help secure wraps and bandages.
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A small pair of scissors is handy to help cut gauze, tape, clothing, bandages and more.
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Used by many as a grooming tool, tweezers are also a first-aid staple that can be used to pick out small particles or foreign objects from the skin.
Antibiotic ointment helps protect against infection while promoting fast healing of cuts, scrapes, scratches and burns. The Red Cross recommends having five antibiotic ointment packets of 1 gram each in your kit.
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Hydrocortisone comes in the form of ointments, creams, lotions and sprays. No matter the form, it helps relieve redness, itching, swelling and other discomfort caused by skin conditions. Include either a tube or a few individual packets in your first-aid kit.
Calamine lotion can help soothe the itching and pain of minor skin irritations, such as those caused by poison ivy.
Emergency blankets are lightweight, metalized plastic sheets that help retain body heat. They are used by first responders and search and rescue teams and can also be used as a ground cloth, gear cover or shelter from the elements in an emergency while enjoying the great outdoors.
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A breathing barrier is a tool used to help administer CPR. It is a mask-like face shield with a one-way breathing valve that prevents the spread of disease by preventing direct contact between each person’s mouth.
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There are a few basic medications you should have in a first-aid kit. Aspirin is one of them because it can be life-saving for an adult with chest pain or who may be having a heart attack, according to the Mayo Clinic. The Red Cross recommends two packets of aspirin with 81 mg each.
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For treating a variety of other pain, it’s smart to have a variety of your preferred pain relievers in your kit, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
You should keep extras of any personal medications you take that don't need refrigeration in your first-aid kit. This includes a prescribed auto-injector of epinephrine to treat severe allergic reactions.
Duct tape is something most DIY homeowners have on hand, and its versatility is why it is great to have during emergencies. It can secure bandages, make a tourniquet, set a splint and more.
Beyond the tools that could be helpful during an emergency situation, you should also include a list of emergency phone numbers for family members, your family doctor and pediatrician, local emergency services, emergency road service providers and the poison help line. Assembling these numbers as well as a first-aid kit are just two of the ways to make sure your family stays safe in a natural disaster.
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