The best first aid kit
The thing about first aid kits is that you don't realize you need one until there's an emergency, even a small one. A cut finger at the park or burn while cooking can be a wake-up call to the small supplies that can make a difference. First aid kits come in all shapes and sizes from the most basic to first responder kits. Your needs will depend on where you'll be storing the kit and the kind of activities you participate in. Our top pick from First Aid Only stands out for the breadth and depth of its supplies. It's perfect for the workplace but would make a good addition to a home or shop too. Our guide will take you through the features and considerations you'll need as you put safety first.
Considerations when choosing first aid kits
Types of first aid kits
Basic: These kits vary in size, but are generally intended for home use. They have the very basics like antiseptic, ice/heat packs, bandages, gauze, tweezers, scissors, and basic pain killers.
Travel: These compact kits have the bare minimum like bandaids, a single packet of antiseptic, tweezers, and pain killers. They fit in a backpack, purse, or briefcase.
Commercial: Commercial kits are larger and may be designed to hang on the wall in a workplace. Some states have regulations about the supplies a kit must contain so the contents may vary from state to state. These kits include things like latex gloves, splints, and resuscitation equipment.
Event-specific (sports and outdoors): Some kits are designed for a specific activity or location. For example, there are hunting first aid kits with the supplies to treat a bullet wound; outdoor kits that include allergy medications and insect bite lotions; and sports kits that have splints, emergency blankets, and cold compresses.
Weight and size
The right weight and size will depend on where you plan to store the kit and if you need to carry it with you. For example, the size of most home kits doesn't matter unless you don't have much storage space. You may also have to opt for a smaller kit if you'll be storing one in your car. For backpacking and travel, look for a model that's lightweight and compact with a secure case that will keep everything together.
Some kits are both waterproof and airtight, which can be essential when you're in the outdoors. Whether your hunting, camping, or rafting, you want all your supplies to stay dry.
Organization and labels
First aid kits typically have compartments and pockets to keep everything organized. The more organized the kit is, the easier it will be for you to find supplies in an emergency.
Kits with reflective trim are great for camping, in the car, and anywhere else you might need access in the dark.
While it's best to prepare before the emergency strikes, a kit with a manual can give you a quick rundown of how and when to use the supplies.
Basic home kits usually come in under $50. The more people you have in your family, the larger the kit should be. Activity/event specific kits typically fall in the $50 to $100 range because they add extra equipment like latex gloves and splints. Workplace and professional kits often come in over $100. The more specialized these kits become, the higher their price.
Q: Should I include extra medication like insulin or allergy treatments in my first aid kit?
A: If you have a medical condition that requires medication, the first aid kit is a good place to store it. However, keep an eye on expiration dates as some medications may not be effective if they're expired.
Q: Do I need more than one first aid kit?
A: You may need two or even more depending on the kinds of activities in which you participate. Everyone should have a basic kit at home, but you may also want to keep one in your car, purse, in your camping supplies, or in your shop. When an emergency strikes, you want the first aid kit to be as close as possible.
First aid kits we recommend
Best of the best: First Aid Only Smart Compliance (General Workplace)
Our take: Designed for the office or workplace, this kit comes fully equipped for a wide variety of injuries.
What we like: The cabinet and its organization are a big plus in our book. We also like that it can be customized and/or expanded based on need.
What we dislike: It's not designed for home use, and the initial quantities are pretty low.
Best bang for your buck: Coleman 205-piece Expedition
Our take: The Coleman is designed for camping so it's lightweight and portability give it top marks for a budget-friendly kit.
What we like: It packs a lot of gear into a small space. The 205 pieces will have you covered for most injuries.
What we dislike: It's tightly packed so you have to work a little harder to keep everything organized.
Choice 3: Medique 61-piece
Our take: This is a good home starter kit. It's got the basics covered and keeps them organized in a hard shell case.
What we like: This kit is compact and covers your most basic needs. We'd keep one at home and in the car.
What we dislike: The kit is stocked with generic brands that lack quality, and the storage case isn't all that durable.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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