What Your First-Aid Kits Should Contain
Filed Under: Health & Science | Posted: 09/27/2008 at 5:52AM
Comments | Region: Philippines
Every home should have a first-air kit and all family members should know where it is kept. It is also necessary that your first-aid kit contains the proper and most important items, like sterile dressings for wounds, assorted bandages, and adhesive tape to hold dressings in place. A standard first-aid kit must have the following contents:
- 9 sterile cotton gauze swabs, 75 mm x 75 mm
- 1 pocket pack of 10 tissues
- 24 assorted adhesive strip dressings
- 1 roll adhesive tape, 25 mm wide
- 2 sterile non-adhesive dry dressings, 100 mm x 100 mm
- 3 sterile wound dressings and bandages
- 3 roller (stretch-cotton) bandages, 50, 75 and 100 mm wide
- 2 triangular calico bandages
- 5 safety pins
- 1 pair rust-resistant scissors
- 1 pair rust-resistant forceps
- 1 pencil and notepad
- 3 individual plastic bags
- 1 sterile combine dressing, 9 mm x 20 mm
- 1 aluminum foil blanket
- 1 pair latex gloves
- 1 first-aid booklet.
To understand the importance of these kit contents, the following detailed descriptions are provided:
1) Dressings – Sterile dressings come in various sizes and are made with either absorbent or non-adherent surfaces. Each is wrapped to maintain sterility and should not be opened until the wound is ready to be covered.
- The sterile wound dressing is attached to a light, open-weave cotton bandage. The dressing is bulky because it is for use on major wounds or to control bleeding.
- The sterile combine dressing is a firm dressing that can be used to control bleeding or to pad injured parts. The name indicates that this dressing is a combination of cotton wool or cellulose wrapped in a gauze outer layer. It can be used either as a single dressing, or folded over into a more bulky pad.
- The sterile non-adherent dressings are used on surface injuries, such as a burn or a weeping graze, where a fully absorbent dressing will stick. The dressing may be very thin and light, or have a combine dressing base with a non-adherent surface on one side. Often, the non-stick surface is a layer of plastic film with numerous fine perforations to allow fluids to pass from the wound to an absorbent dressing at the back. Other synthetic surfaces may be used for non-adherent dressings; they usually have a shiny finish to indicate the side to be placed in contact with the wound.
- Assorted adhesive strip dressings: Minor wounds can be covered with adhesive strip dressings that have a central non-adherent dressing pad surrounded by an adhesive surface to hold the dressing in place. Although the most common form is a strip dressing, there are also circular, square, and even fingertip-shaped varieties available. It is important to change these dressings daily because the adhesive softens the skin and can delay healing.
2) Adhesive tape – There are many types and widths of adhesive tape, and most are hypoallergenic to avoid a skin reaction. The most satisfactory width is 25 mm because this can be used easily on arms, fingers, knees, and the trunk. Use two or three widths if a wide strip is needed to secure a dressing. Some adhesive tape resembles paper and tears easily, so it is important to secure the tape to itself in addition to the skin. It sticks to itself well, but may lift off the skin in humid or hot conditions.
3) Bandages – First-aid bandages need to be flexible without the risk of being applied too tightly. They usually contain a mixture of cotton and synthetic materials, plus elastic fibers where firm compression and support are required. A bandage to keep a light dressing on a wound should be made of a crepe-like weave to avoid compression of the tissues. A strain or sprain requires a firm, supporting bandage with a high percentage of elastic fibers. Once applied, the circulation below the bandage requires frequent checks to make sure the bandage is not too tight. A triangular bandage can be used to make a sling, to tie a splint onto a limb, or to maintain pressure over a bulky dressing to control bleeding.
4) Wound-cleaning materials – Most first-aid kits contain wound-cleaning materials to mop up body fluids and clean wounds.
- To avoid the risk of infection, each sterile cotton gauze swab should be used only once, and then discarded for a fresh one.
- Where there is blood, vomit, or other body fluids to be cleaned away, disposable tissues are ideal. If a wound is present, sterile gauze swabs should be used instead, due to the risk of infection from the non-sterile tissues.
5) Instruments – Scissors and forceps are the only two instruments needed in a basic kit.
- First-aid scissors should have one sharp point and one rounded end so that they can either be used to cut a bandage from a limb, or eased under a sleeve or clothing to cut an injury free of constricting material.
- Splinter forceps (tweezers) need to have ends that meet well to enable a good grip on the splinter. The ends should not be fine points because this will make it harder to grasp the splinter and may make removal very painful. Blunt or square ends are often easier to use.
6) A number of other useful items are recommended for a good first-aid kit:
- An aluminum foil blanket is used to maintain body heat in a sick or injured person. If a victim is lying on a hot or cold road surface, place the blanket gently under the body, taking care not to tear the foil as it is wrapped around the victim.
- A plastic bag can be used to hold discarded dressings, but always dispose of the bag safely to avoid risk to others – if in doubt about what to do, ask for advice at your local doctor’s surgery. Bags are also useful for holding personal items which might get lost at the scene.
- Assorted safety pins are required to secure bandages and clothing.
- Unless you know of an allergy to latex, you should wear latex gloves for all first-aid treatments except those where there is no time to find and put gloves on. After use, discard the gloves safely into a sealed container. Wash your hands thoroughly after the gloves have been removed in case of any leakage of body fluids.
- A notebook and a pencil are useful to jot down any observations of the victim, including the pulse rate at different times.
- A simple guide to lifesaving first aid (first-aid booklet) is a required part of every first-aid kit.
Whenever the kit is used, make a note to replace used items to make it ready for the next emergency.
But as important as having a first-aid kit with all the necessary contents, you must also know how to use each of these contents properly when applying first-aid treatments in emergency cases.