Have you ever gone to the store to buy a first aid kit and find ten different ones and each one has a little of what you would expect ONE kit to have? You also might notice that they are WAY over priced for the material, or lack of, which they possess. Many people know they need a first aid kit for their homes, their cars or their offices, but when it comes to picking the right one it becomes very frustrating.
The first thing I always suggest is to know what you can do medically. Obviously, if you’re an EMT, nurse, or doctor you could go with one of the more elaborate first aid kits with suture kits, stethoscope and so on, but most of us don’t have that degree of medical training. Unless you plan on becoming trained in these areas, I would say to eliminate that sort of kit from your thought process.
You will likely come across first aid kits that have in big bold letters “250 Piece First aid kit.” Read what’s in these carefully. Most of these easily contain 100 or more different styles of band aids that you can buy for 5 dollars. You will find things such as 3- medicated ointment packs, 3 alcohol pads, 10 aspirin/ibuprofen tablets, 2 burn cream ointments packets and the list goes on. The truth is, a lot of what is in the so called kits you already have at home and it is more economical than what you would get in a kit. That is why I prefer, and recommend, making your own kit verses buying one. The price range on pre-made kits can go anywhere from $20 to $200.
I am going to list a few of the items that comes in these expensive kits that I had laying around the house so you can get a better idea of the money you will save by making your own basic kit. If you have kids, you will probably have most of these as well.
- Small Scissors
- Cotton Tip Applicators (q-tips put in zip lock baggie)
- Cotton balls (put these in zip-lock baggie)
- Aspirin and Non Aspirin Pain Relievers/Fever Reducers
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Ipecac (to induce vomiting if poisoned)
- Allergy medicine
- Calamine lotion (for poison ivy type rashes)
- Sting Relief Stick (for bug bites)
- Alcohol Pads
- Tube of Burn Cream (you usually get these in 3 small packets for one time use)
- Multiple Types of Band Aids, including waterproof band aids (put into zip-lock baggies)
- Neosporin (also comes as hydro-cortisone packets)
- Needle, matches to sterilize
- Small spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide
- travel hand sanitizer
- bandanas/ sling
- Ace Bandage
- Chigger X
Leaving me to buy:
- finger splints ($3 at walmart)
- instant cold pack (.99 at walmart depending on the brand and how many you buy)
- gauze pads (about $4 at walmart)
- gauze tape ($2)
- examination gloves (big box was $3, I keep about 6 pair in a Ziploc baggie)
- emergency whistle (.99 at walmart)
- First aid manual (free print on internet)
- one way valve to administer CPR or a CPR mask ($7 at walmart)
- snake bite kit ($10 at walmart)
So I spent about $35 to complete a much better kit than a store bought one. The items I had at home (that you can still purchase) I preferred to use because instead of getting 3 small packs of neosporin in a kit, I got a tube of it which would last much longer. The same applies to the sting stick for bug bites, burn cream, hydrogen peroxide, calamine lotion, etc. I am sure you can see how a homemade kit would produce a lot more than a store bought one for a fraction of the price.
I did not get all of this stuff at the same time. I put it together as I found the things around my house or found things on sale. For instance, Walmart frequently has things on sale in boxes in the middle of the store in front of the register. Things like allergy medicine, creams, fever reducer, medicated powders, etc.. for $.88. When I catch these sales, I will buy about 5 of the item I want and then take one or two and put it in the first aid kit. The Dollar General, is another good place to shop for these items if you want to buy them cheap.
If you add all of these items up from both lists combined, then you will be paying about the same for an already made first aid kit. The difference is …..you will get triple the amount of product so you are able to make multiple kits. One for your car, home camping trip etc. All you have to do is get one of those old back packs or messenger bags lying around the house and put the stuff in it.
If you intend to go camping or trail hiking, then you will want to add a few more things to your bag. We add things like: individual person medications, antibiotics, glow sticks, signal mirrors, 2,400 cal food bars, emergency water packets, anything you feel you might need in case of an emergency.
Just remember, if you decide to buy or build a kit yourself, always replace the items you use. It helps if you keep an inventory sheet of your items, and as you use them, keep record so you know if you need to buy more when running low. (That is more for OCD people like me lol) I hope this will help you decide on what sort of first aid kit you want to buy or build for your family.
Keepin It Spicy,
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