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When you've got a cut, a scrape, a bite or a burn, a fully stocked first aid kit is a good place to turn. Here's what to keep in yours.

Essentials for your first aid kit. Make yours.
Reviewed 9/30/2022

First aid essentials. How to make a kit fit for first aid

When you hurt yourself, you don’t always need to go to the doctor or a hospital. Sometimes all you need is a little first aid. That’s where a first aid kit comes in handy. It contains most of the items you might need to provide basic aid. It’s a good idea to keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and in your car. But what should you keep inside the kit itself?

Here are some essentials for a well-stocked first aid kit.


  • Gauze roll.
  • Sterile gauze bandages.
  • Eye pad.
  • Adhesive tape roll.
  • Elastic bandage for sprains.
  • Sterile cotton balls and swabs.


  • Pain reliever and fever medicines. (Remember not to use aspirin for kids younger than 18.)
  • Antibiotic ointment.
  • Sterile saline eyewash.
  • Calamine lotion for stings or poison ivy.
  • Hydrocortisone cream, ointment or lotion for itching.
  • Antihistamine for allergic reactions.
  • Nasal decongestant.
  • Anti-nausea medicine to treat motion sickness and other types of nausea.
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine.
  • Antacid for upset stomach.
  • Laxative to treat constipation.
  • Special medicines for members of your household, such as asthma inhalers.


  • Safety pins to fasten splints and bandages.
  • A suction device to flush out wounds.
  • Aluminum finger splint.
  • Syringe and medicine spoon for giving medicine.
  • Thermometer.
  • Tweezers to remove ticks, insect stingers and splinters.
  • Scissors.


  • Non-latex gloves (size large).
  • A breathing barrier for giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • An emergency blanket.


  • Antiseptic wipes.
  • Instant cold compress.
  • First aid manual and list of emergency contacts.


Whether you create your first aid kit or buy a pre-made one at the store, keep these tips in mind:

  • Tailor your kit to meet your family’s needs.
  • Check the kit regularly.
  • Replace items as you use them or they expire.
  • Use the kit for minor medical issues—call 911 in an emergency.
  • Consider labeling emergency contacts in your phone, or downloading an ICE (for "in case of emergency") app.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Emergency Physicians; American Red Cross

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The information found in the Health Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor does it represent the views or position of WHMC. Readers should always consult with their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including for specific medical needs.