What are the Different Types of First Aid Supplies?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

An organized container of first aid supplies is a necessity at home, particularly if there are young children present. However, it’s also a good idea to keep a few basic first aid supplies in the car since you might get a cut while changing a tire or simply reaching into the glove compartment. For that matter, who hasn’t experienced a painful paper cut at school or the office? Wherever you and your loved ones spend a good deal of time, you'll want to be able to handle these and other unexpected minor emergencies. That's it's important to learn about the different types of first aid supplies available and those usually needed most often.

Surgical gloves should be included in a first aid supply kit.
Surgical gloves should be included in a first aid supply kit.

As the phrase implies, first aid supplies are intended to provide a first line of defense against the potential complications of receiving a minor injury. In other words, a well-stocked first aid kit can represent a preemptive strike against having to make an unnecessary trip to the emergency room for cleanup care or suffering the effects of an infection later on. First aid supplies can also consist of items that help to prevent minor injuries and irritations, such as sunscreen and insect repellent.

Antibiotic ointments are typically included in first aid kits.
Antibiotic ointments are typically included in first aid kits.

Before examining the different types of first aid supplies, a few safety reminders are warranted. First, never allow children or pets to have access to the contents of a first aid kit. This means keeping first aid supplies stored in a bathroom or linen closet out of reach or locked up as well. Aside from a pet having a field day with a roll of once sterilized dressing, certain items can be dangerous to animals and small children, such as scissors and pain medications. Here’s another important tip: Periodically inspect all of your first aid supplies to make sure items are replaced as they are used and that medications remain within their expiration dates.

Aspirin.
Aspirin.

An effective first aid kit should contain a varied combination of first aid supplies, most notably bandages in assorted sizes. This includes adhesive bandages as well as small, medium, and large sterile gauze pads. In the event that a sprain or other reason to immobilize a limb occurs, a triangular bandage, also known as a cravat bandage, is useful since it can be fashioned into a sling or tourniquet. Cotton crepe rolled bandages also come in handy when the need to wrap or splint an arm or leg arises. Keeping a few safety pins with these materials will make administering these kinds of first aid tasks much easier.

An adhesive bandage.
An adhesive bandage.

Of course, minor cuts and wounds need to be cleaned before being dressed, making an assortment of antiseptic products a necessity. This includes alcohol-free cleansing wipes, topical antiseptic cream or ointment, and perhaps a cream or spray designed to relieve insect bites and stings. Hydrocortisone cream will be appreciated in the event of an encounter with poison ivy.

Gauze, suture supplies, and bandage wraps are types of first aid supplies.
Gauze, suture supplies, and bandage wraps are types of first aid supplies.

Certain medications qualify as basic first aid supplies. This includes cough syrup, antihistamine tablets, antihistamine tablets, and non-prescription painkillers, such as ibuprofen. Regarding the latter, substitution with aspirin is fine. However, please note that aspirin is not suitable for children under the age of 16 years due to an increased risk of Reye's syndrome.

Rolled gauze is useful for stemming blood flow.
Rolled gauze is useful for stemming blood flow.
A first aid kit should include safety pins.
A first aid kit should include safety pins.
A first aid kit may contain instructions for how to assist a person who is choking.
A first aid kit may contain instructions for how to assist a person who is choking.
Children should never take aspirin.
Children should never take aspirin.
First aid kits should include hydrocortisone cream.
First aid kits should include hydrocortisone cream.
Sterile gauze is necessary to clean and dress wounds properly.
Sterile gauze is necessary to clean and dress wounds properly.
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to wiseGEEK is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

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