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Emergency Medical Kit: Critical Items You Should Have

Emergency Medical Kit: Critical Items You Should Have

When planning any survival or emergency kit, you will find first aid a priority. Simple injuries such as a small cut can quickly become an emergency when not taken care of, enhancing an emergency medical kit’s importance. 

While pre-made emergency medical kits can be found on the market, building your own kit will allow you to carry the critical items you need and avoid the items you don't. 

What’s Different? 

While emergency medical kits are all based on the same idea, you can find major differences between each kit. It’s important to carry the standard items needed in any situation, with a focus on your local weather and potential natural hazards. 

For example, preparing for hypothermia in hot weather states may be less of a concern. 

Your Emergency Medical Kit 

While building your emergency medical supply kit, it’s important to remember that the most important tool in the kit isn’t a specific medication but is your knowledge itself. 

Without the knowledge to utilize these EMS supplies, they become useless. You should go through your kit and ensure you know how to use each item, even printing off a simple list so the people around you who may not know can be efficient during an emergency. 

Almost as important is educating your family on the importance and use of your kit, and they don't have to be a professional EMT. Even young children can become efficient in cleaning a cut, putting a bandaid over it to keep it clean, and maintaining the injury. These skills can keep you safe, both in your day-to-day life and during emergencies while you wait for first responders. 

What’s In Your Kit?  

When thinking of a medical kit, consider the idea of injury, warmth, and survival in a relatively small package, which is large enough to take care of your entire family.  

You also want to consider the availability and longevity of the items since antibiotics or disinfectants have a shelf life. 

The packaging for these items should be single-use if possible. While many distributors sell large tubes of medical products, in an emergency, you won’t always be at a sink to wash up and reduce cross-contamination. Germs and bacteria in these large containers and on medical equipment could cause ongoing issues. 

Adhesive Bandages 

Something as small as an adhesive bandage is essential in any medical kit, as it reduces bleeding and adds a barrier to keep dirt and other contaminants out of a wound. 

Consider a higher quality, fabric style bandage in various sizes. This fabric material allows the bandage to move with your skin and reduce lifting.  For more serious injuries, you can also purchase "stop the bleed" kits that are meant to reduce the risk of hemorrhaging before you get to a healthcare professional. 

Antiseptic Wipes 

With open wounds, anything from a burn to a cut can become infected and have drastic effects on your body. While scrubbing an injury with soap and water is a great way to clean an injury, you may not have access during an emergency. In this case, infection control is done with different forms of antiseptic wipes.

Povidone-Iodine is an antiseptic and a great option for scrubbing the wound itself, as it doesn’t cause extra pain and does a great job at killing bacteria. This is an orange liquid and often considered messy but is highly effective on wounds. 

When using alcohol to clean an area, it should be used around the wound, but not on a wound. Alcohol is a harsh cleaner, which is why it burns when in a wound and could cause damage to the open area. These are also a great option for cleaning items being used, such as scissors or your hands, as the alcohol dries quickly. 

Benzalkonium Chloride is a less harsh cleaner usually used around a wound but could be used to thoroughly clean a wound. This is often an option for sensitive skin and is used widely in the medical field.

Antibiotic Ointment

For prolonged bacteria prevention, antibiotic ointments are an oil-based solution that stays on the surface of the cut and reduces the risk of infection. This added protection can also reduce the visual damage of scaring and allow the wound to heal quickly. 

Exam Gloves 

With a focus on keeping germs and dirt out of a wound, your hands may not be the cleanest. Exam gloves are a great way to add a protective, clean layer before dealing with an open wound or trying to handle the extrication of materials like dirt and gravel from a wound. 

Exam gloves are typically made of latex, vinyl, or nitrile. You or your loved ones may have an allergic reaction to these materials, which should be checked in advance. You may also want to include other forms of PPE like face masks or shields, especially during the current COVID-19 crisis. 

Butterfly Bandages 

For deeper cuts, you should focus on pulling the skin back together, which will reduce bleeding and encourage healing. Butterfly bandages are designed for just that, allowing you to pull the various ends in different directions, which pull back toward the center and pull the skin together. 

Once the injury is pulled together, you’ll want to wrap the injury in a gauze and bandage wrap. 

Gauze 

This absorbent material is known to avoid breaking into pieces or causing particles to break apart; gauze becomes a must-have to cover and wrap open injuries. 

Gauze also plays a secondary role as it adds a cushion layer on top of your injury to give added protection. 

Elastic Wrap 

One of the most versatile items in your first aid kit is elastic wrap. 

Originally designed to be wrapped around a cut or injury to apply pressure and hold gauze in place, elastic wrap can also be used to create splints for the immobilization of an injury. 

Wraps are typically held in place with metal clips and can be used multiple times. Self Adhering wraps stick to themselves, removing the need for clips. This is ideal for single uses but often becomes damaged and unable to use again.

These are preferred over medical tape since the wraps allow some movement or adjustment.

Burn Ointment 

Burns can happen in the blink of an eye, from the stovetop to any electrical item. Burn ointment is a cooling gel that adds pain relief to the injury to help burns become more bearable. 

Burn treatment applied quickly can also pull the actual heat away from the area to prevent ongoing damage. The area is then wrapped with gauze and electric wrap.

Emergency Blanket

Losing body temperature can become a serious risk, even in relatively warm climates. Your body could have a large temperature loss from wind, moisture, or the cold weather itself. As your body loses warmth, it will attempt to rebuild your overall temperature. 

Emergency blankets are a thin, foil-like blanket that bounces your bodies escaping heat back towards your body. These blankets fold up to be just a few inches in size and are extremely lightweight, making them a great choice for even a small first aid kit. 

Medical Scissors 

For cutting away clothing around an injury or cutting off old bandages when re-dressing a wound, sharp medical shears are a must-have in your equipment bag. 

Medical scissors have rounded edges, so as they are slid along the skin, they can’t puncture or cause further injury.

Over The Counter Medications 

Over-the-counter medications are the variety of medicines you can buy without making a doctor's appointment or speaking with a pharmacist. Much like cold-and-flu medications, these come in a variety of brands, doses, and with an added benefit. 

Pain Relief 

Injuries are often associated with pain or irritation within the body. Relieving this pain can be important, and medications such as ibuprofen could help. Popular brands such as Advil, Midol, or Motrin are common names in any household and can help with physical injury, headaches, or general discomfort. 

Another common medication for pain relief is acetaminophen, with the most common household brand being Tylonal, which also adds the effects to reduce fevers. 

Each pain-relieving medication is metabolized and reacts differently within the body. You should always consider drug interactions and side effects before choosing a medication, and consult with a physician if you have questions. 

Allergy Medication (Antihistamines)

With 1 in 6 people having issues with allergies, you are likely to have someone within your family affected, and the importance of having medication designed to relieve these irritations is important. 

These medications reduce the inflammation of histamine receptors and relieve your allergic reactions. Of course, if it's a serious allergic reaction, you may need the help of emergency medical services.

Summary 

While building your personal emergency medical kit, it’s important to keep your entire family in mind. If you have a family of four, you will want more than one emergency blanket, and if someone in your family has severe allergic reactions or other medical conditions, items specific to the conditions such as epinephrine are important for your kit. It should be your one-stop-shop for all your medical supplies. 

Stress can have massive negative effects during an emergency. Preparing yourself with the needed items and furthering your education about possible risks utilizing Judy.co will reduce the overall stress, even in a stressful situation.

Sources:

https://www.exmed.net/blog/expressmedicalsupply/post/2016/07/07

https://glovenation.com/blogs/default-blog/blog-what-are-gloves-made-of 

https://www.healthline.com/health/pain-relief/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8610

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