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How to Make a Portable First Aid Kit

Updated on October 18, 2012

As a mom of six, I have known the horror of having my little one get a "boo boo" when we were away from home and our first aid kit. A minor cut in need of a band-aid is kind of a big deal to a crying two year old, so I would look anxiously around at the surrounding mothers, searching for my hero-that well prepared mom with the elusive band-aid in her purse. Sometimes I would find her. Usually, I would not and we would end up using public bathroom wet paper towels to "make do" until we could get home. Disgusting? Absolutely. But a mom has to do what a mom has to do, right?

It was after one of these moments, that I decided to take charge. I would fill my car with band-aids and alcohol wipes. My purse and diaper bag would be well stocked. I would be that elusive hero mom who all the other mothers searched frantically for in their hour of need. Easy right? But what about the bigger emergencies? We all hope and pray they never come up, but isn't it better to be prepared? That is why a well-stocked portable first aid kit is essential, and now I have one.

First Aid Kit Essentials

There are many ready made kits that make excellent starting points, but none of them will be complete without a few additions. Here are the absolute essentials that all portable (and not so portable) first aid kits should contain.

  • Bandages are the obvious first step to a good kit. Adhesive bandages of multiple sizes are an essential and are going to be the most used item in the kit. These are also the items that will need replaced most often. Thankfully, coupons are almost always circulating and a prudent shopper will be able to keep the band-aids replenished with very little out of pocket expense. If there are small children in your life, it would probably be smart to stock up on a few superhero or Barbie band-aids. Little ones are notorious for taking off their bandages before it is time, and the character bandages seem to stay on longer.

  • Alcohol, peroxide, and some type of triple antibiotic ointment are also essentials. Germs are everywhere and wounds must be cleaned and protected. Alcohol wipes are just as effective as pouring the alcohol onto the wound, and they are a little easier to store. The downside is that they are a little more expensive.

  • Gauze, tape, butterfly bandages, and ace bandages are important, too. Not every wound is in a convenient location for a regular adhesive bandage. My daughter had a boil lanced on the side of her head, and it needed to be covered. Obviously, a standard band-aid wasn't going to work with her pretty little curls in the way so her doctor used gauze and an ace bandage to make a makeshift dressing for her wound. It wasn't pretty but it worked. The bandage stayed in place and the weeping wound didn't get exposed to more germs.

  • Ice packs are a good addition, too. At home, those little gel filled “boo boo” buddies can be put in the freezer, but it might be wise to purchase a few instant ice packs for the car or the office. An instant heat pack or two might come in handy, too.

  • Pain relievers are a must. Don't forget to stock up on acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. Besides the need for headache relief, a few baby aspirin at the onset of chest pain can make the difference between life or death in a heart attack. Take that aspirin and get to the hospital quickly when those symptoms appear.

  • Prescription medications for all family members should be included. I would recommend keeping at least a few days supply of each daily prescription drug in the kit, because emergencies come at the most inconvenient times and don't always involve giving first aid. What if the emergency is a sick relative and you have to travel? The kit is ready to go. Toss it in the back of the car with the thrown together overnight bag, and you are ready for the road.

  • Scissors are also important and often overlooked. Besides cutting tape and gauze, they might be needed to cut away clothing that can't be easily removed. Seconds count in emergencies.

  • A list of emergency phone numbers should be in the kit, too. Poison control, local emergency numbers, the family physician, and the family vet (Fido has emergencies, too) are good numbers to keep in easy reach.

  • Tea tree oil is good for many things. It helps treats staph infections, acne, eczema, dandruff, and can be used as an antiseptic for cuts and burns. It can also be added to a vaporizer or warm bath to help with congestion. It isn't very expensive, but it will probably have to be purchased online or in a health food store. Tea tree oil is not safe for consumption.

  • Lavender oil is another essential oil that should be in the medicine cabinet. It is as effective as aloe (another wise addition) to treating burns. A little lavender on a sunburn or any first degree burn relieves the pain almost instantly. A headache? Insomnia? A drop of lavender on each temple or in the bathtub and relief is in sight. It also helps relieve itching and burning from insect bites, so it is a real essential for the summer camper.

  • Rosemary oil is a handy addition, too. A little rosemary in a spray bottle of water sprayed on your child's hair every morning makes the hair smell sweet and protects from head lice. In this case, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Used in combination with lavender oil, rosemary can even help get rid of bruises more quickly. Use the lavender oil first. It will turn the bruise yellow then put rosemary on the yellow bruise to increase circulation and return the skin to its normal color.

  • Oil of oregano is a more expensive addition to the first aid kit, but it is definitely worthwhile. Oil of oregano is an antibiotic, an anti-fungal, and an antiseptic. It can be consumed and used on the skin. Feeling the beginnings of a cold? Have a UTI that doesn't want to go away? A few drops of oil of oregano under the tongue a few times a day will boost the immune system enough to knock out that cold. (Do not use if you have an autoimmune disease.) Have a painful boil? This is a quick treatment that will bring quick results. It can even be added to drinking water to sterilize it if the water is questionable. (I've never personally tried purifying water, but it comforts me to know that it is possible and it is in my kit.)

  • A first aid manual is important for even the most seasoned first aid expert. An emergency isn't a good time to try to remember everything you have ever been taught. You are under enough pressure, especially if the injured person is your child. Being able to flip to a step by step chart and know exactly what to do is going to reduce some of the stress.

  • A flashlight, bottled water, and a blanket are also essentials. If your kit isn't large enough to store them then make sure that you still have them in your car.

You Be the Hero

Obviously, this list covers the basics and is incomplete. Hopefully, it will get you brainstorming on the items you might need to add to your kit. A good first aid kit anticipates all kinds of situations, so think about the more common emergency situations that arise in your area and make sure your kit is ready for them. Hopefully, your kit will never be needed for anything more than a "boo boo". Maybe you will be the hero coming to the aid of the unprepared mom of the toddler with the scratched knee. But, maybe you will need your kit for something more serious. If so, won't it be great to be prepared?


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    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Clairday 

      5 years ago from Arkansas

      Thanks for reading.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very useful list. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Clairday 

      5 years ago from Arkansas

      I am glad this was helpful. Lavender was the first essential oil I feel in love with, but it was years before I realized its real worth. It is great stuff.

    • Natashalh profile image


      5 years ago from Hawaii

      I knew I needed to read this when I saw the picture! I have tea tree oil and oregano oil in my cabinet, but I did not realize how useful lavender is! I have some, too, but for aromatic reasons. Now I know I can put it to even better use.

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Clairday 

      6 years ago from Arkansas

      Thank you. I definitely learned by experience how important it is to be prepared. Lavender oil is very effective. My friend had a terrible sunburn. He put lavender essential oil on it before going to bed, and he slept great. The next morning he was still red, but the burning sensation was gone. Hope it helps.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      A very useful hub! You inspired me to keep a first aid kit in the car. I didn't realize lavender oil was as effective as aloe. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Clairday 

      6 years ago from Arkansas

      Thanks Alecia. I appreciate the vote up, and I hope it helps. Paper cuts are really painful. I'd almost rather have stitches. Almost.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is a great hub for anyone. I don't have kids but I still get boo-boos. Especially working around alot of paper and cardboard. I have some band-aids but I probably need some alcohol and ointment as well. Voted up, useful, and awesome.

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Clairday 

      6 years ago from Arkansas

      Thank you so much for reading.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub and advice to help have a first-aid kit stocked with all the right stuff you will need in a emergency. Well done !

      Vote up and more !


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