Make your own first aid kit

Close up of a first aid kit that says first aid.

Emergency Preparedness Week is May 5 to 11.

If you don’t already have a first aid kit at your home, cottage, in your car or at the office, there’s no better way to celebrate emergency preparedness week!

You can buy any number of off-the-shelf kits that range in price from a few bucks for a basic boo-boo soother to hundreds of dollars for kits with medical grade supplies. With a little time and some savvy comparison shopping, however, you can put together your own kit, customized for the situations you think you’re most likely to encounter. You might even save some dough.

Whether you purchase a kit or make your own, it’s important to check it a couple of times a year to make sure medications haven’t expired and battery-powered equipment such as thermometers and flashlights still work. If you decide to go the do-it-yourself route, here are some pointers for assembling a bang-up kit (no pun intended), courtesy of the Red Cross, Web MD and

You’ll need to find a roomy container that can be easily organized and is convenient to store and carry. Check out sporting or outdoor stores for plastic tackle boxes or visit your local department or art store for an art supply organizer. You can use zip-lock type bags to organize items.

Once you’ve got your box or bag, here’s what to put in it:

  • soap
  • at least two 5″ x 9″ absorbent compress dressings
  • 25 adhesive bandages of various sizes
  • 10 yards of 1″ thick adhesive cloth tape
  • antibiotic ointment
  • an oral antihistamine
  • antiseptic wipes or hydrogen peroxide
  • sterile gauze pads in both 3″x 3″ and 4″x 4″
  • triangular bandages
  • a reflective emergency blanket (also known as a “space blanket”)
  • aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • a breathing barrier for administering CPR
  • a splint
  • instant cold packs
  • safety pins
  • calamine lotion
  • antacid
  • an antidiarrhea product such as Pepto-Bismol or Imodium
  • pairs of non-latex gloves
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • small Swiss-army type knife
  • dental kit to safely store lost teeth or a broken crown or filling
  • cigarette lighter to sterilize equipment or, if you’re camping or travelling in remote places, to make a fire
  • a flashlight and extra batteries
  • tweezers
  • thermometer (go for one that isn’t glass and doesn’t use mercury)
  • scissors
  • roller bandages—one 3-inches wide and one 4-inches wide
  • any medications that you or family members use regularly
  • a list of emergency phone numbers, such as the Poison Control Centre
  • a first aid booklet

Once you’ve assembled all these items, the only thing missing is a little know-how (unless, of course, you’ve already got up-to-date Red Cross certification). Check out the Canadian Red Cross website to find a training course in your area.

With a Red Cross certificate and a well-stocked first aid kit, you can feel confident that, come what may, you’re prepared.

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