We’ve got 7 children. 6 of those are boys, but actually, our daughter ended up having the worst traumatic accident we’ve encountered yet (so don’t count out those girls!). We’ve had dozens of ER runs, and dozens more of NEAR-ER runs, where I carefully assessed the damage and ultimately decided to stay home and fix the wound or injury at home.
To do both, I keep a nicely-stocked home First Aid kit. Whether we end up going to the ER or not, it is really nice to be prepared for those GASP-y moments when someone comes rushing in to tell you that their sibling has been hurt.
WHY NOT THE STORE-BOUGHT KITS?
I’ve looked at the little already-prepared first aid kits they sell in stores, and I have three problems with them:
- They’re CRAZY over-priced for how little you get.
- They’re never big enough for the first-aid needs of an active, large family.
- You’ll quickly run out of some items, and then be sitting there with a weird set of random items you’ll probably never use, in your tiny plastic box.
So, after about 6 years of having a piecemeal approach to first-aid care, here’s what I now keep in our large family’s First Aid kit:
- Steri-strips. These are great for cuts/slices that look nerve-wracking but don’t actually need stitches. The material is strong and holds the two pieces of skin together tightly. They don’t stick to as much skin as a bandaid, but they hold stronger. And they’re thin enough to cut down to the size you need.
- Super glue is another surprisingly easy way to close up small cuts. We did this when our (then) 3-year-old son fell back into the metal radiator our first week in China and got a big gash, and we’ve used it again and again for various cuts and slices on our kids. If you have family allergies, try this out before using it, but this is a common way ERs still close up wounds (they use a fancier one but it’s basically super glue), and is a sound method for closing small to mid-level cuts.
- Antiseptic liquids. At our home, we keep a bottle of isopropyl alcohol and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on hand for giving a quick clean to wounds and scrapes. (These often go on sale for a $1 at drug stores.)
- But we also go on a few trips a year, so I’ve come to prefer having a box of individual-wrapped alcohol wipes on hand as well.
- Gauze pads. I find that in the heat of the moment, it’s really annoying to have your gauze pad be way too big, or too small to actually cover the wound… so I like having both the 2-inch gauze pads, and the 4-inch gauze pads to pull from when someone has a scrape, cut, or slice. Even if we end up heading to the ER, having these keeps blood from dripping everywhere in the house, on the clothes, and in the car on the way there.
- In addition to gauze pads, I keep rolled gauze on hand. It allows me to wrap around a wound if it’s in an awkward or bendy place, and it’s easy to cut to the length I need.
- Fabric tape and/or self-adhesive bandage wrap. This (paired with gauze) is great for helping (especially younger) kids get over the “hump” of a bad scrape or cut, while waiting for enough healing to go with a smaller bandage, or no bandage at all. It keeps everything nice and snug and cuts or tears easily to the length you need. This can also wrap a wound securely if you’re headed to the ER.
- Variety-pack of bandaids. It’s nice to have a variety of sizes, but I like for the majority to be the normal sized bandaids, as those are the ones we use most.
- Scissors. They just need to be sharp. I prefer small haircutting shears like these. These are helpful for cutting bandages, fabric tape, or even cutting ripped clothes out of the way so you can get to a cut more quickly.
- Neosporin. Classic for cuts and wounds. I have started buying mine at Dollar Tree because they’re nice little tubes for a dollar.
- Epsom Salt. This is something I always keep in our bathroom, so for times when we’re home and a child gets bad stings or bites, it’s my first line of defense. A warm/hot sink of water, with a cup or two of epsom salts will greatly soothe fire ants bites, bee stings, and other bug bites (this worked like a charm in Texas, where our kids regularly got fire ants bites!). It’s also a great thing to add to the bathwater of a child having fever, stomach problems, or itchy skin, as it draws out toxins and soaks their body in magnesium to help them relax.
- Sting Care— I didn’t used to have this in my first aid kit, because we were almost always at home with epsom salt close at hand, but now that we do some camping and outdoorsy trips, I’ve added it. If we ever do get a bad sting or bite, I want to have something to offer my little people to give at least some help.
- When we head out on a trip, I carry a simple ziplock with sample size portions of over-the-counter medicines for common maladies: Ibuprofen, Immodium, Benadryl, Dramamine, cough drops, chapstick, Tums, and (now that we have some migraine-sufferers in our family) Excedrin Migraine. I don’t carry enough to treat days and days of an affliction, but it gives me enough to offer someone a few doses to start off with, before we can make it to a store to get a full pack.
- One final tip: we keep our First Aid Kit in cleaning caddy containers with the handles in the center. This allows us to easily carry it with us on multi-day trips as a family. I like, too, that this lets me grab the entire kit and carry it to where the person is (whether outside, or even just up to the counter while I’m treating a cut/scrape).
(Note: all links in this post go to the best deals I could find on Amazon.)
A couple times a year (usually right before trips), I assess what’s still in the kit, locate any missing items (like scissors) and make sure we stock back up on anything that’s gotten low (usually bandaids and neosporin… occasionally something else).
Having a hearty first-aid kit comes in handy when:
- your 3-year-old busts his chin on the tub and the “good” ER is 30 minutes away.
- your 8-year-old’s hand goes through a window
- someone gets a nasty-looking scrape from doing scooters on the sidewalk
- your child is standing in the middle of an ant pile getting covered and bitten by them before realizing they’ve done so.
IN THE COMMENTS, SHARE: Are you happy with your current first aid solution? Do you have everything you need in an accessible place when those near-ER-moments happen?