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?
13 thoughts on “How I Built A First-Aid Kit for our Large Family”
This is great! The only other thing I would add is burn gel with lidocaine in it for mild burns. Soothes the pain. (Remember for severe burns do not put anything on it.)
I’ve found this to be a great idea even for our smaller “large” family. The kits never have everything I like to keep on hand, and they do have stuff we’d never use.
One thing I want to point out is the problem with neosporin. Recently we learned (through an unpleasant experience) that about 10-25% of the population is actually allergic to one of the ingredients in neosporin (the neomycin). Many dermatologists no longer recommend neosporin for this reason, and other doctors no longer recommend putting any antibiotic cream on mild cuts/scrapes due to the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A quick google search yields tons of info on this subject. I was really surprised to see that even WebMD had an article talking about the antibiotic resistance issue (they aren’t exactly a crunchy mama website! LOL).
I grew up putting neosporin on cuts and scrapes frequently, and it was never a problem. But given my husband’s allergy to the neomycin in it, I threw out our stash. I’ve since just used lavender essential oil or tea tree oil around wounds instead. Neither of those can cause an antibiotic resistance, and no one in our house is allergic to them. Another alternative is to use just polysporin which is an antibiotic cream minus the neomycin. 🙂
Those EOs are diluted when appropriate, of course. 😉
I rarely use neosporin anymore, although I grew up using it for every scrape/cut. Now, I only use it when I have specific reason to be concerned about possible infection.
I’ve been working on building our stash of first aid supplies, and have a connection for a bunch of great stuff free but wasn’t sure what we’d actually use. So this is timely. And like you, the only accident that has taken us to the ER so far was for our only daughter, not any of the boys.
Thanks for this post!! This is something I seriously need to do. Right now I just have one of the little pre-prepared box kits – I’ve never opened it and have no idea what’s even in it. Not good. We’ve been parents for ten years now, and we still haven’t had any emergency room visits (crossing fingers now) – but I should be more prepared than I am. Thank you!!
Oh wow! Well yay for 10 years with no ER visits! It’s rare for us to even make it a year without one. Maybe we’re just a bunch of risky crazies!!
I think it’s just because of our family dynamics here. Our eldest has a crazy-busy imagination, but in terms of physical feats themselves, tends to be a bit timid. Our second-born has severe physical needs and so isn’t walking, and isn’t too accident-prone because of that. Our third-born, now 4yo, is our crazy-adventurous one, and I’ve been expecting him to land us in the ER for several years now. I expect that he’ll fulfill that at some point! We’re probably going to be a lot more injury-prone in the future. Goodness, another growing-point for me as a mother!! Yikes!! 🙂
Dumb question here. How in the world do you do an Epsom salt bath with a kid? I kinda get the concept as an adult who can be trusted to not drink the water, dunk my face, or scratch my private parts… But my toddler? Yeah… No. Walk me through this. I worked in health care, even trained in an ER before becoming homemaker & SAHM so I really ought to know better and have a better grasp of our first aid kit, but ours is kind of a collection of random things in different places around the home (that only I know where to find what) and a couple store bought kits. Oops. I’ll hand over my ninja-mom card as soon as I remember where I put that too. But seriously, explain this Epsom salt bath thing. Please. And thank you for giving me a such a lovely outline of what to include in a first aid kit.
Well, Epsom salts are entirely safe to drink (we don’t, but they are used as a natural bowel relaxer) so it wouldn’t be the worst thing for a child to dunk his head but I don’t know what to tell you beyond that. I wouldn’t say my kids never put their faces under, but it does seem to be more rare here than you’re describing.
Regardless, the most common way I use Epsom salts for first aid is for bug bites/stings and that’s usually filling up the bathroom sink and letting them sit (or lay) on the counter to dangle in the foot, leg, arm, or hand that got bitten/stung. So for that I’m sitting right next to them, or maybe (for older kids who I don’t worry about falling), I’ll bring them a book to read while their foot soaks or whatever.
Does that help?
For Epsom salt baths, we just treat it like a normal bath time and I don’t worry about it if they were to accidentally dunk under or whatever. It’s not medicinal, it’s just magnesium– so there’s no reason for concern!
Sweet! This I can handle! Full disclosure: my kid (part mermaid) has been sick all wknd, I’m exhausted & pregnant (clearly not in possession of my ninja card), and my husband (the level headed half of our dynamic duo) is traveling for work. So we are about to the “let’s just play mad scientist and see what happens” level of dealing with the sick.
I know this is an old post, but I was re-referencing it as I stocked our family’s first aid kit for summer and thought of something that has been very important to us:
Tweezers, actual metal ones, are super-helpful to have in a kit for removing splinters and ticks. You want to sanitize them (with the alcohol wipes) before and after using them. Maybe it’s just us, but my kids are splinter magnets. And the cheap plastic ones tweezers that most pools or front desks have are pretty much worthless!