Imagine for a moment that a major earthquake has just occurred in a nearby town. Because you live in a neighboring city or town you feel the earthquake quite strong. You are taken by surprise and the first thing that comes to mind is the safety of your family. You dash underneath a large table and hope the table will not collapse from the falling debris. After the trembling stops, you call out for your kids and are thankful everyone is responding. However, as you walk through to check up on everyone, you notice your home is absolutely ruined. What do you do next? You’re trapped in your home and have no communication between you and the outside world. The earthquake is so destructive that authorities and relief agencies will take approximately 72 hours to reach you and provide your family with any necessary aid. Now you discover your smallest child is dizzy from a nearby gas fire, loses consciousness, and has experienced some severe cuts and bruises. What do you do now?
Although this scenario is unpleasant to think about, we need to realize emergencies are real. Whether an injury occurs during a major emergency or on a camping trip, the urgency is the same. Infection or loss of blood can be serious and perhaps even fatal. That is why it is important to have emergency supplies on hand, particularly first aid items, and gain the knowledge to use them so you can provide relief for your own family.
Over the years, we have received calls from hundreds of people asking questions regarding emergency first aid. Here are some commonly asked questions that can help you eliminate unneeded stress or injury–before an emergency actually occurs.
Where do I start? What first aid items will I need?
You can get a good head start by purchasing a preassembled first aid kit. You will find most preassembled kits have been put together through much feedback by those who have experience treating injuries during a crisis. Some basic first aid essentials include gauze, tape, adhesive strips, scissors, antibiotic ointment, bandages, burn treatment dressings or lotions, rash or itch creams, thermometers, arm splints, tweezers, safety pins, pain reliever, antiseptic towelettes, ammonia inhalants, instant ice packs, sponges, eye washes, rubbing alcohol, etc. Although preassembled kits contain the most common items needed during emergencies, it is important to gather items that fit your particular needs. Prescription medications needed for asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, etc., are crucial for your first aid kit. Also, be sure to include special items needed by small children or the elderly.
First aid kits come in all sizes and include from basic items to supplies used by emergency medical technicians. With the right training a surgical kit would be wise preparation. First, determine what items you will need the most and how much you will need of each item. For example, families with small children will probably need extra adhesive bandages and items for scrapes and cuts such as antiseptic towelettes. Or, you can specialize a first aid kit to meet a particular need or situation (i.e. auto first aid kit, camping first aid kit, home first aid kit, business first aid kit, etc.) Second, you should purchase a kit containing items that best suit your needs. It is useless to have a professional kit containing items you do not know how to use, or to have a kit too basic to treat emergency needs.
Where is the best place to store my first aid kit?
You should keep a portable first aid kit in your emergency kit. You will find that if all items are kept in a convenient location in your home or automobile, you can grab what you need without having to scramble to find your emergency essentials. A common mistake is to overload your first aid or emergency kit. Remember, your kits should be lightweight and easy to carry. In order to survive most natural disasters, you are required to act quickly. First aid items, along with other emergency items should be kept in a compact, lightweight storage container such as a duffel bag, backpack, or carrying case. Do not keep your kits in a hard to reach place such as an attic or storage closet.
What if I can’t afford to buy a comprehensive first aid kit?
Keep in mind that a first aid kit is an investment like an insurance policy. Some people may prefer to purchase a portable stereo or a new outfit over a first aid or emergency kit. However, those who have lived through an emergency either regret not having had the needed supplies or are relieved they planned ahead and invested wisely. If budget is a concern, start small. Obtain the most important items first, such as adhesive bandages and pain relievers. Then, as your budget permits, add to the items you already have.
Finally, remember that first aid items can help save lives during a crisis. It is easier to invest the time and money in first aid supplies once you understand the difference this kind of preparation can make during an emergency. Once you have purchased your supplies, begin learning more about first aid relief and how to properly use your supplies, especially first aid kits containing surgical supplies or other items that may be difficult to use without prior knowledge and practice. By combining knowledge with the appropriate supplies, you can make a difference and help save lives during an emergency. This can only happen if you put first aid first.