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Every Home Should Have One
First Aid Kits in general
Member Name: sy2kgbr
First Aid Kits in general
Advantages: Can help save a life.
Disadvantages: Takes time to put it all together.
Now, as a member of the British Red Cross, I believe it's very important that we all have proper first-aid stuff to hand. One of the first things I always ask when starting a new job is where the first-aid kit is, not because I think I'll ever need to use it, but because I might have to. You can never tell with these things. Kits come in all shapes and sizes - if you saw the huge one that I use when doing first-aid duties, you'd balk. It's massive!
This review is my opinion of stuff that should be found in the 'ultimate' first aid kit, if you really want to be prepared. Now, I should make it quite clear, that this is MY OPINION as a Dooyooer and shouldn't be construed in any way, shape or form as professional advice. I'm trained to do first-aid, BUT I'm not trained to train anyone in how they should do first-aid. This review is entirely personal and in no ways should be taken as advice from BRC. Got that?:)
BANDAGES AND DRESSINGS
Although it's fairly easy to improvise an arm sling without one of these if you really need to, triangular bandages are so useful for leg splints! Ordinarily, you shouldn't need to do a leg splint as the ambulance will get to you quickly enough for it not to be necessary, but if you're going out into the wilderness or live in a rural area with poor emergency service response times, very useful indeed.
**Crepe roller bandages & conforming bandages**
You just can't have a proper first aid kit without them! Bandages will help support broken or injured parts of the body. If your casualty has been impaled by something that you shouldn't take out for fears of making the injury worse, stick a few rolled up bandages around the object to stop it from moving and then bandage around the item and the wound.
Not something to skrimp on, especially if you have children in your care! These are available in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes, from the tiny dot shaped plasters to cover up needle bleeds (generally speaking, you can do without these!) to the 'butterfly' or 'bell' plasters that are especially excellent for protecting wounds on little fingers.
**Sterile dressing pads & non-adherent absorbent dressings**
These come in all sizes, but generally speaking, are quite big things that are used for the nastier looking wounds that plasters just don't cover. Useful for all sorts of situations ranging from gun shot wounds to nasty grazes from falling onto hard surfaces like tarmac. Keep an abundant supply of all sizes handy!
For fingers. I wouldn't rate this one as absolutely essential for a first-aid kit, but it can't hurt (no pun intended) to have some available.
**Sterile eye pads**
Self-explanatory, really... They're for the eye!
**Sterile gauze swabs**
Can be handy for little wounds that are too big for a regular plaster.
For holding those dressings in place that need something sticky (e.g. sterile pads) or for reinforcing the sticky quality of things that refuse to stick (e.g. plasters). Make sure you look for the 'hypoallergenic' kind as a lot of people do have allergies to the regular sticky stuff.
Most bandages should come with a special flat clip, but if you lose that, use a safety pin. These little things are useful when you need to improvise e.g. if you're out of triangular bands and want to pin up someone's jacket as a temporary sling instead.
For cutting, surprisingly enough. The proper first aid scissors can cut through a 2p coin (although this will blunt them forever, so don't try it!) and will cut through heavy denim trousers if you have a bad leg injury you need to treat, or cut through bandages and dressings if you need to make them a bit smaller. Also cuts tape. Scissors have a myriad of possible uses; definitely an essential item!
For small cuts and grazes.
For pulling out stings and nasty splinters.
Although your priority to the casualty is to preserve life, and if you can't prevent infection, well, that's a secondary problem, your priority to yourself is to protect yourself. A dead or seriously ill first-aider is of no use to anyone. If you won't wear gloves for your casualty, wear them for yourselves. Lots of diseases and infections can get around via bodily fluids and tiny cuts you may not have noticed you have, so buy the gloves and wear them. If you have latex allergies, vinyl gloves are available to buy, and normally they're much nicer. In fact, I think if you buy a kit from BRC, vinyl is standard for those reasons.
To keep you protected from bodily fluids and other nasty stuff in a major accident.
USEFUL STUFF YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF
**Pen and paper**
If you're treating someone outwidth your family, you might want to scrible down useful stuff here, such as if they know they have any pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, age, next-of-kin, when they last ate, when they last took any drugs (prescription or otherwise)... If nothing else, it'll give you a reason to keep talking to the casualty until the professionals arrive. It might make you feel better too, as scribbling down medical notes like these doesn't require training, but will help focus your mind, keep YOU calm and give you something to do. If you're professionally trained to perform first-aid on members of the public like me, you might want to make Glasgow Coma Scale notes.
If you're taking your kit with you on your travels, a torch can be useful, especially when out in the countryside.
For keeping burns clean and protected until the ambulance arrives with more high-tech equipment. Normal bandages and dressings will stick to burn wounds in a bad way, but clingfilm can be your friend. For wounds to the ends of appendages, (e.g. hands, feet) a plastic bag (I'm talking a nice new, clean plastic freezer bag, not the one you use for your shopping!) can work surprisingly well.
Stops you having to guess the real temperature of the casualty.
There are a billion reasons why you might need one. If someone is fitting and you cannot safely move any hazards nearby (e.g. an old really heavy table), wrap up a blanket and use it as a bluffer between the object and the casualty. If you're improvising a leg split, you can use a small blanket as padding between the legs. If your casualty is cold and you need to gradually warm them up, hey, a blanket works wonders. Just keep at least one handy!
Of course, water can be nearly just as good if you're stuck without this stuff, but eyewash solution is always useful.
**Vomit scraper/vomit box**
These are available in the larger first aid kits, but don't come as standard with most ones you can buy in the shops. I know this isn't a pleasant side of first-aid, but these can come in handy. If you can't hold of them, keep a few plastic bags (check for holes in the bottom!) in your kit. Especially if you have kids!
Now, if you're first-aid trained and come across an unconscious casualty whose airway is clear, but who isn't breathing, you may have to perform CPR. Those Resci-Annie dolls you've learnt on are always nice and clean, but real people? Sometimes they smell, sometimes they've coughed up blood, sometimes they've drunk chemicals and they've got horrible looking burns... Where there is no risk to your own life, as a human being, you are morally obliged to perform CPR if you know how to do so properly. A face shield can make things so much more pleasant, as well as offering you a bit more protection than normal. These are hard to track down, but BRC sell them online for £2.90 + P&P.
One for the ladies. I'm not suggesting that an unexpected period is a first-aid scenario, but miscarriage and abdominal injuries are. If you're a bloke, you may need to ask your other half to get some for the first-aid kit, as I'd imagine you wouldn't really want to buy them yourself!
Essential for treating heart attacks as they thin the blood. Make sure you always have some in your kit since you never know when you'll need them.
If you have children, make sure to keep some of the milder stuff handy that's designed with them in mind. If anyone in your family is allergic to a certain type of painkillers, make sure to an alternative version in your kit.
I'm not suggesting you should keep all of your family's medicine in your first aid kit, as that would be silly, but if anyone has severe allergies, a spare epi-pen might be a useful addition. Similarly, a spare inhaler for someone with asthma. Use your common sense and keep only the essential stuff here that you might need in an emergency. If someone you love is seriously ill, it might make you panic and stop you from being able to remember where they keep their personal stash of drugs, but people rarely forget where the main first aid kit is.
WHERE TO BUY
Standard first-aid kits can be picked up from high-street shops such as Boots The Chemist. I would recommend buying one of those and just adding to it, all the extra stuff that you personally think you need. It's the most cost-effective way to get a kit together. If there are any particular items you need that you can't find (I'm specfically thinking of face shields here), then try the BRC online shop:
P&P is a bit steep if you're only getting one little item, but if you're stocking up on a lot of things or want to order in supplies for you and a couple of neighbours, I'd heartily recommend doing so, as BRC really do know their stuff. I hope this review has inspired you to dust out your old first-aid kit and check it's not missing stuff, or to purchase one if you don't have one already! If you have never been first-aid trained, or your qualification has expired, you should seriously consider looking into courses running near you. Try the Yellow Pages, and if you can't find anything specific, call up your nearest branch of either the Red Cross, St. John's Ambulance or St. Andrew's Ambulance, as they will know what's going on in your area.
Thanks for the read, hope you found this useful!:)
Summary: The most important thing you may ever own.