How to Use a First Aid Kit

Accidents and injuries can happen anywhere, with absolutely zero warning and when you least expect it. In these cases, prompt and correct action can be the difference between an injury getting worse or healing properly. This is why having an adequately stocked first aid kit on hand is so vital.

Despite a first kit being available, however, many might not know how to use it properly. Knowing how to use the kit correctly helps to ensure the necessary amount of care is given to the wound. This influences how it heals, mitigates the risks of infection, and ensures the injury is improperly treated.

Common Uses of a First Aid Kit:

A first aid kit is typically needed for injuries such as:

  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Abrasions
  • Splinters
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Stings

Some medical items will be present in the kit that can address specific symptoms as well, including:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Allergies
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Skin problems
  • Mild pain

The practical application is what matters most here and how to use a first aid kit can be adequately figured out by studying the kit and all its contents. It’s also helpful to know what particular injuries and wounds need at any given time; for example, the way you would treat a cut is different than how you would treat a burn.

It’s essential that you understand precisely how to use all of the items in the first aid kit. Ensure that the kit has latex gloves inside to prevent any direct contact with bodily fluids. Also, make sure that you check the kit twice a year to replace any expired medication.

If you happen to be unfamiliar with any items in your kit, here is a brief rundown that will give you a good idea of just which items may be needed for which type of injury.

  • Plasters – these are typically used for small grazes, cuts, and scrapes.
  • Sterile pad – this item provides more cushioning and can be held in place with sticky tape.
  • Sterile wound dressing- these are reserved for the more sizable cuts and gashes. Best used when needing to apply pressure or stop bleeding. An easy option in an emergency.
  • Roller bandages – long and thin bandages that are rolled up. Used to support joint injuries, hold wound dressings steady and reduce swelling.
  • Triangular bandages – triangle shaped cloth bandages that can be used as a sling or a wound dressing if sterile.
  • Alcohol-free cleansing wipes – disinfecting the skin is vital, but alcohol will burn the wound. Use wipes without alcohol added to ensure the surface is clean and to prevent infections.
  • Sticky tape – to hold dressings down on and against the skin.
  • Scissors – to cut sterile pads. In the event of a more severe injury, to cut the item of clothing to get better access to the wound.
  • Tweezers – necessary for wood splinters or to remove glass shards from a wound.
  • Alcohol gel/Anti-bacterial – to clean hands before and after, if there isn’t any water nearby.

Certain first aid kits may need specific items added to them depending on where they will be stored. A first aid kit that is kept in the car could use a warning triangle to put on the road to warn other drivers to slow down. Keeping things like a flashlight and a high visibility jacket in the car next to the first aid kit is also a recommended actionable option.

It’s important to think about having proper first aid materials when you go on camping trips or outdoor activities where you may be far away from medical attention. An extra blanket is also a good idea. Pack a torch to enable you to attract attention in the dark if there is an emergency and you need additional assistance. A whistle is also great in the event you’re in wide open, highly dense spaces where it may be hard to be located.

Being well versed in certain emergency practices is also a great way to stay prepared in the event of an emergency. How to administer emergency medication, perform the Heimlich maneuver or give CPR in an emergency situation should be standard knowledge for all.


Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at

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