There are many good reasons to learn first aid. The most important reason to know basic first aid is to be able to care for one’s family when a situation occurs that requires it. This is especially important in a case when disaster hits or catastrophes happen, making it difficult or impossible to get to a medical professional.
The common phrase “Safety First” is a good plan, but sometimes injuries can slip through one’s defenses. When this happens, knowing how to handle it, and having the equipment or supplies to handle it, can be crucial. Having the supplies can help, but without the knowledge of how to use them properly, the supplies can be less helpful than one might hope. While prevention tends to be the best option, it does not always succeed in preventing injury or illness because accidents happen. When prevention fails, knowledge of first aid remedies is the next best thing.
The goal of first aid is to aid in healing and prevent loss of life. Because it is possible for a person who is injured to become infected and critically ill, taking care of minor issues quickly is necessary to prevent this from happening. Wounds must be kept clean and covered; broken bones must be stabilized; bleeding must be slowed or stopped. These things serve to increase the likelihood of recovery and promote healing.
Comfort is a good reason to learn to provide first aid. When someone is ill or injured, the stress can restrict recovery. When the patient is kept comfortable, the body is better equipped to heal itself. Sleep is an important part of healing and rebuilding the body, and discomfort can cause one to be unable to sleep well. Knowing the proper way to help someone handle pain without causing further damage is invaluable.
What is Basic First Aid Knowledge?
There are many things involved in first aid knowledge. These include CPR, treating wounds and injuries, controlling pain and fever, fire safety, and in some situations, even using a defibrillator. Knowing how and when to apply these are critical in an emergency situation.
CPR must be administered quickly – within 5 to 10 minutes – in a situation where it is needed; however, knowing when it is appropriate to administer CPR is something that must be learned. Using CPR when it is not required can cause further injury and may be detrimental to health and recovery.
Fire safety involves not just preventing fires, but how to protect against smoke injury and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Defibrillators may be useful in some situations, but since the machines may be difficult to obtain, these may be more rare as a skill to learn. If it is possible to get the information, it can be useful to know how and when to use one, even without owning one, since one can never know if it may be available without an operator at some point in the future due to a disaster.
The usual items contained in a first aid kit include such things as bandages, antibiotic ointment, cotton balls and gauze, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and other such items, along with painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen.
On top of this, if there is an infant in the family, it is wise to accumulate the knowledge of how to treat an infant, as it is different in some ways than typical first aid, as babies have more fragile bodies and are so much smaller. CPR, for instance, is completely different when performed on an infant than when done on an adult or older child. Knowing how to handle such things as choking, proper positioning, and other infant-specific care is very important.
What Supplies Should Be Included?
There are standard items that should be in every first aid kit and there are less common things that may be a good thing to add, especially since others may not have it.
Standard items include the following:
- Antiseptic wipes,
- Bandages in multiple sizes and shapes, both sticky and rolls,
- Burn treatment (cream, gel, or spray),
- Calamine lotion,
- Cold and cough remedies,
- Cotton in balls, pads, and swabs,
- CPR oral barrier,
- Dental mirror,
- Emergency blanket(s),
- Emergency first aid manual,
- Eyewash, sterile saline solution, and eye pads,
- Finger splints,
- Gloves, preferably non-latex (in case of allergy),
- Hand sanitizer,
- Hydrocortisone cream,
- Hydrogen peroxide,
- Insect repellent,
- Instant cold compress,
- Magnifying glass,
- Needles and thread,
- Pain relievers,
- Petroleum jelly,
- Safety pins of various sizes,
- Sterile gauze pads in several sizes,
- Suction device such as a bulb suctioner,
- Syringes and other medication measuring transports, such as spoons and cups,
- Tape – cloth, duct, and cellophane,
- Trash bags, preferably large,
- Triple antibiotic ointment,
- Waterproof matches, and
- Zip-top bags of various sizes.
These things should be checked at least every six months to keep them up to date, removing expired supplies and replacing them with fresh.
Some other things that may be wise to include in an urban prepper medical kit are an epinephrine injector, electrolyte powders, fiber and/or laxative, multivitamins, simethicone or other anti-gas medication, vitamins such as C and D, and minerals such as zinc. Items that can be useful, but some do not think to have include lights, catheters, clotting liquid, a respirator mask, equipment for purifying water, tubes for draining wounds, extra linens, and portable power. A defibrillator may be expensive, but if it ends up being needed, the cost would be worth it.
Medical kits can be purchased premade at places like Amazon, but to put together a complete kit is likely to require more personal attention. Setting up a list of things that are particular to your own household is a good place to start but including things that may be needed by a broader group in the case of a disaster or catastrophe is something to consider, as well.