The medicine chest or first-aid kit should be kept well stocked and should be checked every 3 to 6 months, replacing any used or expired items. The following basic supplies are useful to have on hand:
Activated charcoal (call the poison control center before using)
Antihistamine for allergic reactions
Antibiotic ointment (such as bacitracin or neomycin)
Antiseptic solution or towelettes (disinfecting wipes)
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen
Bandages in various sizes and shapes
Aspirin, 325 mg, nonenteric coated, to be chewed in case of symptoms of a heart attack Acute Coronary Syndromes (Heart Attack; Myocardial Infarction; Unstable Angina) Acute coronary syndromes result from a sudden blockage in a coronary artery. This blockage causes unstable angina or a heart attack (myocardial infarction), depending on the location and amount... read more (call a doctor before taking)
Cold pack (instant) or ice bag
Compression (elastic) bandage for sprains and strains
Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
Gauze pads in various sizes to stop bleeding and cover wounds
Gloves (latex or nitrile)
Hydrocortisone cream for stings and itchy, inflamed rashes
Pen light or flashlight with extra batteries
Plastic bags for the disposal of potentially contaminated material
Safety pins in different sizes
Warm pack (instant)
The following can be given by lay (nonprofessional) rescuers and may be appropriate for some first aid kits:
Epinephrine injection (for example, EpiPen) for life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis Overview of Allergic Reactions Allergic reactions (hypersensitivity reactions) are inappropriate responses of the immune system to a normally harmless substance. Usually, allergies cause sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, a... read more )
Naloxone (Narcan) nasal spray or injection for overdoses of opioid drugs Emergency treatment Opioids are a class of drugs derived from the opium poppy (including synthetic variations) that are pain relievers with a high potential for misuse. Opioids are used to relieve pain, but they... read more (for example, heroin, oxycodone [including Oxycontin], fentanyl)
Additionally, have the following readily available:
Phone numbers and contact information for your family doctor and/or pediatrician, emergency services, and regional poison control center (1-800-222-1222 in the United States)
List of drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter) that each family member takes
Medical history forms for each family member
Many people consider taking a first-aid course through the American Red Cross or some other agency. See the American Red Cross web site for more information. People may also need to prepare children for medical emergencies in age-appropriate ways and know when to call 911 or the local emergency service.
The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of the resources.
American Association of Poison Control Centers: Represents the US-based poison centers that provide free, confidential services (24/7) through the Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222).
American Red Cross: Provides training opportunities and certification programs that help people to prepare for and prevent emergencies as well as respond to them when they do occur.
Stop the Bleed.org: An American College of Surgeons program that has trained over 1.9 million people worldwide to stop bleeding in the severely injured.