How to Build a Summer First Aid Kit

Knolling collection of first aid articles.

Knolling collection of first aid articles.

Summer brings fun, but it can also bring injuries if we are not careful or prepared. The most common summer injuries include cuts, ticks, poison ivy, sunburns, eye injuries, and broken bones. Fortunately, it’s simple to take preventive measures to stop these problems in their tracks.

One great way to prepare is to create two “summer first aid kits” – one for your home and one for your car, so you have it when you need it. You can start with a premade first aid kit with the basics, or make your own from scratch. A small backpack or nylon waterproof bag is ideal for holding the supplies you will need.

What supplies will you need? Here is what I recommend.

Medications (liquid formulations for children who don’t take pills):

  • Benadryl, for allergic reactions
  • Any prescription medication you might need immediately:
    • Epi-pen
    • Inhaler, such as albuterol
  • Ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen
  • Dramamine, nausea medication
  • Sunblock
  • Bug spray
  • Antibiotic ointment

For Wounds:

  • Bandaids
  • Gauze – regular and non-stick pads (4x4s and 2x2s)
  • Gauze wrap – to hold on bandages
  • Medical tape
  • Bottle of saline to rinse out wounds
  • Betadine for cleansing wounds
  • Women’s maxi pad – can help with bleeding wounds
  • Tampon – smallest size, can help with nose bleeds
  • SAM splint – These are 2 layers of foam with a thin layer of aluminum in between. If you hike or play a lot of sports, these are great. They can be cut to size with regular scissors, and molded at the injured area such as a broken wrist or forearm to provide stability (if you have a broken bone, keeping it from moving will make it a lot less painful!) until you can get to a medical facility. It can be held on by an ACE brandage/wrap.
  • ACE bandage/wrap
  • Tweezers – with a fine point – for pulling out splinters, etc.
  • Tick twister
  • Scissors – small pair, for cutting wound dressings to the right size
  • Water bottle – for cleaning out wounds
  • Alcohol wipes – for cleaning first aid kit tools, such as scissors and tweezers

Learn more about Urgent Care at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Daniel Weinstein, MD, is medical director for Urgent Care at the University of Vermont Medical Center.


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