Basic health and safety supplies to have on hand.Keeping your family safe is — and will always be — your number-one priority. Every household has its share of ailments and minor accidents. Having a properly stocked medicine cabinet can help ensure that you can provide basic first aid until you see your health care provider.
Here are medical/ first aid supplies to always have on hand:
• A first-aid manual such as the American Red Cross’s First Aid & Emergency Preparedness Quick Reference Guide — a quick resource for minor illness or first aid.
• A digital thermometer (most can be used rectally or in the armpit).
• Non-aspirin liquid pain reliever (acetaminophen and, for six months or older, ibuprofen).
• Topical calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream (0.5 percent or one percent) for insect bites and rashes. Benadryl lotion is not recommended for children.
• Petroleum jelly or a water-soluble lubricant.
• Antibacterial ointment for cuts and scrapes.
• A bulb syringe for drawing mucus out of a stuffy nose in kids younger than two years, or in a child who has difficulty blowing his nose.
Saline drops to loosen mucus before you use the bulb syringe.
• Adhesive bandage strips in various shapes and sizes.
• Rolls of gauze (1/2 to 2 inches wide) for making bandages.
• Gauze pads (2 x 2 and 4 x 4 inches) for making bandages or applying pressure to cuts to stop the bleeding. A box of Telfa pads for minor burns, as these types of pads won’t stick to a burn or wound.
• Adhesive tape for making bandages.
• Sharp scissors for cutting gauze and tape.
• Cotton balls for applying liquids (like calamine lotion) and for cleaning supplies with alcohol.
• Mild liquid soap for cleaning cuts and scrapes.
• An oral syringe for administering medicines that don’t come with a measuring dropper (some parents find it easier to use a syringe than a dropper). This can be purchased in the first aid section of your local pharmacy.
• Electrolyte solution for hydration after vomiting (must be refrigerated after opening).
• A heating pad for minor aches and pains.
• An instant cold compress to reduce swelling that comes with minor bumps and bruises.
• Rubbing alcohol to clean thermometers, tweezers and scissors. (Note that rubbing alcohol is no longer recommended for alcohol baths to decrease a fever.)
• A small flashlight for checking your child’s nose, ears and mouth. Check battery life regularly, and replace batteries if needed.
Finally, organizing a medicine cabinet is important, but many dangers can result if it is easily accessible. Here are a few points from Safe Kids Worldwide:
• If any medications — such as cough preparations or non-aspiration analgesics — are in your medicine cabinet, make sure they are up and away and out of sight of kids after every use.
• Always put away any medicine or ointment after use. Don’t be tempted to keep it handy to use again. Buy child-resistant packages when available, and close them securely every time.
Remember these tips, and help keep your loved ones healthy!
Christina Calamaro, PhD, CRNP, is the Director of Nursing Research at Nemour’s A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE. She also has maintained her practice as a PNP for the last 13 years at Drexel Hill Pediatrics, Drexel Hill, PA.