Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

Having a well-stocked first aid kit is important in any home, but if you are caring for an elderly relative, it is absolutely essential.

You should make sure that your first aid kit is stored appropriately and stocked with everything you might need in the event of an accident or medical emergency.

This page contains information on:

1. Preparing for a medical emergency
2. Storing first aid kits
3. Stocking a first aid kit

Preparing for a medical emergency

It’s important to be prepared for a medical emergency, particularly if you are caring for an elderly relative. Knowing first aid in the event of an accident can help you to stay calm in a potentially stressful and upsetting situation.

You may wish to consider taking a first aid course, such as those offered by the British Red Cross. On these courses, you learn a range of first aid skills including how to deal with small accidents, as well as more serious incidents and emergencies.

Even if you are just a beginner when it comes to first aid, it’s important to have a fully-stocked first aid kit in your home.

Storing first aid kits

Keep the first aid box in a place that is easily accessible for anyone who might need to use it, yet out of reach of young children. For example, if your relative uses a wheelchair, you shouldn’t store the first aid kit in a high wall cabinet. Make sure the kit is stored somewhere cool and dry, and remember to check regularly to ensure that it is fully stocked.

It’s also important to consider the visibility of the first aid kit, and to make sure that any visitors or careworkers are aware of its location in case of an emergency.

Stocking a first aid kit

If you’re putting together a first aid kit from scratch, it may be helpful to have a look at ready-made kits to find out which items are considered to be standard first aid stock. You may also want to think about typical kinds of minor accidents and the supplies you’d want to have to hand, should they occur.

Below are some examples of the items you are likely to find in a standard first aid kit. Bear in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive.

  • antiseptic spray, wipes or cream
  • crepe bandages (for sprains and strains)
  • plasters (ideally waterproof) in a range of different shapes and sizes
  • sterile disposable gloves
  • sterile eye dressings and eyewash solution
  • sterile gauze dressings in a variety of sizes
  • surgical tape, scissors and safety pins
  • thermometer
  • tweezers.

It’s also a good idea to keep a supply of useful medicines in the kit, including antihistamines, cough medicine, and painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. Remember to check the expiry dates of any stored medicines regularly. Also check with your relative or their GP if there are any incompatibilities with ibuprofen and /or paracetamol and other medications they are taking.

If you are filling a first aid kit for a relative who may need to use it in the event of an accident, make sure that they are able to open all of the containers and packages, particularly if they have painful joints or limited strength in their hands.

More information

Page last reviewed: November 2016
Next review due: February 2019