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First aid kit

Having a well-stocked first aid kit is important in any home, but if you’re caring for an elderly family member, it’s absolutely essential.
3 min read
In this article
Preparing for a medical emergency What should be in a first aid kit? Storing a first aid kit

Preparing for a medical emergency

It’s important to be prepared for a medical emergency, particularly if you’re caring for a family member or friend. 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 minor accidents, as well as more serious incidents and emergencies.

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

What should be in 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 examples of the items you’re 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.

If you're caring for someone, check with them or their GP if there are any incompatibilities with ibuprofen and /or paracetamol and other medications they are taking.

If you’re filling a first aid kit for a loved one who may need to use it in the event of an accident, make sure they're able to open all of the containers and packages, particularly if they have painful joints or limited strength in their hands. We offer some tips about useful products that can help people overcome these kinds of physical problems in our article on medication management systems.

Find out more

Which? asked pharmacists which first aid products are really useful, and which ones you don’t need:

Storing a first aid kit

Keep the first aid box in a place that’s easily accessible for anyone who might need to use it, yet out of reach of young children. Make sure the kit is stored somewhere cool and dry, and remember to check regularly to ensure that it’s fully stocked.

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

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Further reading

Free prescriptions

People over the age of 60 are eligible for free prescriptions. Read about prescription payment and collection options.

Managing medication

Read about correctly storing medication and how using a pill dispenser can help you take medication as prescribed.

Managing incontinence

There are a range of products that can help manage or relieve incontinence – and small adjustments to the home and ...

Last updated: 16 Apr 2021