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Planning Retirement Online

A First-Aid kit for Winter

December 2012

Winter First-Aid KitCheck out your first aid kit

Every home should have a first aid kit for obvious reasons. Many people put together their own first aid kit and tuck it away. Then, unless they move or an emergency occurs, it remains tucked away, unopened and unexamined for years and years.

Suddenly, when you need it, you may find everything out of date and damaged - or you may not even be able to find it!

At the beginning of every winter and every summer at the very least, your home first aid kit should be taken out, all the contents examined and items replaced as necessary. New product is coming out all the time, so the first aid kit you put together even three years ago may well be very out of date.

Of course you can buy ready made first aid kits but surprisingly these often have very limited contents.

The online St John’s Ambulance (£7.75p) home first aid kit contains a range of dressings and plasters, some sterile cleansing wipes, gloves, bandage and a first aid booklet which is all very well but there is nothing for some common day problems such as something getting in the eye or an insect sting.

The Boots version of the St John Ambulance first aid kit is better. At a similar price it contains an eye wash phial and a splinter remover as well as the standard dressings, tape and bandage.

But really it is much better for everyone to prepare their own first aid kit. That way ensures you know what is in it and you can also gear the contents to any specific likely problems you or your family might encounter.

Bupa offer a lot of good advice on home first aid kits and recommend that people consider a range of items including the following:

Antiseptic wipes or spray for cleaning cuts and grazes.
Gauze squares to clean wounds.
Non-sticky dressings, such as Melolin, for covering wounds.
Fabric plasters (individually wrapped).
A selection of individually wrapped wound dressings.
A triangular bandage for making a sling.
Crepe bandages for supporting a sprain.
Surgical tape, such as Micropore, for holding a dressing in place.
Scissors for cutting tape, plasters and bandages.
Safety pins for securing bandages.
Tweezers for removing objects, such as splinters.
Digital thermometer for checking body temperature.
Disposable gloves to protect from exposure to blood.
Eyewash solution and sterile eye pads.
A foil blanket for keeping someone warm.
First aid book.

Many people like to include insect bite ointments, antiseptic ointments, sprays and wipes, heat rubs for sprains and ligaments, and a variety of tablets such as aspirin, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen for pain relief or tablets to reduce a fever or indigestion remedies. At our age we usually know what our physically susceptible areas are and first aid kits can be tailored towards personal conditions.

Today it makes sense to keep main medicines and first aid all in one container rather than spread them around the house. This also makes it safer for visiting grandchildren.

Get the contents right before you decide on the container because size is important. Too small a container and things will be left around it to spill or get lost. Too big a container will be a nuisance and take up unnecessary space.

There are lots of suitable containers on the market, from simple plastic containers to small tackle boxes and even resealable freezer bags. Hard edged containers are better as they prevent damage. Whatever you choose, it needs to be able to be firmly closed and also waterproof in case of any unfortunate spills.

Once you have assembled your first aid kit in a suitable container, it really is worth listing all the contents and pop them in the top of the container or even stick them on the outside. Remember you may be going to the kit in a hurry, so everything needs to be clear and obvious. It can also be useful to include the number of your local doctor including after hours contact details. Then you finally need to decide where to keep it.

That can be tricky as it needs to be somewhere easy to find and access. Kitchen or lounges are the usual place but some people keep their kits in their bathrooms. Make sure your family and close friends and neighbours are aware of where you keep your first aid kit. Some people even stick little red cross stickers on the outside of the cupboard where the kit is kept and this really is a very good idea. If you suddenly give yourself a bad cut it is amazing how everything can go out of your head!

On top of home first aid kits, many organisations recommend you also have a special first aid kit in the car. These are usually a little smaller but contain the same sort of basics as a home first aid kit. Motoring organisations and specialist retail shops such as Halfords offer specific first aid kits for motorists and here it can sometimes be better and easier to purchase a ready made kit. They contain just the fundamentals, so you may want to try and add one or two additional items, but basically they come in very convenient packaging that fits neatly into cars, much better than a loose plastic box rolling around in the boot.

Sometimes it can seem a big waste of time and money getting a proper first aid kit together; but as the old saying goes, better to be prepared than sorry!


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