As a retired firefighter and first aid instructor, this has always seemed like a pretty simple answer. Yet the majority of first aid kits on the market are comprised of mostly band-aids and some alcohol wipes. I looked for an average kit on Amazon and I found a kit with 300 items of which 155 are band-aids of various sizes and 60 wipes. This kit will not do you much good in a trauma situation.

Since there are 3 main causes of death, a good first aid kit should be able to treat each one.  Those 3 things that people die from are, not breathing, bleeding too much and shock.

So, if the person is not breathing the first aid kit must be able to help improve the quality of CPR. That would mean a high-quality mouth barrier that provides the rescuer with maximum protection to remove any fears of mouth-to-mouth breaths. To minimize brain damage breathing for the victim is still taught in CPR classes.  If you want the facts regarding “Hands Only” CPR check out this link.

Next would-be dressings that can control severe bleeding. That would mean a few 5×9 trauma dressings and/or a blood stopper dressing. This blood stopper dressing is a non-stick 5×9 dressing with rolled gauze that can also create a pressure dressing. This dressing could also be used to treat burns, and the gauze could also be used for packing wounds.

The third item of importance that every first aid kit should contain is a thermal blanket to address shock.

When shock sets in, keeping the patient warm are critical. Nothing works better in the field than a thermal blanket. Even though it is paper-thin, the secret is its ability to reflect the victim’s body heat right back to the victim helping to maintain body core temperature.

A good quality first aid kit should also be able to cool burns even when water is unavailable. A burn gel dressing will cool the burn, stop the pain, stop the burn progression, and help protect against infection. It will not stick to the wound so when it is removed you minimize any more trauma to the burn.

Triangular dressings and a splint are also great items to include. You want to be able to stabilize any fractures to minimize the damage to the limb.

In a real emergency, you will need a good quality first aid kit.

And of course, you do need some band-aids and wipes but probably not 215 of those two items which I think are the least important. Now most kits contain alcohol wipes, but these are for cleaning your hands never use them on a wound. Alcohol will cause more damage to already damaged tissue. Antiseptic wipes (BZK) do not contain any alcohol, so they are safe to clean minor wounds and abrasions.

For first aid training visit our online first aid course and for a good quality first aid kit check out our “Real” first aid kit.