First-aid kit checklist

Are you prepared for a midnight mishap or after-school scare? Here's what you need to build the ultimate first-aid kit.

Photo by Roberto Caruso

Emergency phone numbers
Keep a list of emergency phone numbers affixed to the lid of your first-aid kit. Include contact info for your local poison control centre (check safekid.org/pcc.htm for the one nearest you), your doctor, and a reminder that 911 reaches the police, ambulance and fire department. Jot down the home and work numbers of family, friends and neighbours who can help.

Download this handy first aid checklist printable to keep track of the essentials below.

Bandages, gauze, scissors, first-aid tape and antibiotic ointment
These are must-haves for scratches and scrapes. Keep triangular bandages on hand; use them to hold dressings in place or fasten with safety pins to make a sling to support a broken arm until you can get to the hospital.

Antihistamine in kids’ liquid or meltaway tablets, and adult formulation
Hive help is here! Use an over-the-counter antihistamine to cope with non-life-threatening allergic reactions.

Digital ear thermometer
For quick fever detection and monitoring.

Age-appropriate doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen for everyone in the family
For fever and pain relief. Go ahead and buy the drugstore’s brand, says Sarah Gander, a paediatrician in Saint John, NB: “There are very few examples of the brand name being any different from the generic.”

Tip: Weigh your child regularly; you’ll get better and safer results if you give your child the correct dose for her weight, instead of dosing by age.

Instant cold packs or ice packs
Keep ice packs in the freezer to ease bumps and swelling. (Instant cold packs can be kept right in your first-aid kit until you need them; a chemical reaction makes them cold.)

Tweezers
Use tweezers to remove dirt from a wound, ease out splinters and dislodge ticks (or the raisin your kid stuck in his nose).

Compression wraps in adult and child sizes
Slip on a compression wrap to treat muscle pulls and tears. “In the early stages of injury to support muscles, they begin to heal and control the spread of swelling,” advises Philip Emberley of the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

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Our experts:

Sunita Vohra, associate professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, member of the Canadian Paediatric Society
Diane McLaren, natural health practitioner, registered nutritionist and iridologist at Healthy You Wellness Centre in Mississauga, Ont.
Amanda Guthrie, naturopathic doctor and founder of Whole Health Toronto
Susan Waserman, president of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, staff physician at Hamilton Health Sciences