You may have already heard of The Parent Company, specialists in First Aid classes for babies and children. When they told us that their trainers find the same questions and misconceptions arise again and again in their classes, we asked them if they could tell us what they were.  They have agreed to cover a new topic in each newsletter to pass on their knowledge to all of us. In this edition they share all you need to know about first aid kits.

What essential first aid ‘kit’ do you think parents should keep at home?

I have always found the contents of first aid kits to be a bit of a mystery.   There are so many little plastic packages holding various shapes and sizes of bandage and dressings. Most of them will never be used and if I am looking for something specific I usually end up opening 2 or 3 packages before I find what I just might need. Once opened they are no longer sterile and therefore no use the next time I need them.

This list was put together in consultation with our paediatric nurse first aid trainers. They chose the items that they know work for parents and they kept it simple.

This is a first aid kit for the home. For this reason we assume that you will have running water – one of the best first aid tools available to us.

This list may look daunting but most first aid kits will have the items listed below. Hopefully our descriptions might help you to work out what to do with each item!

First Aid Scissors  

Good quality scissors used for cutting dressings and bandages and for cutting clothing away from a wound, burn or scald. 

Tweezers

 Fine point tweezers for picking out splinters. DO NOT use for insect stings as this can spread the venom. Instead cool the sting with an ice cube to restrict the blood flow from the area and stop the spread of the allergen. 

Plasters

Hypo allergenic plasters for minor cuts, scratches and bleeding. They will protect the wound, keep it clean and help stop bleeding. 

Wound Closures (also known as steri strips) 

These strips stick on to the skin directly over the wound and help to close a deep cut, reduce bleeding and prevent wounds from re-opening. If used properly they can sometimes save stitches however they can be quite fiddly and our nurses were divided as to whether these are a good tool for parents. If a cut requires a wound closure you probably need to visit a medical professional. 

Wound Dressings

Individually wrapped sterile wound dressings. They have a soft, absorbent wound pad, which cushions the injured area and protects from infection. As the dressing is sterile please do not touch the padded part. The strong elastic bandage will hold the dressing securely.  There are different sizes of these available and also an eye version. 

Low Adherent Dressings

These are useful to cover open wounds such as grazes and burns and can be held in place with either tape or a bandage. The low adherent dressing should be applied directly on to the wound. It will keep the dressing from sticking to the wound and provides cushioned protection too.  Make sure you read the instructions as some are double sided and others will have a specific side that you should use. 

Tape

Hypo-allergenic tape can be used to hold dressings in place.

Sterile Non Woven Swab (also known as gauze pads)

Use these sterile and absorbent pads to clean a wound. Use with clean water and gently wipe away from the wound. The gauze pad should not be left directly on a wound as it may stick to it. 

Gloves

Latex free gloves will protect you and the person you are treating from infection. They should be worn when treating cuts, particularly if you cannot wash your hands.

Crepe Bandage

This bandage is used to provide light support and restrict movement to sprains and strains.  Take care not to make it too tight as this can restrict blood flow.

Triangular Bandage

A large supportive bandage that can be used as a sling for supporting shoulders, arms, wrists and hands or to keep an arm raised to stem bleeding. You should be able to find detailed instructions on how to create a sling in any first aid book but this NHS video which is only 1 minute and 25 seconds long explains it very well.

You may wonder why we have not included antiseptic wipes? Rinsing a wound in clean running water is the best way to clean a wound and minimise the risk of infection. Antiseptic wipes are great if you are out and about and can’t get access to water but as this is a kit for the home we would suggest that you do not need them.

Here is a list of items we suggest that you keep in the house to supplement your First Aid Kit:

Rehydration Treatment: This powder is used to help replace body fluids and salts lost during illness and diarrhoea. It is usually a powder that is mixed with water to make a drink. An example of a rehydration treatment is Dioralyte.

Paracetamol: For pain relief and fevers. If a child is in pain paracetomol will help to keep him or her calm and also make it easier for medical staff to do their job.

Allergy Medicine: To relieve the symptoms of hayfever; allergies and insect bites; An example of an allergy medicine is Piriton.

Ibuprofen: Anti inflammatory medicine which can also bring down fevers. It is also good for muscular pain and high temperatures.  An example of an Ibuprofen medicine is Nurofen for kids

Bite/Sting treatment: A spray or cream for the treatment of insect bites and stings. An example of a bite/sting treatment is Wasp Eze.

Arnica Cream: A popular homeopathic first aid application for bruises resulting from injuries, knocks and falls.

First Aid Book: You may have the internet at your fingertips but a good first aid book from a trusted source is portable,  will be easy to navigate and will have useful pictures and diagrams. We recommend First Aid for Babies and Children Fast by Dorling Kinderlsley.

Burns dressings: These specific dressings contain a special formulation that can provide relief and reduce damage.

Thermometer: We recommend a digital underarm thermometer. It can be used for a one day old baby through all ages

Ice Pack: For sprains and strains.

Always Refill – as you use items from the first-aid kit, be sure to replace them so that you are always prepared for any emergency.

This article is provided by The Parent Company for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or any other health care professional. The Parent Company is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made or actions taken by a user based on the information it contains.

These questions have been answered by The Parent Company. We provide private first aid classes in your own home for small groups. Our trainers are all paediatric nurses working in Accident and Emergency, paediatric wards or in the community. Call 020 7935 9635  or visit The Parent Company for more information.