According to the Red cross society, more than 7 million first responders have been trained world wide by Red cross and Red Crescent Societies. These figures comes from the 2010 survey conducted by IFRC in 52 countries globally.
First Aid definition by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is emergency care provided for sudden illnesses or injuries before consulting professional emergency medical treatment.
What should you put in a first aid kit?
Here are the WHO recommendations on contents of a basic medical kit.
- Safety pins
- Antiseptic wound cleaner
- Adhesive tape
- Eye wash
Myths and facts about first aid
What you thought you knew about first aid training might actually not be correct. Instead some ignorant mistakes first responders make might cost innocent victims their lives.
Top three myths about first aid include:
1. The biggest misconception is to lean back your head in case of nose bleeding. It is instead standard procedure to pinch your nose and lean forward when nose bleeding, not forward. Leaning backwards leads the blood back towards the brain which will cause complications.
2. It is not recommended to place anything in the mouth of a patient experiencing seizures to bite on, instead remove anything from their mouth that may cause airways obstruction.
3. Putting cold red meat on a black eye is a myth that is here probably to stay. The fact is that the cold is what is feasible. The meat might introduce harmful bacteria in your bruised eye hence not advisable.
Emergency response kits are invaluable when providing basic life support. It therefore important to choose your first aid kit wisely.
Let me take you through my ultimate guide for the best disaster management kit. First aid kits and it's contents varies according to the needs of the user.
When packing the contents of the kit, the most common type of injuries likely to be experienced are considered. Injuries and accidents are of different types according to the site where the victim is available at time of incident.
Places with high frequency for accidents and injuries include:
1. At work
2. At home
3. Sports and games/ Leisure.
4. At School.
When packing your medical kit, remember to consider the typical injuries likely to be experienced in each and every of these locations in order to make the most use out of it.
1. First aid kit at Work
2. First aid kit at Home
3. First aid kit in Sports and Games/ Leisure
4. First aid kit at School
5. Other factors to consider
6. Recommendations to improve medical kits
7. References and Citations
A. First aid kit at work
Emergency response kits and it's contents in a work setup can vary depending on the work place. Work place can be industrial set up or cooperate offices.
Industrial set up
Workers working in industries are exposed to many dangerous situations that can lead to accidents.
Typical injuries likely to be experienced by workers in industries includes:
Accident 1 : Flame burns.
Burns can results from exposure to open flames especially in industries that use fire to fuel it's production activities.
Solution : workers in flames should be covered in a blanket, drop on the ground and roll to put off the flames.
Recommendation: Use of water jel heat shield fire extinguishing blanket.
The blanket comes in a measurement that can comfortably wrap around anyone and save them by putting off the fire.
Features: Water jel heat shield blanket is designed of worsted wool including an intercellular weave able to absorb up to 13 times it's weight.
The water soluble gell is made of water soluble, bacteriostatic and decomposable. This helps to put off the fire and dull the pain at the burn.
Accident 2: Electrical shock.
A good industrial first aid kit must contain first aid measures to deal with electrical shocks.
Electrical shock results from exposed live wires.
Electrical shocks can lead to electrical burns.
Solution: Incase of electrical shocks turn off the main switch of the facility first.
You can alternatively break contact with the live wires from the victims hand by heating with a dry piece of wood.
Recommendation: Electrical burns should not be covered by any bandages. Instead you can only clean the wounds with antimicrobial wipes to prevent infections.
Accident 3: Chemical burns.
Chemical burns can result from chemical spills especially when acids make contact with bear skin.
Chemical burns should be put in cold water and also washed off with cold water.
wipe with antiseptic wipe to prevent infections by germs.
Accident 4: Eye chemical spills
Chemical splashes can enter the eyes in industrial setup when workers don't wear safety goggles.
Solution: pass clean running water over your eyes to wash away the chemicals.
Recommendation: Use eyewash to clean the chemicals in the eye.
Accident 5: Ice burn.
Ice burn are also called frost bites. Ice burn results from exposure of bare skin to extreme cold temperature. Frost bites can cause skin damage especially in industries that deal with cold temperature like meat processing where meat is preserved at cold temperature.
Solution: Put in lukewarm water to thaw the skin off.
Recommendation: Clean wound with antibacterial wipe after washing with cold to prevent infections by micro organisms. Burn cream should be used also.
Accident 6: Steam scald.
Industries dealing with heat can have the workers suffer from steam burns e.g geothermal plants.
Solution: Put burnt area in cold water and also allow it to cool off at the same time.
Recommendation: Use antimicrobial wipes after dipping in cold water. Also use burn cream.
Point to note:
All types of burn should be immersed in cold water as a first aid measure before seeking a dermatologist's intervention.
Considering the industrial accidents mentioned above, the ultimate Industrial first aid kit I would recommend is the :
A. Metal Case XL 150 person smart compliance Cabinet for First aid with medication excluded.
- Metal casing which is recommended for industrial setup.
- The cabinet is highly organised to ensure supplies never go missing.
- An extra shelf on the door and the bottom are left empty so you can fill them to custom your recquirement.
- The other compartments are clearly labelled to easen operating the kit and to allow for easy restock process.
. Eyewash for eye chemical spills.
. Nitrile gloves
. Antiseptic wipes for cleaning wound.
B. 10 person OSHA contractor plastic cased first aid kit.
- A firm plastic casing suitable for construction sites.
- 10 person supply included.
. First aid kit which contains burn cream for all types of burn.
. Knuckle fabric bandages for hands
. A pair of tweezers
. A trauma pad.
Both the metal cased for 150 people XL smart compliance Cabinet for First Aid without any medicine and the OSHA 10 person plastic cased contractor kid are the ultimate first aid kit for industrial workers.
Reasons why I recommend them are:
1. They have a high supply capacity of 150 workers and 10 persons respectively.
2. The plastic casing and metal casing are recommended for the harsh construction sites and industrial settings respectively.
3. The contents of the first aid kits e.g eyewash, burn cream and trauma pad are suitable for typical injuries in industry workmen and to contractors.
Cooperate office setting
Accidents and injuries can also occur inside offices. Office workers are therefore in need an office medical kit that suits to deal with typical office injuries.
Accident 1: Paper cuts
Paper cuts are common in the cooperate world. Although a minor injury, it might be a drag if left untreated.
wipe cut site with antiseptic wipe and apply minimal pressure to stop bleeding if any is present.
Apply a band aid to cover the wounds.
Accident 2: Insect bites
Bee or wasp stings can happen inside the office and cause considerable pain to the office workers. Other poisonous insects might also attack the cooperate world.
Solution: Apply wood ash for bee stings if available.
Recommendation: Use of sting relief wipes to relieve the stinging pain.
Accident 3: Heat related disorder
Heat strokes are caused by excessive heat rendering the body unable to maintain it's core temperature.
Solution: Move victim to a cooler environment after loosening clothing. Give cold water to drink slowly.
Recommendation: Using a cold pack and wet clothing apply all over the skin to cool down temperature.
Accident 4: Bruises
Bumping into office equipment can cause bruises which might be painful.
Solution: Apply cold pack on bruised area.
Recommendation: Use trauma pad to prevent excessive injury by blunt object forces.
Case study : Australia
Here are 4 interesting work place statistics that you need to know:-
1. Only about 13% employers comply with the national code of practice for first aid which requires work places to stock sufficient medical kits.
2. Over 65% employers are ignorant of their obligation under first aid code.
3. About 31% of Australian workers are confident in their first aid skills incase of emergency.
4. First aid training are offered by less than 50% employers.
B. First aid kit at home
They say East or West home is the best, well here's the shocker, home can also be a dangerous place. Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone.
It is therefore advisable to be prepared for any disaster even at the comfort of your home.
Disasters that can happen while in the house includes.
Accident 1: Hurricane disaster
Areas prone to hurricanes experience disaster when one strikes. They are forced out of their house to be on the go.
Solution: People in Hurricane hit areas are recommended to evacuate. First aid can be done to any casualties as required.
Recommendation: Use of emergency preparedness backpack.
A. One person emergency preparedness hurricane backpack
- Contains essential supplies for up to three days for a single victim.
- Crank powered radio, cellphone charger and a flashlight.
- Contains a multiple tool multitool.
- Hurricane specific supplies.
- Five year shelf life for food and water.
- Two compartmented backpack to easen locating supplies.
Essential contents includes:
. Emergency food bars
. 4 Oz emergency water packets
. 2.5 emergency water gallon
. A whistle
. Face dust protection mask.
. Water proof matches
. A personal first aid kit with basic content.
. Aspirin tablet.
Reasons why I recommend the emergency preparedness backpack are.
1. Contains a whistle to alert rescuers.
2. Have hurricane specific supplies like water proof matches which saves lives.
3. Has a duct tape to hold down plastic tarps.
Another first aid kit that comes in handy at home is the Home first aid zip kit.
B. A Home First aid Zip kit
Home First Aid zip kit medical box is perfect for typical scrapes, bruises and cuts that can be experienced at home.
The medical kit can be strategically placed in bathrooms and kitchens where accidents are prone to occur.
- Contains five types of bandages of different measurement.
- Compact bag with zip.
. Trauma pad
. Safety pins
. Butterfly wound closure
. Nitrile gloves
. BZK towelettes which are antiseptic.
. Fabric finger tip bandages.
C. American Red Cross 114 piece delux family first aid kit
- comes with a plastic casing which is water proof.
- Wall mountable and easy to carry.
- Contains enough supplies for a family of 4 at home or on the move.
. Chewable aspirin tablets
. Emergency blankets
. American red Cross emergency guide
. Latex framed CPR face shield with one way valve
. Antiseptic cleaning wipes
. Adhesive plastic bandages.
Reasons for recommendation.
1. Contains medication in form of chewable aspirin tablets.
2. Usable both at home and on the go by a family of four.
3. Highly mobile and can be carried from home.
4. Plastic casing which is water resistant and liquid proof.
C. First aid kit in Sports and Games
Sportsmen are the most prone to injuries in the field during Games. Injuries from sports can be very serious or mild depending on the degree of collision or forces causing injuries.
Accident 1: Sprains.
The most common Sprains occur on the ankle joints or wrist joints. Hyper eversion or inversion at the ankle joints causes painful sprains.
Solution: Use a bandage to tie up the ankle joints to secure it.
Recommendation: Use a cold pack spray or sprain sprays like deep heat.
Accident 2: Fractures
Fractures of the bones of the forelimb and hind limb are commonest because the limbs are the mainly used body parts in sports.
The most fractured bones includes the tibia , radius, ulnar or the humerus.
Fractures can be closed or open depending on piercing of the skin.
Green stick fractures are just simple tiny cracks in the bones.
Solution: Apply pressure to stop bleeding and secure with a bandage.
Recommendation: Use triangular bandages to make arm slings to stabilize fractures of the upper limb.
Accident 3: Blisters
Blisters occurs on the palm of the hand or soul of the feet because of friction experienced during sports. They are fluid filled swellings.
Solution: Wear gloves and socks on hands and feet respectively.
Recommendation: Use a moleskin blister prevention.
Accident 4: Spinal cord injuries
The spine is also frequently injured during sports. Spinal cord injuries are severe and should be treated seriously lest paralysis of the body occurs.
Solution: Don't move victim unless there is life threatening danger in the Immediate vicinity.
Recommendation: Call for professional help and ambulance immediately.
A. The Red Cross Sports first aid zip kit
The American Red Cross society recommends this kit.
- Contains one fabric knuckle bandage.
- Contains plastic bandages of different dimensions.
- Butterfly wound closure 3/8" times 1-13/16".
. Nitrile exams gloves
. Sting relief wipes
. Red Cross First Aid guide
. First acid tape
. A cold pack
. Moleskin blister prevention.
Reasons why I recommend this kit:
1. Contains moleskin blister prevention
2. Contains cold pack for Sprains.
3. The medical kit fits in a sports bag and is a solution to typical sport injuries in the field, gym or court.
D. First aid kit at School
School is another institution with many students who are at risk of getting injured.
Accident 1: when a student goes unconscious
Students can become unconscious at school due to known illnesses or other severe accidents like high falls.
The standard procedure for any unconscious patient either at school, home or at work is chain of survival.
Solution: Chain of survival which involves:
1. Early recognition and call for help to avoid cardiac arrest.
2. Timely CPR to buy time.
3. Early defibrillation to jump start the heart.
4. Post resuscitation at the hospital to restore health in quality.
Recommendation: I recommend the CPR first aid kit.
A. American Red Cross responder pack CPR/ AED emergency
- Has antimicrobial wipes (2)
- 2 BZK Antiseptic towelettes
- A biohazard bag.
. Disposable razor
. Pair of Scissors
. CPR faceshield
. Nitrile exam gloves
. Hand sanitizer.
Reasons why I recommend this kit.
1. Has a one way valve CPR faceshield to protect rescuer from having direct mouth to mouth contact with victim during administration of CPR breaths
E. Other factors to consider
Other factors also come to play when choosing your first aid kit. These factors may include traveling and other unexpected disasters which may force one to leave home.
a) First Aid on the road
Road accidents are very common and must be considered when choosing a first aid kit and it's contents.
1. The Trucker first aid kit
Very useful to truck drivers who travel long distances.
- Contains CPR faceshield
- Contains eye Care
. One way valve CPR faceshield.
. Fabric bandages
. First aid guide
. Eye wash.
b) Other unexpected disasters
Disasters of any form can strike at any time.
General preparation for the unknown is therefore not futile effort. Apart from natural disasters, human problems such as ageing, drug abuse excessively and alcoholism recquires first aid kits.
2. American Red Cross emergency preparedness 4 person, 3 day backpack
- A duffle bag with 3 well organized compartments. Supplies are easily reached and quickly located.
- Has an extra room to place your customized personal items according to your
- Shoulder strap keeps your hands free to do other things while carrying duffle bag.
. Hand warmer
. Dust face mask
. Wash cloth
. Aspirin and Ibuprofen tablets
. LED flashlights
. Emergency blanket
. Trauma pad
. Emergency food bars.
A Case study: United kingdom
Here is a case study of injury location in the United kingdom in percentages.
Home. - 41.4%
Roads - 19.5%
Work - 15.2%
Leisure - 17.1%
School/ - 4.8%
Other. - 2%
Other factors in the UK include problem of ageing, alcoholism and drug abuse which necessitates first aid and the appropriate medical kit to meet each and every need according to the different locations.
Note: This information is cited from First Aid for a safer future , updated global edition by Red Cross.
F. Recommendations to improve first aid kits
Medical kit and disaster preparedness kits are an invaluable asset to fast aiders. More effort should be placed into making them better and easier to use so that the ultimate first aid kit can be obtained during emergency response.
Some changes that can be made and additions to existing first aid kits includes:
1. Providing free educating to all about first aid kits to make them easier to use for everyone to make first aid process easier and faster.
2. Making learning first aid compulsory in schools and driving schools before obtaining drivers license to popularise use of first aid kits.
3. Making new design for medical kits for specific injuries to ensure no supplies goes missing during emergency response. The contents in a medical kit should be coherent with the purpose of the kit.
4. Building disaster management kits with stronger casing according to location used especially industrial medical kits and construction first aid kits.
5. Placing disaster management kits at strategic location in a building or a house Where they are easily reached during emergency.
6. Legislation of laws making it compulsory to have first aid kits at locations prone to accidents like work places.
7. Making mobile first aid kits that can easily be carried along making them always available.
8. Designing cheaper but effective medical kits to increase their availability.
9. Including simplified first aid manuals in disaster management Kits to Increase efficiency.
10. Making medical kits with longer shelf life contents e.g drugs to increase value and also including non perishable foodstuffs in kits.
G. References and Citations
1. First aid for a safer future, updated global edition by Red Cross society- PDF.
3. Centers for disease control and prevention," Traumatic occupational injuries ." NIOSH. www.cdc.gov/niosh/ injury.
4. American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED instructor's manual PDF.
5. Fire and safety Australia, www. fsaus.com.au.