Dr. Willie Ong (Internist and Cardiologist)
I know what you’re thinking. Why do I have to bother with making a first-aid kit? There are actually many reasons to do so. First, having a well-equipped first-aid kit is immediately reassuring to the patient or victim. Second, learning about first-aid can give you confidence and a sense of fulfillment.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to assemble a first-aid kit and also the basic principles of first-aid.
Make Your First-Aid Kit:
There are readily available first-aid kits but they are notoriously lacking. To assemble your own kit, get a large lunch box that is light, clean and durable. Then obtain the following items and equipments from a drugstore.
- Sterile dressings and gauze pads. These are applied directly to larger and open wounds. For acute bleeding, you will need several gauze pads and you need to press firmly on the bleeding area for several minutes.
- Bandages (not necessarily sterile) for securing dressings and stopping bleeding. There are various sizes but buy the medium sized one. However, take note that minor cuts and wounds are better left uncovered.
- Safety pins, to secure the bandages.
- 70% rubbing alcohol to disinfect minor wounds and to clean your hands.
- Povidone-iodine as a potent antiseptic. Povidone-iodine is more effective than alcohol, and is less painful.
- Cotton buds and cotton balls.
- Band-aids, for minor cuts.
- A pair of scissors with rounded edges. The rounded edge will ensure the safe cutting of bandages and avoid accidentally injuring the skin.
- Adhesive tape, preferably one that is hypoallergenic.
- Ice bag or an instant-acting chemical cold pack. Use these for minor bruises, insect bites, swelling, sprains, and for reducing fever.
- Soap and water to clean superficial wounds once bleeding has stopped.
- Thermometer to check the temperature.
- Tweezers. These are very useful for removing splinters of wood or glass.
- A strong penlight or flashlight to check on wounds, mouth, etc.
- Disposable gloves (2 pieces). For personal protection, wear these gloves before handling cases of bleeding and open wounds.
- Face masks (2 pieces) to protect your face from splatters and reduce the risk of inhaling infections. The mask can also be placed on the patient instead of the health provider.
- List of emergency phone numbers, such as your local doctor, nearest hospital, ambulance services, and others.
- The following topical medications are often useful: (1) Burn gel or ointment, (2) anti-itch ointment, and (3) Calamine lotion.
Your Personal Travel Kit:
If you have some background in healthcare, you may also want to stock up on some oral medicines, which can be used as first-aid or as your travel kit. These are the commonly used drugs.
- Paracetamol 500 mg (Bring 8 tablets): For fever, take Paracetamol 500 mg one tablet every four hours. Paracetamol can also be given for minor aches and pains.
- Mefenamic Acid 500 mg (4 capsules): For moderate to severe pain, consider taking Mefenamic Acid 500 mg one capsule three times a day. Take the capsule with food. Avoid long-term use of pain-relievers.
- Amoxicillin 500 mg (15 capsules): For various infections, consider Amoxicillin 500 mg one capsule three times a day, taken for five to seven days. Ask the patient if he or she has a drug allergy. Antibiotics are usually needed for the following situations: inflamed tonsils, cough with yellow phlegm, urinary tract infection (UTI), large skin wounds, boils, and gum infection. Consult your doctor about it.
- Loperamide (3 tablets): For diarrhea, consider taking Loperamide capsule, one or two capsules initially. Eat a banana and drink lots of fluids, too.
- Loratadine 10 mg (2 tablets): For allergies, take Loratadine 10 mg one tablet daily, preferably at night.
- Bromazepam 1.5 mg (2 tablets): This drug requires a special doctor prescription. For anxiety or insomnia, consider taking Bromazepam (brand name Lexotan) 1.5 mg, taken half a tablet as needed.
Some added tips for travelers: (1) Bring enough supply of your maintenance medicines, (2) bring some emergency medications like the ones listed above, and (3) always bring your medical records. You never know when you might need it.
First-Aid Common Sense:
Now that you have your own first-aid kit and travel kit, what else do you need? As our teacher used to tell us, “It’s the organ between your ears.” We need some basic knowledge on how to deal with emergency situations.
- Be calm and think of a rationale plan of action. Think calmly, because you might make matters worse if you act impulsively.
- First, decide if you need to call for help. It’s always better to err on the safe side and call for medical help, rather than delaying your call for assistance.
- Look around the accident area to look for any hazards or danger to others. Do not put yourself in danger, too.
- Be aware of your limitations. Do not attempt any treatment (such as mouth to mouth resuscitation) if you have no idea what to do.
- Give medical aid if you feel you can. However, do nothing if you’re not sure.
- It’s a good idea to give comfort to the patient or victim. Talk and reassure the victim until help arrives.
- Once a better qualified person arrives, defer the management of the situation to them. Do not let your pride get in the way.
- After the problem resolves, talk to a friend or relative about the incident so that you can release your stress and worries about the event. Emergencies are really like that. It’s not anybody’s fault, and we just have to do what we can with the situation at hand. Finally, pray and thank God that the situation has been resolved. Good luck!