Summer is approaching, and with kids having no school and lots of free time, the result can be trips to After Hours (Edwardsville, O’Fallon, MO or south St. Louis County) for cuts, ticks, poison ivy, infected bug bites, sunburns, eye injuries, broken bones, and all kinds of summer fun gone wrong. Luckily, you can easily treat or prevent much of the summer pain by being prepared.
To be better prepared, you need a “Dr. Mom” first-aid kit and know how to use it. Although pre-made, store-bought first-aid kits are a good start, these kits typically lack many items you could need to treat your family this summer. To help you get ready, here are some first-aid items you’ll want to add to your shopping list.
Keep your first aid kit in your car. You’ll never have to remember to pack it. If you have more than one family car, consider making a first-aid kit for each car.
- Pre-made First Aid Kit: It’s the cheapest and easiest to start by buying a pre-made kit because otherwise, it is difficult to find small packages of all the different kinds of gauze, tape, and antibiotic ointment you will need. Find a large kit with a sturdy container with extra space to hold all the things you will add to it. Or get a small duffle bag or backpack to hold your first aid kit, and start by putting the pre-made kit in the bag. Be sure the pre-made kit includes Band-Aids, gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, and anti-itch or steroid ointment.
- Water Bottle for Cleaning out Wounds: The first thing you’ll need to do with a crying kid is clean out their wound. And the nearest water source is probably too far to walk. You can use your water bottle to treat dehydration, too.
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine): Benadryl is probably the most important over-the-counter medication to have in your first aid kit—it’s a first-line treatment for insect bites, hives, and other allergic reactions that can be deadly. Some pre-made kits will include Benadryl tablets, but if you have young children, be sure to include a bottle of liquid, Children’s Benadryl or the generic equivalent. Benadryl is also a great treatment for an attack of seasonal allergies.
- Epi-pen: If you have a family member with a history of severe allergic reactions, ask your physician for a prescription Epi-pen. You may want to keep it in the outside pocket of your first aid kit for quick, easy access.
- Numbing Spray: Wound numbing spray can be purchased over the counter at any pharmacy and can save the day when a child is burned, sunburned, or has a painful cut or scrape.
- Prescription Medication: Ask your physician for an extra prescription for any medication you frequently use, especially asthma and allergy medications. Keep the extra supply in your car’s first-aid kit. You’ll be grateful when you can stay at your child’s sporting event rather than head home for an inhaler or other medication.
- Ibuprofen and Tylenol: Most pre-made kits include these standard pain medications, but you will want to add the liquid kind for children.
- Nausea Medication: There’s an easy fix for vomiting, car-sick kids—nausea medication. Don’t leave home without it. You’ll kick yourself for not having it while you clean the vomit out of your car.
- Sunblock: The worst sunburns occur when you least expect it—at sports events or while doing yard work. Have some 30+ sunblock ready to cover those little spots on the ears and neck that hats don’t cover. Include some SPF lip balm too.
- Bug Spray: The best protection comes from a repellant that contains 30% DEET. Insect bites are annoying at best, but they get scratched and infected at worst.
- Afrin Nasal Spray for Nose Bleeds: Afrin is a quick fix for a nosebleed. This medication causes the capillaries in the nose to constrict, thereby limiting the blood flow to the nasal mucosa and stopping the bleeding.
- Hydrocortisone Ointment: This inexpensive over-the-counter medication will treat almost anything that itches—insect bites, poison ivy, etc. If you stop the itch, the kids won’t scratch it, and you reduce the risk of secondary infection.
- Flashlight/headlamp: If you don’t have a reliable light on your cell phone, include an LED flashlight or headlamp. A flashlight is not just for night-time injuries—you’ll need a bright light to get a good look at splinters or look in kids’ mouths, ears, etc.
- Baby Wipes: Even if your kids are out of diapers, a pack of baby wipes is infinitely useful in the car, especially for keeping hands clean and wiping noses.
- Lip Balm: Lip balm can soothe cold sores, lip injuries, and sunburned lips in addition to regular chapped lips. You’ll be glad you have it when your child complains about their chapped lips for the sixth time in ten minutes while you are on a family outing.
- Clean Towel: A nice clean towel is perfect for setting-up your first-aid station while you dress a wound or remove a splinter. It’s also helpful in containing bleeding on bigger injuries. Consider a highly absorbent microfiber towel that can be stuffed into a small space.
- Feminine Hygiene Supplies: Besides their obvious uses, tampons, and maxi pads are very helpful for wound management and are an essential part of any first aid kit. Did you know that the modern tampon was invented in the 1800s for the management of bullet wounds? An OB-style tampon can very effectively treat a persistent nosebleed. The smallest OB tampons fit nicely in the nose. Bleeding wounds can be easily controlled with a maxi pad held in place with an ace wrap.
- Pre-made Finger Splint: Not sure if that finger is broken or not? Just put it in a pre-made finger splint until you get your child to the doctor. You can buy pre-made finger splints at any pharmacy.
- Alcohol Wipes: These are great for sterilizing first-aid kit instruments, such as tweezers and scissors. They are also useful for cleaning skin before trying to remove splinters.
- Compression Bandages: Although first-line treatment for sprains and strains, a compression bandage is also helpful in holding bandages in place on bigger wounds and holding splints on fractures.
- Small Scissors: These can be used for cutting dressings to the right size, cutting medical tape, opening packages, trimming fingernails and hangnails, etc.
- Sports Drink Bottle: This is very useful for hypoglycemia, dehydration, etc.
- Reclosable Plastic Bags: These bags are essential for keeping track of teeth that fall out or are knocked out. Did you pull a tick off your child? Stick it in the zip lock bag for later identification. Certain kinds of ticks are more likely to carry pathogens that cause Lyme disease and other illnesses.
- Tweezers and a Small Magnifying Glass: These can be used to remove a splinter, but occasionally they are necessary to remove bugs from ears, fishing hooks from fingers, etc. Of note, tweezers are NOT the best way to remove a tick—tweezers often cause you to remove the tick body and leave the head in the skin. The best way to remove a small deer tick is to scrape it off with a credit card. You can clean the credit card first with your alcohol wipes. Here’s more on how to remove a tick.
- KidCare App – This free St. Louis Children’s app will help you navigate decisions on what level of medical care (if any) is needed and how to treat your child at home when it’s safe to do so. You can select from more than 100 pediatric topics and search from an alphabetical list or by body area.