First Aid Kit

What is First Aid Kit?

First aid kit is the kit enabling primary treatment to be administered to a person suffering from an injury or illness, usually in a fast response setting to sustain life, prevent deterioration, or improve healing before any required medical treatment can be given.

First aid kit as a professional enterprise dates back to the late 1800s, specifically around 1894 when two Scottish medical professionals worked to create fast response for disasters. St. John’s Ambulance is the earliest iteration of today’s organised, first-response medical profession, which began to spread throughout the world at pace in response to their successes, in the early 1900s, proliferating the use of first aid kit worldwide.

Types of First Aid Kit

Today there are many different kinds of first aid kit on the market that you can buy without any special training or licensing being required. Such is the prevalence of first aid training in the workplace and in the voluntary sector that it is easy to get trained on how to use first aid kit safely and effectively to treat many issues, in any case.

The different types of first aid kit can include:

First Aid Box

A first aid box is normally a rigid container filled with a collection of first aid supplies, often bandages, plasters, antiseptic wipes, eye drops.

They can be HSE Certified or Compliant first aid boxes which are those that the Health and Safety Executive deems adequate or necessary for the treatment of workplace injuries in a common setting for a number of employees/individuals.

Fully stocked first aid boxes to comply with regulations for up to 10 people and ideal for Offices, Warehouses and Shops tend to include something like: 20x Assorted Washproof Plasters, 2x Sterile Eyepads with bandages, 4x Non-woven triangular bandages, 6x Safety pins, 6x Medium 12cm x 12cm sterile dressings, 2x Large 18cm x 18cm sterile dressings, 10x Alcohol-free hygienic cleansing wipes, 1x Pair of Powder-free Vinyl gloves, 1x First Aid administration guidance leaflet.

Dog First Aid Kit

Dog first aid kit or pet first aid kits are those that pet owners would buy to have on hand in the event of an injury to their beloved animal(s). The first aid kit for pets offer peace of mind if your pet suffers a cut, bruise or strain. You are fully prepared to treat them and get them to safety. Ideal for pet emergencies.

Dog first aid kit tends to include a general selection of items that can treat typical ailments or injuries sustained by pets outdoors. A typical dog first aid kit might look something like this:

4 cleansing wipes, 1 conforming bandage 5 cm x 4 m, 2 eye wash pods 20 ml, 1 foil blanket (child), 1 forceps, 5 gauze swabs, 5 cm x 5 cm, 2 gloves (pair), 1 microporous tape 1.25 x 5 m, 1 no.9 large dressing, 1 no.8 medium dressing, 2 plastic bags and 1 scissors.

Medical Kit

Medical kits are more advanced versions of first aid kits with a lot more components to treat a broader range of illnesses, injuries or conditions in situations where medical treatment isn’t possible for a while.

A good budget medical kit might include this sort of range of ingredients: Waterproof plasters, adhesive dressings, instant ice pack, dressing pad, sterile eye pad dressing, swabs, eyewash eye-pod, wound closure strips, foil blanket, mouth to mouth shield, blister plasters, large adhesive dressings.

First Aid Bag

First aid bag is a catch-all term for any portable medical kit that comes in bag form, so there are lots of different types and even just the bag on its own. If it’s a first aid bag you’re looking for, to store existing kit then there are plenty of options that you can pick up for a small investment that will give you anything from a grab bag pouch style bag to a haversack style over the shoulder bag with a more rectangular shape that holds a lot more medical kit.

There are pre-filled first aid bags that come as full portable medical kits too and these range in size and price depending on the amount of kit that’s in them, so you can fins similar styles to the empty bags but filled instead and these range in price and size accordingly.

Specialist medical and first aid kits

There are many different kinds of specialist medical and first aid kits designed to fulfil roles in various settings as well, including home first aid kit, travel first aid kit, first aid tin, car first aid kit, football first aid kits, small first aid kit, sports first aid kits, first aid kit box, children’s first aid kit, hiking first aid kit, burns first aid kit, workplace first aid kit, first aid cabinets, first aid equipment, burns kit, mini first aid kit, trauma kits, eye wash kit and basic first aid kit.

All of these have some variety in terms of ingredients ranging from a few items to an almost mobile ambulance level of medical kit that will treat all kinds of injuries. First aid kit can also be bought as individual components and made into kits for specialist use.

About First Aid Kits

They play an important role in any workplace, home or vehicle and many conform to medical, professional standards such as HSE, British Standard and so on. By conforming to standards they are easily identified as having what you need in a given setting and that they are produced by reputable sources that can be relied on to perform in their appropriate setting.

Kit Maintenance

Certain elements of your kit can expire, including gloves, plasters, wipes, solutions and bandages. Expiry dates are normally printed on the product label. It’s important to check for expiry dates on all products within your first aid kit and replace any that are past their expiry date as they can be unsafe or ineffective. It’s also important to replace items once used so that your kit is kept up to date and within any regulations for health and safety in your workplace.

Building your own kit

If you’re building your own first aid kit from scratch, there are basic items that you will need to include to cover general first aid situations at home, workplace or vehicle(s). In professional scenarios you should be guided by professional or legislative guidance from bodies like HSE or an equivalent, who have oversight on workplace safety.

Even if you’re not using them in a workplace, the rule of thumb is surely to be as comprehensive as possible to enable your medical needs to be met in the event of an illness or injury.

First Aid Basics

The basic materials or ingredients you will need for a basic kit include:

Sterile Dressings

You want wound dressings such as sterile pads, sterile wound dressing, sterile eye pads, fabric and waterproof plasters.

Adhesive dressings

Fabric or waterproof plastic dressings that are self adhesive and can be applied to small grazes and cuts. These come in all shapes and sizes including clear plasters, gel blister plasters, coloured plasters.


Bandages are used to secure dressings, limit swelling, keep pressure on wounds and support injured joints. Types of bandage can include roller bandages (conforming, open-weave, support and self-adhesive types available), triangular – bandages made of cloth that can be fashioned into a sling or wrapped around large wounds and burns, tubular bandages.

Protective items

Protective items such as gloves (disposable) are always advisable and there are latex-free options that are sterile and suitable for most situations.

Other items

Foil or aluminium blankets for retaining body heat in emergency, pins and clips to fasten loose bandages, scissors to cut bandages to size or cut clothing to get to an injury, adhesive tape to hold dressings together, gauze pads or swabs to clean and pad, cleansing wipes to clean wounds and areas around them.

Of course, these are not the only things you might need from a kit but they are the basics and will certainly help. There are more resources available for understanding medical first aid at lots of different websites but we recommend St. John’s Ambulance as they are the most reputable source, being the world’s longest serving first aid organisation.

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