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Every household should have a first aid kit that has enough supplies to handle everyday needs and to see you through emergencies. Donít bother with the ready made kits except for the cars or the office. There just isnít enough of anything in them for a household. The list at the end of the chapter is my recommendation for first aid and minor medical care for a family. You will want to add anything special that your family needs.
Many of the things on the list are for treating injuries. Obviously, the bandage material is for covering wounds. The sanitary pads make good bandages in addition to their obvious use. The elastic wraps are for sprains and to put pressure on wounds that are bleeding. The bandanas can be used as slings or for tying on splints. The safety pins are to fasten bandages and slings. The scissors in a first aid kit should be the heavy kind that can cut off damaged clothing as well as cut the bandages. Tweezers are for getting out splinters and removing debris from cuts.
Soap and water is the best thing for cleaning a wound or just washing your hands. Baby wipes are good for cleaning wounds and for washing hands and faces when water is not available. Alcohol gel can be used to sanitize your hands but it burns too much to use on a wound.
Antibiotic ointment can be used on small cuts, burns and scrapes. Calamine and Caladryl are good for insect bites and poison ivy. The aloe is for sunburn, heat rash and irritated or dry skin.
Soothing eye drops are helpful when you have just gotten something out of your eye. Use the eyewash to get chemicals or dust out of your eyes. The eyewash should be in a squirt bottle with a cup on top designed fit on an eye. If you open your eye drops or eyewash, replace them. The stored bottle should be unopened so it stays clean. Get eye patches that are the thick gauze kind for patching an injured eye, not the thin kind for lazy eye.
You want to have ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve) or aspirin in your kit. These are the anti-inflammatory painkillers. They are better for sprains and burns than acetaminophen (Tylenol) since they help promote healing as well as kill pain. Also, sunburns do not get as bad if you take ibuprofen or naproxen as soon as you get burned. Aspirin is not as good as the others because it thins your blood and can increase bleeding. Acetaminophen can be taken with any of the others to give more pain relief or to treat high fever, but it is not as good for most injuries because it doesnít help the healing.
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is on the list because it is truly a miracle drug. It is the original antihistamine. It is good for bug bites and itching and allergic reactions of all kinds. It is a good cold medicine because it dries out your head without making you stuffy and it is very good at stopping cough. It also works to treat nausea and vomiting. And, since it makes most people sleepy, you can use it as a sleeping pill. If you have the liquid, you can rub it on poison ivy or sunburn to relieve itching and pain. Caladryl is Calamine lotion with Benadryl in it. As I said, it is truly a miracle drug.
It is useful to have some type of medicine for mild diarrhea. If the diarrhea is severe, you need to seek medical attention. Dehydration can kill very quickly, particularly the elderly and young children. However, a little bit of diarrhea is common and can be handled at home. Drink lots of pure water and take some diarrhea medicine. Do not take antibiotics for diarrhea unless a doctor has recommended them. They can actually make things worse.
Why have vodka in a first aid kit? Alcohol is actually good as a sedative and as a painkiller. It relaxes smooth muscle, the kind of muscle in your internal organs. A modest amount of alcohol is useful in menstrual and abdominal cramps and kidney stones. It is not useful as a sleeping pill because it gives poor sleep that lasts only about half the night. The dose of 80 proof liquor is 1 teaspoonful per 10 pounds of body weight up to a maximum of 1Ĺ ounces. Remember, the idea is to get some pain relief not to get drunk.
Donít try to have your first aid supplies in special box. Set aside a drawer in the bathroom or kitchen for first aid supplies. Keep full sized packages of everything you need. If you are evacuating, dump the drawer into a plastic bag and take it with you.