7 Vital Items to Have in a First Aid Kit

In an age of high alert where everyday scenarios can turn dangerous quickly, it’s wise to arm yourself for the unforeseen. What better resource than The American Red Cross for a go-to guide on all things first aid. Their comprehensive list includes 20 essential items on their website, but when time, space or money are at a premium, a handful of vital items are really all you need.
Breathing Barrier
According to the US National Library of Medicine, an adult or child over nine may suffer brain damage only four minutes after he stops breathing. Death can occur after 4-6 minutes. Carrying a breathing barrier in your first aid kit means that you can administer breathing safely to a victim, while protecting yourself from airborne germs.
Breathing barriers serve as a safety net for CPR, but in the event of bleeding, vomiting, or other bodily functions that involve fluids, gloves are essential to the safety of the person administering first aid. As is the case with most emergency situations, practicing safety precautions will serve both victim and responder as well as any additional victims requiring care.

Cold Compress
In the event of a soft tissue injury, swelling causes pain and can also mask more serious conditions. Having a cold compress in your kit grants you easy access to the healing powers of ice, and will slow or stop the swelling process for pain relief and diagnostic purposes when medical personnel becomes involved.
Sterile Gauze
If your preliminary reaction upon consideration of the first aid kit was that of cuts and bruises, you are not alone. The notion of administering first aid conjures up images of bleeding, bruising, and bites. In the event of a severe lacerations or puncture wounds, sterile gauze serves not only to stop the bleeding through compression, but also allows for a sterile covering for the wound, reducing the risk of infection.
Severe allergies are an acute risk to the victim. Long-term sufferers may carry an Epinephrine pen(Epi-pen), but if it’s not readily available, administering antihistamines can serve to prevent anaphylactic shock.
Space Blanket
On the subject of shock, it’s fundamental in first aid to watch your victims carefully for obvious signs of the condition, including blue skin or lips and shivering. While a space blanket doesn’t seem an obvious choice, bear in mind that when the threat of shock or hypothermia looms, the space blanket is designed to warm the victim quickly, which is imperative to survival.

Chewable Aspirin
Many public facilities now offer defibrillators, armed with a robotic voice to take the user step-by-step through the process, but these life-saving devices are not always within reach. Aspirin is a blood-thinner and when a victim is suffering a heart attack, a simple chewable aspirin can prevent blood clots from getting larger, offering the victim a greater chance at survival.

In an ideal scenario, every responder has a well-stocked bag, presence of mind, and a host of knowledge about the process of first aid and CPR. Realistically, having a simple bag or box filled with just a few essentials can truly mean the difference between a victim’s life or death.