First aid kits can be vital in providing you with instant medical assistance, providing it is properly equipped and regularly maintained. Whether you’re an explorer preparing for an adventure, or a parent on holiday – knowing what to keep in your first aid kit is an important life skill and a large part of an effective self-care process. To help, we’ve put together a list of what you need and advice on how and when to use them.


1. Plasters – make sure you’ve got a number of these in various shapes and sizes to cover both large and small cuts.

2. Bandages – we recommend keeping two types of bandage in your first aid kit:

  • Triangular bandages are the right shape and size to turn into a sling if you encounter an arm, wrist or hand injury.
  • Crepe rolled banadages are used for offering light support to minor strains and sprains and are also used as a compression aid.

3. Dressings – several different types of dressing are needed including:

  • Different size sterile gauze dressings; used for cleaning, drying and dressing wounds and burns.
  • Eye dressings are used for small eye wounds or foreign bodies which have entered the eye, such as dirt or grit, which are not embedded.

4. Eye wash – in the event foreign bodies do enter the eye, eye wash is a safe and clean liquid which helps flush out the eye.

5. Eye bath – if something entering the eye causes particular pain, you can bathe the eye using an eye bath to bring relief.

6. Instruments for dealing with wounds including tweezers for extracting small particles from the skin, such as splinters and thorns; safety pins, for pinning bandages and slings; scissors for cutting dressings and bandages and sticky tape for securing bandages.

7. Disposable gloves and antiseptic cleansing wipes for cleaning and treating wounds hygienically, reducing the risk of further infection.

8. Distilled water – To ensure the water you use for treating wounds is clean, it’s best to carry it as part of your first aid kit.

9. Thermometer – to check body temperature.

10. Treatment creams and ointments – this includes skin rash cream including hydrocortisone or calendula, sting cream to relieve nettle stings or insect bites and antiseptic cream such as Savlon or Sudocreme to soothe and reduce the risk of further infection.

11. Painkillers – paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen are common choices. Be sure to read the dosage instructions.

12. Antihistamine tablets – to be taken in the event of an allergic reaction.

13. Cough medicine


Finally, it’s really important to remember to check your first aid kit regularly to ensure there is nothing missing, there is enough of everything and all medicines are in date. Your first aid kit should be locked to prevent children from accessing it and kept in a cool place. If you are in any doubt at all, contact your local pharmacist who will be able to advise.