A first aid kit is a collection of supplies and equipment for use in giving first aid, and can put together for the purpose (by an individual or organisation, for instance), or purchased complete. There is a wide variation in the contents of first aid kits based on the knowledge and experience of those putting it together, the differing first aid requirements of the area where it may be used, and variations in legislation or regulation in a given area.

The international standard for first aid kits is that they should be identified with the ISO graphical symbol for first aid (from ISO 7010) which is an equal white cross on a green background, although many kits do not comply with this standard, either because they are put together by an individual or they predate the standards.

Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

First aid treats the ABCs as the foundation of good treatment. For this reason, most modern commercial first aid kits (although not necessarily those assembled at home) will contain a suitable infection barrier for performing artificial respiration as part of cardiopulmonary, examples include:

§ Pocket mask

§ Face shield

Advanced first aid kits may also contain items such as:

§ Oropharyngeal airway

§ Nasopharyngeal airway

§ Bag valve mask

§ Manual aspirator or sunction unit

§ Sphygmomanometer(blood pressure cuff)

§ stethoscope

Personal protective equipment

The use of personal protective equipment or PPE will vary by kit, depending on its use and anticipated risk of infection. The adjuncts to artificial respiration are covered above, but other common infection control PPE includes:

§ gloves which are single use and disposable to prevent cross infection

§ goggles or other eye protection

§ surgical mask or N95 mask to reduce possibility of airborne infection transmission (sometimes placed on patient instead of caregivers. For this purpose the mask should not have an exhale valve)

§ apron

Workplace first aid kit

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all job sites and workplaces to make available first aid equipment for use by injured employees . While providing regulations for some industries such as logging in general the regulation lack specifics on the contents of the first aid kit. This is understandable, as the regulation covers every means of employment, and different jobs have different types of injuries and different first-aid requirements. However, in a non-mandatory section , the OSHA regulations do refer to ANSI/ISEA Specification Z308.1 as the basis for the suggested minimum contents of a first aid kit. Another source for modern first aid kit information is United States Forest Service Specification 6170-6 , which specifies the contents of several different-sized kits, intended to serve groups of differing size.

In general, the type of first aid facilities required in a workplace are determined by many factors, such as:

§ the laws and regulation of the state or territory in which it is located;

§ the type of industry concerned; for example, industries such as mining may have specific industry regulations detailing specialised instructions;

§ the type of hazards present in the workplace;

§ the number of employees in the workplace;

§ the number of different locations that the workplace is spread over;

§ the proximity to local services (doctors, hospital, ambulance).

Historic first aid kits

As the understanding of first aid and lifesaving measures has advanced, and the nature of public health risks has changed, the contents of first aid kits have changed to reflect prevailing understandings and conditions. For example, earlier US Federal specifications for first aid kits included incision/suction-type snakebite kits and mercurochrome antiseptic. As explained in the article on snakebite, this type of snakebite kit is no longer recommended. Mercurochrome is not approved by the US FDA due to concerns over mercury poisoning. Other examples include the CPR face shields and specific body-fluid barriers included in modern kits, to assist in CPR and to help prevent the spread of bloodborne pathogens such as HIV . Modern CPR not having been popularized until after 1960, and HIV not being recognized until 1983.


Medication can be a controversial addition to a first aid kit, especially if it is for use on members of the public. It is, however, common for personal or family first aid kits to contain certain medications. Dependent on scope of practice, the main types of medicine are life saving medications, which may be commonly found in first aid kits used by paid or assigned first aiders for members of the public or employees, painkillers, which are often found in personal kits, but may also be found in public provision and lastly symptomatic relief medicines, which are generally only found in personal kits.

Life saving

§ Aspirin primarily used for central medical chest pain as an anti-coagulant

§ Epinephrine autoinjector (brand name Epipen) - often included in kits for wilderness use and in places such as summer camps, to treat anaphylactic shock.

Pain killers

§ Paracetamol(also known as Acetaminophen) is one of the most common pain killing medication, as either tablet or syrup

§ Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen or other NSAIDs can be used as part of treating sprain and strains

§ Odeine which is both a painkiller and anti-diarrheal

Symptomatic relief

§ Anti diarrhea medication such as Loperamide - especially important in remote or third world locations where dehydration caused by diarrhea is a leading killer of children

§ Oral rehydration salts

§ Antihistamine, such as diphenydramine

§ Poison treatments

§ Absorption, such as activated charcoal

§ emetics to induce vomiting, such as syrup of ipecac although first aid manuals now advise against inducing vomiting.

§ Smelling salts(ammonium carbonate)

Topical medications

§ Antiseptic ointment, fluid, moist wipe or spray, including benzalkonium chloride,Noemycin,Polymyxin B , Sulfate or Bacitracin Zinc.

§ Povidone iodine is an antiseptic in the from of liquid, swabstick, or towelette

§ Aloe vera gel - used for a wide variety of skin problems, including burns, sunburns, itching, and dry skin; used as a substitute for triple-antibiotic gel to keep a wound moist and prevent bandages from sticking

§ Burn gel - a water-based gel that acts as a cooling agent and often includes a mild anesthetic such as lidocaine and, sometimes, an antiseptic such as tea tree oil

§ Anti-itch ointment

§ hydrocitisoone cream

§ antihiistamine cream containing diphenhydramine

§ Calamine lotion

§ Anti-fungal cream

§ Tincture of benzoine - often in the form of an individually sealed swabstick, protects the skin and aids the adhesion of butterfly strips or adhesive bandaged.


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