Merck Manual

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Basic First Aid Supplies


Amy H. Kaji

, MD, PhD, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, David Geffen School of Medicine

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2022 | Modified Sep 2022

The medicine chest or first-aid kit should be kept well stocked and should be checked every 3 to 6 months, replacing any used or expired items. The following basic supplies are useful to have on hand:

  • Activated charcoal (call the poison control center before using)

  • Adhesive tape

  • Antihistamine for allergic reactions

  • Antibiotic ointment (such as bacitracin or neomycin)

  • Antiseptic solution or towelettes (disinfecting wipes)

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen

  • Bandages in various sizes and shapes

  • Cold pack (instant) or ice bag

  • Compression (elastic) bandage for sprains and strains

  • Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs

  • Eyewash (sterile)

  • First-aid manual

  • Gauze pads in various sizes to stop bleeding and cover wounds

  • Gloves (latex or nitrile)

  • Hydrocortisone cream for stings and itchy, inflamed rashes

  • Nail clippers

  • Pen light or flashlight with extra batteries

  • Petroleum jelly

  • Plastic bags for the disposal of potentially contaminated material

  • Safety pins in different sizes

  • Scissors

  • Soap

  • Thermometer

  • Tweezers

  • Warm pack (instant)

The following can be given by lay (nonprofessional) rescuers and may be appropriate for some first aid kits:

Additionally, have the following readily available:

  • Phone numbers and contact information for your family doctor and/or pediatrician, emergency services, and regional poison control center (1-800-222-1222 in the United States)

  • List of drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter) that each family member takes

  • Medical history forms for each family member

Many people consider taking a first-aid course through the American Red Cross or some other agency. See the American Red Cross web site for more information. People may also need to prepare children for medical emergencies in age-appropriate ways and know when to call 911 or the local emergency service.

More Information

The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of the resources.

  • American Association of Poison Control Centers: Represents the US-based poison centers that provide free, confidential services (24/7) through the Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222).

  • American Red Cross: Provides training opportunities and certification programs that help people to prepare for and prevent emergencies as well as respond to them when they do occur.

  • Stop the An American College of Surgeons program that has trained over 1.9 million people worldwide to stop bleeding in the severely injured.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
AK-Tracin, Baciguent, BaciiM, Baci-Rx, Ocu-Tracin
7T Gummy ES, Acephen, Aceta, Actamin, Adult Pain Relief, Anacin Aspirin Free, Aphen, Apra, Children's Acetaminophen, Children's Pain & Fever , Children's Pain Relief, Comtrex Sore Throat Relief, ED-APAP, ElixSure Fever/Pain, Feverall, Genapap, Genebs, Goody's Back & Body Pain, Infantaire, Infants' Acetaminophen, LIQUID PAIN RELIEF, Little Fevers, Little Remedies Infant Fever + Pain Reliever, Mapap, Mapap Arthritis Pain, Mapap Infants, Mapap Junior, M-PAP, Nortemp, Ofirmev, Pain & Fever , Pain and Fever , PAIN RELIEF , PAIN RELIEF Extra Strength, Panadol, PediaCare Children's Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever, PediaCare Children's Smooth Metls Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever, PediaCare Infant's Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever, Pediaphen, PHARBETOL, Plus PHARMA, Q-Pap, Q-Pap Extra Strength, Silapap, Triaminic Fever Reducer and Pain Reliever, Triaminic Infant Fever Reducer and Pain Reliever, Tylenol, Tylenol 8 Hour, Tylenol 8 Hour Arthritis Pain, Tylenol 8 Hour Muscle Aches & Pain, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Children's, Tylenol Children's Pain+Fever, Tylenol CrushableTablet, Tylenol Extra Strength, Tylenol Infants', Tylenol Infants Pain + Fever, Tylenol Junior Strength, Tylenol Pain + Fever, Tylenol Regular Strength, Tylenol Sore Throat, XS No Aspirin, XS Pain Reliever
Advil, Advil Children's, Advil Children's Fever, Advil Infants', Advil Junior Strength, Advil Migraine, Caldolor, Children's Ibuprofen, ElixSure IB, Genpril , Ibren , IBU, Midol, Midol Cramps and Body Aches, Motrin, Motrin Children's, Motrin IB, Motrin Infants', Motrin Junior Strength, Motrin Migraine Pain, PediaCare Children's Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer IB, PediaCare Infants' Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer IB, Samson-8
A-Hydrocort, Ala-Cort, Ala-Scalp, Alkindi, Anucort-HC, Anumed-HC, Anusol HC, Aquaphor Children's Itch Relief, Aquaphor Itch Relief, Balneol for Her, Caldecort , Cetacort, Colocort , Cortaid, Cortaid Advanced, Cortaid Intensive Therapy, Cortaid Sensitive Skin, CortAlo, Cortef, Cortenema, Corticaine, Corticool, Cortifoam, Cortizone-10, Cortizone-10 Cooling Relief, Cortizone-10 External Itch Relief, Cortizone-10 Intensive Healing, Cortizone-10 Plus, Cortizone-10 Quick Shot, Cortizone-5 , Dermarest Dricort, Dermarest Eczema, Dermarest Itch Relief, Encort, First - Hydrocortisone, Gly-Cort , GRx HiCort, Hemmorex-HC, Hemorrhoidal-HC, Hemril , Hycort, Hydro Skin, Hydrocortisone in Absorbase, Hydrocortone, Hydroskin , Hydroxym, Hytone, Instacort, Lacticare HC, Locoid, Locoid Lipocream, MiCort-HC , Monistat Complete Care Instant Itch Relief Cream, Neosporin Eczema, NuCort , Nutracort, NuZon, Pandel, Penecort, Preparation H Hydrocortisone, Proctocort, Proctocream-HC, Procto-Kit, Procto-Med HC , Procto-Pak, Proctosert HC , Proctosol-HC, Proctozone-HC, Rectacort HC, Rectasol-HC, Rederm, Sarnol-HC, Scalacort, Scalpicin Anti-Itch, Solu-Cortef, Texacort, Tucks HC, Vagisil Anti-Itch, Walgreens Intensive Healing, Westcort
Adrenaclick, Adrenalin, Auvi-Q, Epifrin, EpiPen, Epipen Jr , Primatene Mist, SYMJEPI, Twinject
EVZIO, Kloxxado, Narcan, ZIMHI
Dazidox , Endocodone , ETH-Oxydose, Oxaydo, OXECTA, OxyContin, Oxydose , OxyFast, OxyIR, Percolone, Roxicodone, Roxybond, XTAMPZA
ABSTRAL, Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, IONSYS, Lazanda, Onsolis, Sublimaze, SUBSYS
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