What to Pack in Your Family First Aid Kit
You can always spot the parent in a group. Just look for the big shoulder bag containing everything from wipes to a change of clothes and the safety blanket. No matter what you stock in your “family care” bag, no bag is complete without a family first aid kit. So, what are some essential items for your kit?
Start with basic first aid supplies, such as:
- Band-Aids of different shapes and sizes
- Ace band aid
- Instant ice pack
- Sterile gauze pads
- Medical tape
- Makeup sponges
- Sewing needle to remove splinters
- Matches or fire source used to sterilize the needle before using.
Then consider packing some extras (including these natural first-aid remedies), based on the age and common first aid issues you might face with your child. Common issues that arise with active children include:
Bumps and Bruises
If your child sustains any blunt trauma, homeopathic Arnica montana 30C is a life saver. My son made a head dive into the sharp corner edge of a desk when he was a toddler and sustained a large welt on his forehead. One dose of arnica taken under the tongue eased the pain and within two days the welt looked like an old bruise. If your child is too young to put the remedy under their tongue, take a pellet and stick it outside their teeth and between the cheek.
In addition, a wonderful herbal topical for bruises is Saint John’s wort oil that can be purchased at an herb store.
A word of caution: If your child falls from a high place, loses consciousness, is acting different after the fall or you have a concern, follow up with your primary provider to make sure there are not more severe issues present.
Cuts and scrapes
Whenever there is superficial cut or a scrape, it is important to clean the wound and make sure there is no dirt in it. I find the best way to approach this is to use tepid or “body temperature” water to clean the wound which tends to feel a little less painful than cold water. Using a makeup sponge to gentle clear out any stubborn dirt debris that is not clearing with running water alone, helps to clear potential sources of infection.
Make sure you have a healing salve in your first aid kit. A great healing salve contains calendula and an anti-microbial such as goldenseal or plantain.
If you are out hiking and sustain a scrape, one solution is to find a leaf of plantain. This is not to be confused with the banana like fruit. It is a leaf that grows low to the ground and is considered a weed. The Latin name for this plant is Plantago major. This hardy little plant that grows all over. It has antibacterial properties and is great for skin rashes, bites and scrapes.
Note: Wild goldenseal has been on the endangered list. So, a good substitute for it is Oregon grape. Plantain is part of the Liliaceae family and can be identified by the long parallel veins on its leaves. This family can be toxic, so make sure you can recognize and know the plant before grabbing just any leaf.
Some tips on cuts and scrapes…
1. If a cut or scrape occurs on the head, it can bleed a lot. Knowing this, apply firm pressure until it slows before you bandage. Follow up with your primary care physician if you have concerns or the scape was a result of a fall.
2. For any deep wound, seek medical attention.
Sprain or strain
It is sometimes difficult to differentiate a strain from a sprain from a fracture. The best approach, if the child suffers a sprain/strain/fracture is to apply a topical salve such as arnica cream and wrap the injured area with an ace bandage to keep the limb supported. If you are wrapping with an ACE bandage, make sure there is still blood flow to the toes. If the toes start to turn purple, the bandage is on too tight and needs to be loosened. Of course, other interventions to remember are rest, ice, compression and elevation of the injured area. You can also give your child an oral dose to Arnica montana 30C to help with the bruising. Follow up with your primary care provider for evaluation and imaging to verify the type of injury.
Stings and bites
Homeopathic Apis 30C, taken orally, is great to have on hand for stings. My husband was out in the forest and was stung by a wasp on his hand. It hurt! He was given a dose of Apis 30C and within minutes the swelling and pain decreased. Another good remedy to have in your first aid kit is Ledum 30C. How do you know when to use which? Apis is good for stings that leave warm to the touch, reddish raised wounds. Ledum, on the other hand, typically is for bites or stings that do not feel warm to the touch.
Remember Plantain, also a great remedy for Mosquito bites. Mash it up and apply it to the bite then cover the bite and plantain with a band aid. Leave the plantain poultice in place. When the soothing effect starts to wear off, replace the old with a fresh leaf.
A word of caution: If your child begins to have difficulty breathing, or if you know your child has an allergy to stings, you must seek immediate medical attention.
If you know your child has an allergy, it is important to carry around an EpiPen and Benadryl. Ask your medical provider for instructions on how to use these items, if needed.
Even though you will still have to use a needle and tweezers to get it out, applying a warm black tea bag on a splinter can help increase the blood flow to the area and assist to push out the splinter from under the skin. Remember to sterilize the tip of the needle before using it. Hold the tip of the needle in a flame source until it glows red. Remove it and allow it to cool before using it on your child. If you feel uneasy about doing this for your child, ask your primary care physician for help.
Note: All the suggestions above are ideas to help navigate some common childhood ailments. If you, as the parent are worried or unsure, it is always a safe idea to check with your nearest medical establishment to receive the care you need.
Now, the “family care” bag is complete. You can address any unexpected event and, with your first aid kit, respond to unforeseen injuries. Have fun exploring the world with your little one, knowing you are now better equipped to handle those bumps and scratches along the way.
Sunscreen is another first-aid essential that's often forgotten–until it's too late. Check out our recommendations for natural sunscreens to prevent burn.