Need help figuring out what to put in your first aid kit? Or maybe you need to figure out how to use what you already have? Look no further. Here you’ll find out exactly how to make a first aid kit without breaking the bank.
First aid kits are expensive to purchase ready made. Not only that but most of the time they come packed with things that you may not know how to use or why to use. And that’s no good! You want every single item in your first aid kit to be practical and easy to use.
Budget First Aid Kit
My very first job as an athletic trainer I worked at a small school in rural Ohio. My office was (quite literally) a broom closet in the back hallway behind the gym. It worked. I loved the community, but my budget for supplies was nonexistent. I like to make the athletic teams a travel first aid kit, so they have something at all times, whether I was with them or not, but I only had $100 to make ten travel kits for all my teams! That’s not a lot of money! The cost to build a first aid kit, with full-size items, from a medical supply company was almost $50 per kit. I didn’t have that in my budget!
I had the idea to go check out the dollar store. I found everything I needed to make a basic first aid kit and could stay on budget! It was perfect! Since figuring that out, I continued to make my first aid kits from the Dollar Store. Why spend $50 (or more) at Target when you can find similar items for $1 a piece?!
I’ve tweaked the contents a little bit for my family and have found that these 19 items make the perfect travel first aid kit.
How to Make a First Aid Kit for Under $20
These don’t require much of an explanation; everyone is familiar with band-aids. Get the box with a variety of sizes, it’ll help when your child cuts their finger, and you have a small band-aid. And vice versa when they scrape their knee. Also, research has proven that character band-aids magically fix all ailments. So grab a box of those too.
Ok, so the character band-aids don’t fix everything, but in our house, they work like a charm for those ouchies that make my child whine for 23950840 hours. You know what I mean.
Compression wraps are great for a few reasons. First, they’re fantastic for support if someone rolls an ankle or hurts their wrist. The typical things you’d use an ace wrap for. What a lot of folks don’t know is that you can use them for other things too!
I use them in a pinch to hold ice on an injury. You won’t find an ice pack on this list because you can usually go to any restaurant and they’ll give you FREE ICE! Toss it in a plastic bag (I keep some in my Oh Crap Pack) and then use the ace wrap to secure it to your kid. This makes it so that your child can’t remove the ice and toss it all over your car.
Ace wraps are also useful to use to apply pressure to bleeding. You can place gauze pads, a clean t-shirt, or whatever you have on top of a significant bleed and then use the ace wrap to apply pressure to the wound while you travel home or to an urgent care for more help.
Along those same lines, you can use an Ace wrap as a tourniquet. I hope you never need to do this, but, you can.
Diaper Rash Cream
Obviously, you can put this on your baby’s bum if they get a rash while you’re out and about. But, it’s always a staple in my first aid kits for a few other reasons. Zinc oxide is a fantastic sunscreen. When regular sunscreen isn’t enough, you can put diaper cream right on the body part, and it’ll work like a charm. Most often you’ll see it used on noses and cheekbones.
Zinc Oxide is also a great drying agent. If you’re out and about and get a terrible blister, add a little zinc to your band-aid. It’ll help dry the blister, and the other ingredients will work as a skin protectant.
Anti Itch Cream
You can get either diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or hydrocortisone cream; it’s personal preference. There is a slight difference between the two, but for the most part, they’ll both the itching of insect bites, sunburns, bee stings, poison ivy, poison oak, and minor skin irritation.
Hydrocortisone is a steroid. Steroids relieve inflammation and thus help with the itching. Benadryl is an antihistamine. Antihistamines reduce or block histamines, so they stop allergy symptoms.
Triple Antibiotic Cream
Triple antibiotic cream (generic Neosporin) is one of those things that’s great to have if you need it in a pinch, but it’s not something that I use often. I keep it in my first aid kit for times when we’re not able to wash a wound thoroughly with soap and water. I’m able to put a little on, dress the wound, and then make it to a location where I can appropriately wash the scrape or other boo-boo better. I prefer cleaning a wound that way vs. using antibiotic ointment. Stay tuned; I’m writing a post to explain the rationale behind this 🙂
This stuff often gets a bad wrap because it’s a petroleum-based product, but it’s a fantastic first aid ointment because it’s so incredibly versatile. You can use it on diaper rash, small cuts, as a lip gloss, and even over those itchy poison ivy rashes to help keep it from spreading while you’re traveling home. I prefer to use this over triple antibiotic cream on wounds that I’m able to wash well. It’s a must-have in every first aid kit.
Always keep these on hand for cuts and scrapes that are too big for a band-aid. Layer them over the area and secure with the ace wrap or the paper tape in your kit.
Paper tape is an easy way to hold gauze pads on a more significant wound or even to use to help secure a band-aid to a weird spot (think fingers or toes). Athletic tape would work too but be careful; some kiddos can have skin reactions to the adhesive used in athlete tapes. That’s why I usually prefer paper tape when it comes to my kids.
I like to keep Tylenol (acetaminophen), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), and an antacid in my first aid kit. In a pinch, these things will take care of most of what we need. The medicine is typically for adults since it’s the tablets (nothing is worse than planning a fun day at the zoo to have a splitting headache when you get there!)
I don’t carry children’s liquid medicine in my first aid kit because the bottles can leak and make a sticky mess and the liquids can also get really, really hot in the summer. I prefer to dose the tablets down to an appropriate dose for my kids if they’re needed in a pinch. This is where keeping a pill cutter may come in handy too. Then I use the peanut butter to get them to swallow the medicine. If you’re interested in learning more about how to appropriately dose tablets for children, chat with your pharmacist or pediatrician for more information.
Or any shelf stable food that’s not sensitive to temperature extremes! I use this to give my kids medicine when needed, but when they’re super duper hungry and grumpy, this works well too since it’s full of fat and protein.
These little things come in super handy in a variety of situations. When you’re shopping for one make sure it has a knife, scissors, and a nail file. All the other attachments are bonuses. The scissors, knife, and nail file are what I use most often in a first aid situation. If I need to cut clothing off a wound, slice shoelaces of a slide or swing if they get stuck, or take care of a pesky hangnail, this is the tool I like to have on hand.
Other Odds and Ends
The last four things I like to have need no explanation: travel wipes, sunscreen, tissues, and hand sanitizer.
You need something to store all your goodies in! I like a plastic toolbox because it can’t get crushed by other things in my car, and I can’t lose the top because it’s attached. There are lots of options at the dollar store though! Regular plastic bins, large zipper pouches, tons of choices! Pick what you like and what will work best for your vehicle.
All packed up and ready to go! I like to take things out of the boxes and store in breastmilk bags (because I have a ton, and they’re durable). And it makes everything easy to find.
And that’s it! An easy to follow guide for how to make a first aid kit. And, it’s less than $20! These items are all easy to use and will help keep your family safe during those fun outings.
If you have any questions or would like me to elaborate on something a little further, leave me a comment! I’m always happy to answer questions.