- Water bottle: The first thing you’ll need to do with a crying kid is clean out any wounds. And the nearest water source is probably too far to walk. You can use your water bottle to treat dehydration, too.
- Diphenhydramine: This is probably the most important over-the-counter medication to have in your first aid kit — it’s a first line treatment for insect bites, hives and other allergic reactions that can be deadly. It’s also a great treatment for an attack of seasonal allergies.
- Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen: These are standard medicines used to relive pain and fevers, but be sure to add the liquid kind for children.
- Nausea medication: As an easy fix for vomiting and carsick kids, nausea medication is something you don’t want to leave home without. You’ll kick yourself for not having it while you clean the vomit out of your car.
- Sunscreen: The worst sunburns occur when you least expect it — at sporting events or while playing at the park. Having some 30+ sunscreen always at the ready is a great way to be prepared. Keep sunblock handy, too, to cover those little spots on ears and neck that hats may not cover. And don’t forget SPF lip balm, a spot many people forget to protect.
- Bug spray: The best protection comes from a repellant that contains 30 percent DEET. Insect bites are annoying at best, but at worst they get scratched and infected.
- Hydrocortisone ointment: This inexpensive over-the-counter medication will treat almost anything that itches — insect bites, poison ivy, etc. If you stop the itch, the kids won’t scratch and you reduce the risk of secondary infection.
- Clean towel: A nice, clean towel is perfect for setting up your first-aid station while you dress a wound or remove a splinter. It’s also useful for containing bleeding on bigger injuries.
- Premade finger splint: Not sure if that finger is broken or not? Just put it in a pre-made finger splint until you get your child to the doctor. You can buy premade finger splints at any pharmacy.
- Alcohol wipes: These can be used for sterilizing first aid kit instruments, such as tweezers and scissors. They are also useful for cleaning skin before trying to remove splinters.
- ACE bandage: Although a first line treatment for sprains and strains, ACE bandages are also useful for holding bandages in place on bigger wounds and holding splints on fractures.
- Small scissors & tweezers: For cutting dressings to the right size, cutting medical tape, opening packages, trimming fingernails and hangnails, etc. Tweezers are great for removing splinters.
One more tip: Keep your first aid kit in your car. You’ll never have to remember to pack it. If you need something while you are at home, just go out and get it. If you have more than one family car, consider making a first aid kit for each car.
For more children’s health information, visit HealthyChildren.org
Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D., FAAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, [email protected]