What to Put in a First Aid Kit?

What does one exactly put in a first aid kit? A first aid kit can be as simple as a pair of latex gloves in a plastic bag and can go into a backpack. But to us, the first aid kit is a valuable asset to have in order to minimize the risk in any situation. We are going to list what can be included in a first aid kit, in order of importance, along with the use of the item within situations, activities, and constraints.

What to Put in a First Aid Kit?



It is important to include gloves in any first aid kit. Gloves are essential to have for protection in case of vomiting or hemorrhages. It is vital to add latex gloves, or in case of allergies, one can have PVC or nitrile type.  It is important to keep them in their original packaging or in a plastic freezer bag. Note that gloves will expire, they must be kept away from heat, checked regularly (annually), and kept absolutely clean.

Survival blanket

This is an important component to have in any first aid kit.  We prefer to have the metallized plastic type with silver and gold film. In order to use the survival blanket effectively the person must be “wrapped” inside with either silver side inside (insulates from humidity, cold and rain: the body retains its temperature), or silver side outside (protects from the sun). If you cannot move the person, due to a suspicion of a fracture, you simply put the blanket on them, silver side against the body, leaving the injured part visible for close monitoring.

Plastic bags

Plastic bags such as freezer bags can be used as emergency protection in case of hemorrhage, or to dispose of soiled waste (dirty bandages), or to collect sputum of blood and vomit (collected to be shown to a doctor for further evaluation).

Vital emergencies

Surgical pads

Surgical pads, dressing, and emergency compressive packages are essential to have in the case of bleeding. There are many tissue and compression bandages that are ready to use such as C.H.U. emergency hemostatic cushion.


A tourniquet is a device that is placed around a bleeding arm or leg. The device works by squeezing large blood vessels while helping stop the loss of blood. Usually we use a non-elastic wide tissue tie, strap type, with width about 1 to 3 cm, and length about 1.5 m.


A manual insufflator

A cervical collar

To support the neck and spinal cord, and to limit movement in case of injury to neck or head. It is now available in pre adjustable sizes.

Portable defibrillator

Each year people are struck by sudden cardiac arrest outside of hospital environments. They can affect anyone at any time. Whenever cardiac arrest strikes, there is absolutely no time to lose. Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces a victim’s survival rate by 7 to 10 per cent. Without immediate treatment, 90-95 per cent of cardiac arrests prove fatal. This is why it is vital to include a portable defibrillator in your emergency first aid kit.

AED’s (automated external defibrillator) are imperative in emergency settings. It is not just an important tool to have, but the proper training and proper knowledge is crucial for effective use.

Treatment of minor injuries such as scrapes and bruises

Sterile swabs

Used to clean wounds


Plaster and adhesive bandages in order to fix or compress a wound.

Antiseptic Solution

Used for cleaning wounds.  Can be acquired on the advice of a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. Make sure to pay close attention to the expiration date.

Pre-cut dressings

Dressings such as tubular elastic net bandages. These type of bandages are used to hold wound dressings firmly in place and compress tightly. Plaster type bandages do not hold well if the skin is wet.

Water reserve

Necessary to water burns. Think of using a bottle, or jerrycan.

Drinking water and a cup

Useful to have when taking medication.

Small equipment

Tweezers, scissors, flashlight, venom suction pump

These are all useful elements to have in any situation. Remember to change the flashlight batteries once a year as a preventive measure, and to have a spare bulb. In airplanes, metal objects (especially scissors) should travel in checked baggage.

Other Useful Items

Paper & pencil, small notepad

Paper and pencil can be used to note the time of application of a tourniquet, or to record information given by the victim or his entourage while waiting for the arrival of the rescue team. The use of  pencil is preferred to pen since it does not run out of ink, writes in the rain, and is easily sharpened with any sharp object.

On the move (car, hiking…)

Antibacterial gel

Used for hand washing.

Tissues or paper towels

Used to wipe everything.

Cold compressors  

Used to soothe pain and deflate traumatic edema.

Environment Protection

Products such as sunscreen, sun oil, sunburn care, insect repellent. Products according to the environment one is traveling and risk involved.  

Items for car

Work gloves

Such as handling gloves or gardening gloves. Leather gloves that can protect the palm and the inside of the fingers from risk of cuts by glass or sheet metal.

A road warning triangle

In France, hazard warning lights are not mandatory, but it’s a question of safety, not of law.

In Spain, for example, you must have two emergency vest; a yellow and orange fluorescent high-visibility vest with retro-reflective stripes. If you choose not to equip your vehicle with warning signs, you can choose to use cycling gear (harness, armband), with brightly colored clothes during the daylight at night for caution.

Fire extinguisher

Always needed for extra precaution, many economical models are now available.

A retractable blade knife

Something similar to a cutter. This small device is essential in order to cut the seatbelt strap in case of emergency release. There are also belt cutters where the blade is protected, which limits the risk of injury. Remember to check this item regularly (for example once a year, and before going on a trip). These type of products tend to freeze in the winter and heat up in the summer so weather limits their usability.

Other items only recommended if correct usage is known

Two fabric made isosceles triangles

Right-angled triangles of about 1.20 m each side, these are used for scarves and improvised packaging.

Crepe strips

Alternative for bandages

Adhesive elastic compression bandage

Can be used for hiking sprains

Disposable razors

Hair can interfere with the application of plasters or restraints

A CPR mouthpiece

For mouth-to-mouth resuscitation


Prescribing medication is exclusively the responsibility of a physician.  Over-the-counter medications could be purchased on the advice of the pharmacist.  In addition, medications have an expiration date that must be respected.  For these three reasons, medications are not part of a first aid kit, but rather a separate pharmacy kit.

This article was originally published in Executive Protection and Secure Transportation Magazine Spring 2021 Issue.

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