The importance of a DIY first aid kit is obvious, but what exactly goes into one? Download the FREE checklist and let’s build one together!
Think about this – everyone has a place in their home where they keep band-aids, ointments, aspirin and allergy medicine. For us, we have a couple of places because we like to have multiples of everything. It’s important to have these things on hand at all times. You never know when you’ll need them.
But do you have an actual first aid kit put together?
Having a first aid kit assembled that is well-stocked is a necessity on every homestead. You could just buy a pre-packed kit, or you could put together your own DIY first aid kit – and chances are good that you have a lot of this stuff in your cabinets, drawers and linen closets already. Build it out and keep it in easy reach so it’s ready in case of emergency. Better to be prepared than to scramble for items when you need them most.
Choosing the Best DIY First Aid Kit Container
When making your own first aid kit, the first thing you will need is a container. Any container will do, but I like to use specific things for specific situations. Let your budget be your guide when choosing a container.
For our standard household first aid kit, we like these red Dixie EMS First Responder bags. They are easily identifiable, so you won’t have any trouble knowing when you’ve found it. It has a large main pocket with a divider as well as two zippered pockets on the side, but it is extremely compact. It’s also easy to carry to the garden, your barn, or wherever you need them.
The first aid kits we keep in our vehicles are kept in smaller red bags. You could use any color bag, but we like these red first aid bags, so we know in an emergency that we’re grabbing the first aid kit without having to give it a second thought (plus they’re marked “First Aid” with a cross on it).
How to Label Your First Aid Kit
If you’re not using something that’s already marked “First Aid,” be sure you label your container clearly. Labeling makes it easier for children and guests to know that these are your first aid kits in case of an emergency.
- Plastic Containers – You can write on the container with a permanent marker, or you could use a label maker to put some sticky labels on the containers.
- Bags – If you have bags that weren’t designed specifically for first aid kits, you might want to sew a red cross patch or an embroidered first aid label onto your first aid bag.
DIY Bug-Out First Aid Kit
It is also a good idea to keep an individual first aid kit (IFAK) with your bug-out bag. You can get a MOLLE pack to attach directly to your pack or stuff it inside. Just be sure that if you put it inside your bug-out bag you keep it near the top, so it is easy to grab if you need it.
If you have young children that can’t read yet, be sure to mark a big red cross on the box and teach your child what that is and what it means.
Now that you have your containers, you need to fill them. Let’s build that homemade first aid kit.
Most Important DIY First Aid Items Checklist
This is a checklist of some of the most important items that should be in every DIY first aid kit:
This is any small item or piece of gear that can be reused.
- First Aid Book – As with any piece of equipment you ever own, if you don’t know how to use the things in your first aid kit, they become useless. The difference here is, improper usage of the items on this first aid kit checklist could result directly or indirectly in death. Read the book, learn it, and practice it regularly.
- Nitrile Gloves – In case of blood, body fluids and dangerous waste, you’ll want some protection for your hands. I recommend at least two pairs. (Nitrile is more common in today’s kits due to latex and rubber allergies.)
- Scissors – A pair of sharp medical scissors will aid in cutting gauze or bandages and can aid in removing restricting clothing without fear of cutting your patient.
- Thermometer – Something like a touchless thermometer isn’t always completely accurate, but you’ll know if you’re dealing with a minor fever or something worse. If you’re still inclined to go old school, use a rectal thermometer for infants and an oral one for bigger kids to adults. (This thermometer model is good for oral, rectal, and under arm, but I’d make sure to get more than one and mark which is which. You don’t want any part of that confusion.)
- Tweezers – You’ll definitely want some tweezers for pulling out splinters, stingers, glass, and any other small objects that may get lodged under your skin.
- Sewing Needles – You may need extra help with splinter removal. Also use needles to lance a blister if necessary.
- CPR Breathing Mask – This one is self-explanatory, I think. (Also, take a CPR class.) If you prefer them, you could always get some of these face shields instead.
Items that will eventually run out when used and may need to be checked for expiration dates during routine first aid kit inspections.
- Alcohol Prep Wipes – Useful for cleansing wound sites prior to bandaging. Also good for cleaning thermometers, scissors, tweezers, or any other piece of equipment so you don’t risk infection. (Do NOT substitute Lysol or Clorox Wipes!! They are not the same!!)
- Sterile Saline – Good for irrigating wounds, rinsing eyes, and used as a nasal flush.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – A mild antiseptic used on the skin to prevent infection of minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Should not be used to treat deep wounds, animal bites, or serious burns.
- Rubbing Alcohol – Aside from being an antiseptic and disinfectant, did you know alcohol can help ease nausea? The next time you’re feeling a little queasy, soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and keep it near you so you can smell it. (Don’t inhale it directly.)
- Triple Antibiotic Ointment – Used to prevent and treat small cuts, scrapes, or burns by stopping the growth of bacteria.
- Bandage Rolls – Rolls of gauze bandage material.
- Adhesive Bandages – You’ll want a variety of sizes because all booboos aren’t the same size. (aka Band-Aids)
- Large Gauze Pads – You can cut these down to smaller sizes if necessary.
- Cotton Balls – Useful to help stop the flow of blood. Can also be used to apply peroxide or alcohol.
- Medical Tape – Not box tape, duct tape, electrical tape or masking tape, although in a survival situation, those will do!
- Aspirin / Ibuprofen / Acetaminophen – Small packets or bottles, depending on what kit you are stocking.
Optional Items to Include in Your DIY First Aid Kit
Now that you have the basic gear inside your containers, let’s begin to think about the individual kits. What will their purpose be? Where will they stay? Do you have specific situations that dictate something extra?
The lists below are just suggestions. You may not need everything here, or there may be things you need that I haven’t listed. If you do stock something in your first aid kit that isn’t on this list, I would love it if you left me a comment to let me know. I’ll add it to the list so future readers will have a better idea what others keep in their first aid kits.
- Small knife – In case you need more than just scissors.
- Matches – Put these in a waterproof container or waterproof the matches themselves – or both! Matches will help with sterilization of stainless steel (blades, needles, etc).
- Paper bags – For hyperventilation.
- Razor blades – Can help when removing really big splinters.
- Emergency Inhaler, EpiPens, or other emergency prescribed medication
- Medicine dropper – Good for doling out medicine to young children. Can also help apply peroxide or alcohol directly to a wound.
- Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) – Mixed with water and ingested, will help relieve acid reflux or upset stomach. There are also other medical uses for baking soda.
- Calamine lotion – Helps relieve sunburn as well as itching from things like insect bites and poison oak and ivy.
- Antidiarrheal pills – Because you never know, ya know?
- Elastic bandages – ACE bandages are typically associated with this product. Some elastic bandages have metal clip closures, some have velcro to keep them closed. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but I would sooner get the velcro than the metal clips because those clips can be lost.
- Self-Adhesive Bandage Wraps – These are great for securing gauze pads on wounds on your arms or legs. They will wrap completely around and stick to themselves.
- Triangular bandages – Use as arm sling, cravat bandage or cover for head dressing.
- Ammonia inhalant capsules – Also called “smelling salts”, they are used for arousing consciousness.
- Bee sting swabs – If you’ve ever been stung, you know they’re no joke. These swabs are awesome to have!
- Snake bite kit – If you’re in the woods or out on the homestead on a regular basis, you will likely encounter a snake. If you are bitten, these kits have everything you need — including instructions (which you should read and learn before the emergency occurs).
- Any critical medical family histories – It’s always a good idea to keep information with the first aid kit pertaining to allergies and such in case of extreme emergency. Being self-reliant means this information should always be on hand. It could be detrimental to your survival!
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Additional Tips for Your DIY First Aid Kit
- Make kits easily accessible. – It is a good idea to store your DIY first aid kits in easily accessed locations around your home. You don’t want to have to dig for them when you need them the most.
- Educate your family and guests. – Teach your children and frequent house guests where the first aid kits are stored. If you need them but can’t go grab them yourself, you can rely on the kids/guests to know exactly where to go so they get the first aid kit and get it back to you as quickly as possible.
- Check your kits regularly. – Be sure to replace missing equipment or consumables that may have expired on a regular basis. Expired meds are not as effective as they are in their “fresh” state, and if they are not there at all, you’re really up the creek.
- Keep your equipment clean. -Always wash any tweezers, scissors, and thermometers after each use. Sterilize them with rubbing alcohol for added safety. Dirty or contaminated equipment will only make matters of poor health worse.
- No Latex! – Do not use any products containing natural rubber latex (NRL). They may deteriorate after time or worse – someone could be allergic to the latex and have an adverse reaction if they come into contact with the gloves. Be sure you’re using Nitrile gloves!
Final DIY First Aid Kit Notes
Most manufacturing plants, mechanic shops and warehouses have fully stocked kits that hangs on the wall. Since we’re talking about making your own DIY first aid kit, you could just get the empty cabinet to hang on the wall and fill yourself.
Personally, I recommend you keep a first aid kit in each bathroom in your house, one under the kitchen sink, one in the garage, and one in each car. Overkill? Maybe, but I would rather be prepared than panicked. The faster you can tend to a wound after it happens, the better off you will be. The whole concept is key to self-sufficiency!
If this is all a little much for you, or you would rather just have a ready-made kit, this first responder trauma first aid kit is a great one!
What did I miss? What do you keep in your DIY first aid kit?
Thanks for reading this post! As a way to say an extra “thank you,” I’ve added a copy of my personal First Aid Kit Checklist. This will get updated as I update mine, so check back regularly!
Patrick & Jessie homestead in Middle Georgia with two of their four children and their three dogs. They love gardening, food preservation, and keeping their family prepared for any disaster that may come.