Selecting appropriate medications for first aid kits

Factors to Consider

Whether or not you want medication in your first aid kit depends on how you plan to use it.

Considering the purpose of the kit may help you determine whether medications are appropriate.

Where Will the Kit Be Used?

Where the kit will be used can help you determine what items to place in the kit.

For example, if your kit will primarily be used at home, it may not make sense to include medication, since the medicine cabinet may be just as easily accessible.

If you plan to store the kit in your car, stocking it with medication may not be a good idea, as they may be exposed to extreme temperatures that may end up making them unusable.

On the other hand, if your kit will be used on a sports field, in a group setting like an extracurricular club, camping, or in a place of business, having some medications on hand for injuries or other emergencies may be useful.

Likewise, you may also want pain relievers, fever reducers, and other drugs on-hand if your kit is used for travel, in case a family member becomes unexpectedly ill and you cannot find what you need where you are staying.

Who Has Access?

If adults in your family are the only ones who use the kit, including medications is no concern.

However, if children and teens also use the kit, you may want to leave medications out or be more choosey about those you include.

You can also stock the kit as you wish, but place it out of reach of small hands or in a locked box that only grown-ups can open.

You may also make different decisions about what you put in a family-only kit vs. a kit you share with others.

Legal Considerations

This is mainly due to liability concerns. There could be some legal issues if someone outside of your family uses a medication from your kit inappropriately or has an adverse reaction to one.

For example, you may want to include aspirin in a first aid kit because it can help save someone’s life if given in the earliest stages of a heart attack by inhibiting the growth of a blood clot and reducing the damage to your heart. If only adults use your kit, adding aspirin may be OK.

But aspirin should not be given to a child without a doctor’s OK due to the potential for a rare, but serious condition called Reye’s syndrome. (Children who develop Reye’s often have a viral illness first, but that could be something as simple as the common cold.)

If the kit is meant for kids and adults, it’s easy to see how a child could receive aspirin mistakenly.

Be sure to consult with a lawyer and check the laws in your state before including them in a kit used outside of your immediate household. Often, places of business and organizations already have rules about this in place, so managers may be able to provide this information easily.

Of course, you can mitigate the potential for this entirely by asking people to carry whatever medications they may need with them.

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