Summer is around the corner, and for many of us it can’t come soon enough. It’s a time for barbecues, swimming, bike rides, and spending time outside: playing sports, hiking, and exploring the great outdoors. However, these fun outdoor activities bring inevitable pain – kids, in particular, are susceptible to falling, which leads to scraped knees and cut-up hands.
Whether you spend the summer at home, or you rent a beach house or visit family, you need to be prepared for the worst. Often, preparedness is the number one step for injury prevention and mitigation – and having a first aid kit on hand is the first line of defense.
Travel first aid kits are perfect to keep by the pool or in your car, to take with you on a trip, or to leave on your boat or bring camping. There are numerous products made by several different companies and sold in nearly every grocery or drug store – look for a red cross on a little plastic suitcase. When you have the essentials on hand, you’ll always be ready to treat cuts and scrapes on the go, so you can continue to enjoy your own well-deserved vacation time.
What to keep in your first aid kit
Almost any pharmacy will have pre-made, cost-effective kits with the following essentials:
- Adhesive bandages in many sizes
- Gauze dressing pads
- First aid tape
- Rolls of gauze bandage
- Antiseptic towelettes
- Antibiotic ointment packs
- First aid instruction booklet
In addition to first aid kits, you may also want to get a small bag or backpack to fit a few other things. Other items that may come in handy for quick mends after summer falls or slips:
- Small scissors for cutting bandages
- Numbing spray for the more painful cuts
- Disposable sanitary gloves
- Single-dose packages of ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Tweezers for splinters
- Burn cream
- A clean towel and bottle of water
Here are some basic guidelines to help you care for minor cuts and scrapes:
- Wash your hands before you treat cuts and scrapes to avoid infection. Minor cuts and scrapes usually will stop bleeding on their own fairly quickly, but if they don’t, apply gentle pressure with a clean bandage or the gauze or the fresh towel in your kit and elevate the wound until the bleeding stops.
- Clean the wound. Rinse the wound with fresh water or the recommended distilled water from your kit. If you’re near a faucet, put the wound right under the tap water to rinse it out. Wash around the wound with soap if at home, or with the antiseptic wipes. But don’t get soap in the wound. And don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine, for these products can all sting and be irritating. Remove any dirt or debris with tweezers (you can wipe the tweezers down with an antiseptic wipe to ensure cleanliness).
- Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment right away to keep the scrape moist and to prevent scarring.
- As soon as the cut is dry, apply a bandage, rolled gauze or gauze held in place with paper tape. Covering the wound keeps it clean. If the injury is just a minor scrape or scratch, leave it uncovered.
- Change the dressing at least once a day or whenever the bandage becomes wet or dirty.
- Know when to seek professional treatment (see below).
When to seek professional treatment
Call your doctor or visit a local urgent care facility if:
- You can’t remove all debris that may have gotten into the cut
- Bleeding persists for more than a few minutes after the incident and doesn’t stop after bandaging
- The wound doesn’t heal as expected or opens back up after starting to heal
- There is redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling in or around the wound – this could indicate infection and may require antibiotics
- If you are cut by, or step on, rusty metal (such as a nail) and you aren’t sure if you are up to date on your tetanus vaccine
Finally, remember we are always here to help if you need us!