First-aid kit essentials

Here’s everything you need to know about what you need in your first-aid kit, storing your family’s medicine, and administering it.


Here’s everything you need to know about what you need in your first-aid kit, storing your family’s medicine, and administering it.

What you should have in your first-aid kit:

For aches, pain and fever:

  • Paracetamol (infant suppositories, drops, syrup and tablets)

For nasal congestion

  • A nasal aspirator
  • Saline nose drops/spray

For skin irritations and wounds

  • An anti-itch cream
  • A burn-relief spray or gel
  • Antiseptic swabs or solution
  • An antiseptic ointment
  • Plasters (paediatric sizes are also available)
  • Crepe bandages in varying sizes (paediatric sizes are also available) and larger occlusive dressings for large wounds
  • Gauze

For temperature measurement

  • A thermometer for ear, rectum and mouth

For bumps and bruises

  • Arnica gel

Miscellaneous items

  • Oral rehydration sachets
  • Cough syrup
  • Dosing syringes
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • First-aid tape
  • Plastic bags to keep items unspoiled
  • A pair of latex gloves
  • Hot and cold packs
  • Insect repellent
  • Cotton wool
  • A sling (large triangular bandage)
  • A splint
  • A first-aid guide (it would be advisable to attend a first-aid course)
  • Cards with emergency contact numbers on, such as The Poison Information Centre, your paediatrician, your neighbours, your child’s grandparents, etc.

Storing medications

Incorrect storage of medications can result in rapid degradation and contamination of your medication, even before the expiry date.
Remember to always store all your medicines in their original containers where the medicine’s name, batch number (important in the event of a drug recall) and expiry date are clearly visible. For example, tablets dispensed in blister packs and amber-coloured bottles need to be kept in their packaging so that they aren’t exposed to oxygen.
Medicines should be kept in cool, dry conditions, away from direct sunlight, heat and moisture, as these conditions cause medicines to break down and become less effective.

Why does some medication need to be taken after food, and some on an empty stomach?

Food and medicines can interact profoundly. Some medications need to be taken on an empty stomach in order to aid absorption and therefore maintain the effectiveness of the medication. It also ensures that the medicine isn’t destroyed or deactivated by digestive processes such as stomach acid, which would result in its ineffectiveness.
Some medications need to be taken after meals to prevent gastric upset and abdominal side effects. There are other reasons as well, but these would depend on the medication itself. You can discuss these with your pharmacist or doctor, but always follow all the instructions that come with medicines.

Important points to remember:

  • Always ensure that all medicines are properly labelled and have the directions for use clearly indicated.
  • You can purchase generic medications over their brand-named equivalents if cost is an issue.
  • Be sure to check the expiry date of medicines regularly. For safety and efficacy, get rid of all expired medicines.
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