Most accidents happen in the home, so it’s important to have some supplies around. You may not need—or be able—to have as extensive a collection as a hospital or clinic, but here are some of the basics:
- Painkillers, ideally regular- rather than extra-strength (easier to avoid accidental overdose). What kind is up to you, but remember they have various side effects and interactions, so read the label or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
- Alcohol wipes, hydrogen peroxide and soap to clean wounds. Sterile gauze, medical tape and bandages to dress them.
- Sharp scissors to cut dressings for wounds; EMT scissors are good for cutting without sacrificing safety in an emergency or rushed situation.
- A digital oral thermometer; other kinds are adequate, but may be less accurate or reliable.
- Calamine lotion and cortisone for bug bites and antihistamine cream for itching.
- Tweezers to take slivers and other objects out of the skin.
- Cold packs for muscle injuries and bruises.
- Antacids for heartburn.
- A list of emergency contact numbers, including your doctor’s number, emergency services especially if it’s something other than 9-1-1, and poison control, which is 800-222-1222.
- Decongestants and cough medicines.
- Directions to the nearest emergency room. Better yet, the two nearest, if there are several nearby.
- Dehydration fluids—sports drinks in a pinch—for combating illnesses that feature vomiting or diarrhea.
- Salicylic acid is good for acne whether or not you have it as a painkiller in the form of aspirin.
- If there are adult women in your home, you should have something for yeast infections.
- Antihistamines to treat allergies.
- Toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash. Keep these on hand so you’re less tempted to skip brushing, and have rub-on painkiller available for gum pain just in case.
This is a general list; you or someone in your home may have specific medical needs that require additional supplies. Your doctor can tell you if there’s anything uncommon that you ought to have around.