This article presents 15 recommendations for a well-balanced first aid kit, and how to stock these items easily and cost-efficiently. In these economic times, everyone is looking at costs in all areas. And wow, are there ever differences in first aid buying options.

Our job includes knowing the options available for buying first aid supplies. We were tasked to find the best single source for all the first aid items a business needs — a first aid supplier that offers a broad range of kits and cabinets for various business purposes, as well as smaller consumer-style first aid kits and bags. Also, this supplier should offer all the first aid items needed for a comprehensive first aid refill, have single-use items, and OSHA-compliant products.

After much shopping around without success, we made a list of 15 essential items a first aid kit needs to have:

1. Antiseptics & Cleansers
Every first aid kit or cabinet should be well stocked with antiseptic wipes such as benzalkonium chloride (BZK) and alcohol for cleaning and sterilizing a wound and instruments used in treating the wound. Modern thinking recommends hand sanitizers to disinfect the rescuer before and after first aid treatment as well.

2. Antibiotics
Cleaning and covering a wound is great, but you must protect against infection, too.

3. Adhesive Bandages
Band-Aids are frequently used in any first aid situation, make sure your first aid kit has plenty of first aid bandages and a variety of sizes for different purposes. Some, such as knuckle, fingertip and butterfly bandages may seem odd, but are very handy when you know how and why to use them.

4. Gauze Rolls / Gauze Pads / Trauma Dressings
A complete first responder first aid pack includes items for stopping severe bleeding and protecting an injury. Sterile gauze pads and rolls should be abundant.

5. First Aid Tapes
Many first aid kits have gauze, but no way to secure it. Make sure your first aid kit or cabinet is well stocked with appropriate latex-free first aid tape.

6. Wraps & Bandages
Latex-free elastic wraps and triangular bandages or triangle slings are a must. These are used for splinting and binding.

7. First Aid Instruments - Scissors / Tweezers / Tongue Depressors
First aid instruments designed for first aid purposes should be stocked and ready to go. What’s the use of having great first aid tapes and gauzes if you can’t trim them to apply effectively?

8. Gloves / PPE
A business or personal first aid kit must have personal protective equipment for the safety of the rescuer and the comfort of the casualty. Gloves should always be latex-free in consideration of latex-sensitive users.

9. Cold Packs / Instant Cold Compresses
Cold treatment is needed for sprains, strains, bumps and bruises. Consider an ice securing wrap, too — these are very convenient for holding a cold compress in place for the recommended 10-15 minutes so neither the rescuer, nor the casualty have to hold the pack in place.

10. Pain Meds
A complete first aid set-up needs aspirin, non-aspirin and other pain relief items in single-dose packets.

11. Eye Injury First Aid
We were surprised to find how many first aid kits ignore eye injuries. Our list includes eye wash, eye pads, and eye drops.

12. Burn care
You don’t have to be in a restaurant kitchen to suffer a burn in the workplace. Friction burns, chemical burns, even heat burns from the break room coffee pot happen frequently in every line of work. Be sure your first aid station is equipped with adequate burn first aid supplies.

13. Guide
Not everyone has attended a first aid course, nor remembers what was taught if they did attend. Any first aid kit or first aid cabinet needs a quick reference first aid guide booklet.

14. CPR
A thorough first aid kit list should include some sort of CPR barrier device or CPR mask to protect the rescuer and encourage administration of CPR.

15. AED
No, an AED will not fit in your first aid kit, although they do keep getting smaller, more efficient and more affordable. You should, however, give serious consideration to the lifesaving value of placing an AED in your workplace. We will explore this topic in depth in the June edition ofISHN.

Finding what you need

Now we have the list. Where can we fill this list conveniently and at a fair price?

Whoa! Do a Google search for “First Aid Product” or a Yahoo! query for “First Aid Store” and you will be overwhelmed. And according to the paid, “Sponsored” listings, every one of these companies listed offers the lowest price, best selection, and greatest service. How can they all be #1?

Ignore these paid ads. The “Sponsored” listings at the top and right-hand column of each page are paid advertisements, and do not reflect the best search result or best match, but rather the highest-paying advertisers.

Instead, try the same Internet search for “First Aid Product” or “First Aid Store” and look at the top results in the white body section of the resulting page. These are the top, most relevant results, and will get you the answers you are looking for. If you want a first aid store online, or if you are looking for first aid products to meet your needs, these top “natural” or “organic” search results are determined by complex algorithms which compare other searches, content, popularity, etc. These are the true winners and should have everything you need.

We compared. Some of the advertisers in the sponsored listings seem to have great prices, but the shipping was astronomical. Others had reasonable prices and shipping, but small variety. Some seemed to be “fly by night” companies, and others appear to only offer cheap, as in poorly made, foreign first aid products.

Culling through the masses, weeding out the “Saver Stores,” “Super Stores,” and other big promise-small delivery Web sites, we found that the top natural searches really offered everything we were looking for: fair price, fast service, reasonable shipping, and real, human customer service available via a toll-free number.

Try your own comparison, or check out the top search result sites — they seem to have it all: easy and inexpensive first aid. Why throw money away on an expensive first aid van /delivery service or overpriced supplier? First aid is required by OSHA for all businesses, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay through the nose for quality first aid, good service, and selection.

Now that you know what belongs in your first aid kit… Learn how to use it! Watch the FREE online Video: “How to use your First Aid Kit ~ What your First Aid Class Didn’t Teach You”