What First Aid Kit Items Should Be In Your Bag?

What First Aid Kit Items Should Be In Your First Aid Kit

An array of first aid kit items

As an athletic trainer, I carry a whole stockpile of supplies ready for blood, fractures, sprains, strains and other emergencies.

As a coach or parent, you probably don’t need a big medical kit equipped with all the latest and gear but you do need some standard first aid kit items.

If you are at a game or practice and there isn’t an athletic trainer, EMT, a paramedic or even a first aid responder available, being prepared for small injuries is crucial to staying in the game and caring for your player.

I’ve included pictures of key items you should stock in your first aid kit.

“What type of kit should I get?”  This is a common question for those who are ready to create their first aid kit.

Most stores sell pre-made first aid kits that are plastic or cloth and easily fit into a backpack. This would be the bare minimum size, but it does include enough items for one or 2 first aid injuries.

I’ve outfitted teams with a small plastic toolbox from Home Depot, a metal training kit, and an actual heavyweight cloth training kit from Cramer Sports Medicine.

Depending on what you will need, the size should be at least the size of a shoebox.

Try to get a container with dividers or trays- small toolboxes are great for these. Make sure the zippers, handles, hinges, and design is sturdy for rough handling and constant opening.

I prefer the toolboxes with metal hinges and secure locking mechanisms. You wouldn’t want your first aid kit falling open as you carry it to the field.

“Where do I get these supplies?”  If you have an athletic trainer at your school they should be able to supply you with a first aid kit for your team.

If you don’t have access to an athletic trainer you can buy most athletic tape supplies at a sporting goods store and most first aid items at the pharmacy.

You might even approach a school athletic trainer and ask if you could purchase some tape and supplies for your kit.

The supply list below would be adequate for a team of 20 players. After supplies are used, restock the kit so you are prepared for the next game or practice.

Athletic Tapes and supplies: You will need to restock tape depending on the use

  • White cotton cloth tape in 2-inch width- at least 4 rolls
  • Underwrap/pre-wrap/foam pre-tape- at least 1 roll
  • Light elastic stretch tape- not a necessary item but if you can get some it’s nice to have- 2 rolls
  • Heavy elastic stretch tape- not a necessary item but good if you can get it- 1 roll
  • Self-adhesive elastic tape/coband- this is a special tape that does not have sticky adhesive on the back but will stick to itself. Not a necessary item but good if you can get it- 1 roll
  • Heel and lace pads/foam squares- 10 sets of these. They come in pairs with skin lube between each of them.
  • Tuff skin or tape adherent- this is a sticky spray used to help hold on tape and Band-Aids.

Blister care items:

  • Skin lube or Vaseline- a small container will work. I fill an old 35mm film canister with skin lube to save space.
  • Blister Band-Aids- there are a few companies that make really great blister bandages that seal the area prone to blister and provide a layer of plastic film to reduce friction.
  • Moleskin- this is a heavy adhesive strip that feels like felt. Some players like to put this on their heels.

Sprains, strains, and swelling control:

  • Ace bandages- you should have a couple of sizes for an ankle, knee, and thigh. A 4” and 6” wide ace bandage will work. A 6” double-length bandage is good for large thighs and hips.
  • Instant ice pack- you can get these at a pharmacy and are great if you don’t have access to actual ice. 1-2 ice packs should be stocked.
  • Ice bags- a plastic bag works great for ice. You can get a handful at the grocery store used for fruits and veggies, small garbage bags on a roll, or carry gallon-sized zip lock bags. About 10 empty bags should be stocked. Extra grocery bags are always useful for garbage, dirty/wet laundry, vomit, or items you want to save but not touch.

Blood and biohazard control:

  • Gloves- latex or non-latex nitrile gloves should be included with your first aid kit items and used when blood or body fluids are present. Carry at least 10 sets of gloves.
  • Gauze pads- I prefer the larger 4” x 4” gauze pads that are sterile and individually packed. Sometimes the small gauze pads are hard to handle or just not big enough. Pack at least 10.
  • Hand cleaner- alcohol-based gels are easy to get in travel size. You can also use hand wipes and a towel. Pack a small bottle or 10 towels.
  • Hydrogen peroxide- useful for getting blood out of uniforms and cleaning scrapes if you don’t have a wound cleanser. I pour the peroxide on the blood stain and let it sit until it bubbles and the stain starts to clear. Then wipe with gauze. Remember to use gloves and put all soiled material in a separate garbage bag.
  • Universal precautions kit- these might be hard to find at a local pharmacy, but these kits include a set of gloves, fluid spill granules, a scooper, a facemask, and a body gown. These come in handy when cleaning up vomit from the field. Not a necessary item but if you can find one it’s a good backup item.

Scrapes, small cuts, and nosebleeds:

  • Antiseptic spray or cleaner- these cleaners won’t sting like hydrogen peroxide and alcohol. Some also foam to help lift the debris out of a wound. Pack a small can.
  • Antibiotic ointment- a small tube of ointment or 10 small blister packs of ointment should be packed. If you use a tube make sure to put the ointment directly on the Band-Aid and not use your finger or the entire tube will be contaminated.
  • Band-Aids- a variety of sizes for small finger cuts to larger knee abrasions should be packed. I prefer the cloth backing Band-Aids to the ones with plastic because they tend to stick better.
  • Non-adhesive pads- these look like large Band-Aids and have a large non-stick surface and are great for covering up large abrasions and “strawberry” like injuries. Pack at least 10.
  • Steri-strips/ butterfly closures- use these for small lacerations that don’t need sutures or to secure a wound before you get stitches. Pack 3 sets of strips or a small box of butterfly closures.
  • Nasal plugs/sponges/cotton rolls- carry about 10 cotton rolls/nose plugs for a bloody nose. You can also get a product called QR, it’s a little more time-consuming and messy to use but works well for nosebleeds.

Splints, slings, CPR mask:

  • Arm sling- pack 1 arm sling
  • Sam splint- these can be easily molded to the body part that needed a splint. If you don’t have a splint you can use cardboard, a magazine, a pencil, or even a shin guard.
  • CPR mask- there are several types of CPR barrier masks to protect you and the victim from exchanging body fluids during CPR. Carry one mask.

Important documents:

  • Player medical info- every player should have a medical card detailing any allergies, emergency contacts, insurance information, and parent consent. Probably one of the most overlooked first aid kit items.
  • Hospital map guide- this is a handy document listing the local hospitals, urgent care, physicians, and pharmacies in the area.
  • First aid and CPR reference book- the American Red Cross makes a handy reference card and book you can keep in your kit for information on CPR, first aid, and emergencies. You can also find other references or download information from the internet.
  • Information about banned substances- A reference guide for the currently banned substances should be handy, especially if you are working with collegiate, national teams, or international players who are subject to drug testing.

Other first aid kit items:

  • Tampons and sanitary pads- these are necessary items for working with women’s teams or staff members.
  • Sunscreens and burn ointment/aloe vera gel- pack a can or you can use sunscreen wipes. Burns can be common so a small bottle of burn gel or aloe would be helpful on those weekends in the sun.
  • Sting relief- these have an analgesic pain killer for insect stings.  Any athlete who is allergic to bees should carry their own epi-pen.
  • Hydrocortisone cream- either a small tube or 10 blister packets should be packed. This is an anti-itch cream useful for bug bites or grass allergies. You can also carry a Benadryl spray or calamine lotion for itch relief.
  • Glucose gel or tablets- I carry these for any diabetic emergencies.
  • Electrolyte tablets/powder- I carry the Gatorade electrolyte powder you mix in water and use for cramping or dehydration.
  • Sewing kit- this small sewing kit has come in handy to sew up a captain’s band or safety pin a bra strap.
  • Contact case and solution or eye drops.
  • Heel cups or foam/felt pads-These are great for a heel bruise, Achilles tendonitis, or a calf strain.

Have fun packing your first aid kit!  Remember to bring your kit to practices and games, you never know when you might need a Band-aid.

For more reading on what first aid kit items to include on your bag, here is a great article from the Red Cross.

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