Guide to First Aid Kits – Different types & contents of First Aid Kits
What is a First Aid Kit?
A first aid kit is a container which houses an assortment of medical supplies used to administer immediate medical treatment – or, first aid. They are commonly kept on premises in schools, workplaces and businesses as well as at home for personal and family use.
First aid kits are typically used for the treatment of cuts, abrasions, wounds and other minor injuries and illnesses. In these instances, first aid kits can help to:
- Prevent worsening of the injury/illness
- Promote recovery
- Preserve life
For a medical emergency where more serious or critical injuries have been sustained, first aid kits allow for the provision of initial medical assistance until professional medical intervention (i.e. emergency services) can be accessed.
The contents of first aid kits can vary considerably depending on the:
- Unique hazards of your workplace/home (e.g. working with machinery vs. working in an office)
- Number of workers/family members
- Composition workers/family members (e.g. those with asthma or allergies)
- Size of your workplace/home (e.g. larger dwellings may require multiple first aid kits for easy accessibility)
First Aid Kit Legislation in Australia
Currently, the First aid in the workplace Code of Practice, developed by Safe Work Australia, details how first aid kits should be incorporated in Australian workplaces. The Code of Practice mandates that businesses in Australia provide all workers with access to first aid kits in their workplace.
Different Types of First Aid Kits
There are a range of first aid kits that are available on the market with different types suited to treat specific injuries and illnesses that are common to particular work and home environments as well as first aid kits to suit specific industries.
These are some of the main first aid kits to choose from:
Home First Aid Kits
A handy collection of essential first aid supplies for household and recreational use, Home first aid kits are a suitable option for families, both at home and when travelling. Home first aid kits contain a selection of necessary items to treat common home injuries, such as cuts and burns.
Workplace Standard First Aid Kits
An all-round option that complies with Safe Work Australia’s Code of Practice for workplaces, Workplace Standard first aid kits allow for a prompt response to injuries that are common to a wide variety of environments. For specialised workplaces that have specific requirements outlined in the Code of Practice, additional first aid modules can provide additional first aid supplies to meet these requirements.
Injury-Specific Module Kits
These comprehensive workplace first aid kits come equipped with six injury-specific modules that meet and exceed Australian workplace requirements. Modules include:
- Eye wound module
- Dressing & bandage module
- Burns module
- Cuts & grazes module
- Trauma module
- Snake bite module
These kits are suitable for use across a range of industries, particularly where workers are proximate to caustic substances, acids, solvents and hot work. Module First Aid Kits are designed to provide faster access to essential items in the case of an emergency. Contents of each module are separated per injury type to assist the rescuer with the correct first aid procedure.
Remote Work First Aid Kits
While containing first aid essentials, Remote Work first aid kits also include additional equipment that may be needed by remote workers in medical emergencies. These include items such as torches, whistles and belt loop attachments. Remote work first aid kits can be customised with additional first aid items to meet the specific requirements of the work location.
Bum Bag First Aid Kit
A super portable first aid kit, Bum Bags come filled with all the essential first aid equipment needed to treat minor wounds and injuries. A suitable option for teachers in the course of school camps and excursions.
Marine First Aid Kits
In addition to containing first aid essentials, Marine First Aid Kits are built to comply with the Australian NSCV (National Standard for Commercial Vessels). Requirements for the indicated Class of vessel. Developed with UV and water resistance in mind, with a full wall mount bracket for secure attachment, these kits are functionally suited to marine environments.
Vehicle First Aid Kits
Designed to treat injuries that occur at the side of the road or anywhere vehicles go. Vehicle First Aid Kits contain roadside specialty equipment, such as a high visibility vest and emergency triangle as well as a full first aid kit designed for road trauma incidents. Vehicle kits are specifically designed to be compact enough to fit inside cars while tough enough to be protected in trucks and other vehicles.
Wall Mounted First Aid Kits
Common to a diverse range of workplaces, Wall Mounted first aid kits are available in a range of sizes, suited to businesses with small to large numbers of personnel. Often the contents of these kits can be customised to the requirements of the workplace, from low-risk environments (e.g. retail and office) to high-risk settings (e.g. factories and motor vehicle workshops).
Contents of first aid kits
While the contents of first aid kits can vary between workplaces depending on the specific first aid needs of workers, standard first aid kit contents (as described in the Code of Practice) appropriate for most businesses, should include:
- First aid booklet (instructions on providing first aid)
- Resuscitation face mask/face shield
- 5x Disposable examination gloves
- 5x Gauze pieces (min. 3 per pack, 7.5cmx7.5cm)
- 8x Saline 15mL bottles
- 10x Wound cleaning wipe
- 50 pack of adhesive dressing strips
- 10x Disposable splinter probes
- 50mL antiseptic liquid/spray
- 6x Non-adherent wound dressing/pad (5cmx5cm)
- 3x Non-adherent wound dressing/pad (7.5cmx10cm)
- 1x Non-adherent wound dressing/pad (10cmx10cm)
- 3x Conforming cotton bandage (5cm width)
- 3x Conforming cotton bandage (7.5cm width)
- Crepe bandage (10cm)
- Non-stretch, hypoallergenic adhesive tape (2.5cm width)
- 6 pack of safety pins
- BPC wound dressing No. 14 (medium)
- BPC wound dressing No. 15 (large)
- Dressing combination pad (9cmx20cm)
- Clip seal plastic bag
- 2x Triangular bandage (min. 90cm width)
- Emergency rescue blanket (shock/hypothermia indications)
- 4x Eye pad (single use)
- Access to 20m of clean running water, or, if water is unavailable, 5x 3.5gm hydrogel sachet
- Instant ice packet (soft tissue injury/stings/bites indications)
- Notebook and pen
But again, while this first aid kit checklist may serve as a guideline, when determining what should be in a first aid kit, it is always important to conduct a risk assessment – basing the contents of the kit on the nature of the workplace and the first aid requirements of the workers.
How to Use First Aid Kit
As important as it is to keep a well-stocked first aid kit, it is just as important to know how to use it. Taking the time to read the first aid booklet included in your kit will give you an understanding of how and when to apply the specific items contained within.
A first aid booklet should provide you with a basic knowledge of first aid, such knowing that:
- Dressing pads are used to cover and pack bleeding wounds
- Rescue blankets help regulate body temperature
- Non-adherent dressings are used to cover wounds and burns
- Triangular bandages can be used as a arm sling to immobilise the injured limb, or as a pad to control bleeding
- Saline containers are used to flush debris from wounds and eyes
However, if you want or require further first aid training it is advisable that you enroll in a first aid course that provides nationally recognised Statement/s of Attainment issued by a Registered Training Organisation as stipulated by the Code of Practice.
It’s important to know that, as a business operating in Australia, you must ensure that an adequate number of workers have received sufficient first aid training and can administer first aid, or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who are trained to administer first aid.
Where to Keep First Aid Kit at Home & in the Workplace
In the Home
In a household setting, it’s advisable that first aid kits be kept in locations that are frequently used or in high risk areas. First Aid Kits should always be in close reach to members of the house. Larger houses should contain more than one first aid kit:
- In a cool, dry location
- Out of reach of children
- In high risk areas such as:
- The Kitchen
- The Garage
- The Shed
- The Backyard
Adult family members, however, should all know where the first aid kit is, and have easy access to it. First aid kits should be well maintained, be in date and each member of the family should know what the first aid kit contains.
In The Workplace
The Code of Practice provides a checklist of criteria regarding the required contents and correct placement of first aid kits in the workplace. Each workplace has specific requirements as to the First Aid Items that are required. High Risk Workplaces require first aid kits that contain specific items for that workplace. All workplace first aid kits should be:
- Kept in a prominent, easily accessible location
- Accessible to all workers (including those in security-controlled workplaces)
- In areas with a higher risk of injury/illness
For workplaces that occupy multiple floors, at least one first aid kit should be located on every second floor, wth emergency floor plans clearly displaying the location of first aid kits throughout the premises.
Mobile workers such as taxi drivers, couriers and bus drivers should be provided a portable first aid kit to be kept in the vehicle, and secured in a safe location so as not to become a projectile.
The most suitable location to keep a first aid kit, is, however, will always depend on the unique environment of the workplace.