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Features - Posted March 25, 2010 4:04 p.m.

Make a First Aid Kit

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Be Prepared. Those two words have guided millions of Boy Scouts for the last 100 years and they apply to everyone as we prepare for spring and summer outdoor activities. Before heading out, be sure that your car and home have well stocked first aid kits. These kits come in various shapes and sizes and can be stocked with basic medical essentials such as Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment and pain relievers. Commercial kits are available at most retail stores and pharmacies, but often homemade first aid kits can save money and be customized for your family.

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, a personal first aid kit should contain:

Use these for blurbs around kist:
six adhesive bandages
two 3-by-3-inch gauze pads
small roll of adhesive tape
3-by-6-inch piece of moleskin
small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel
small tube of triple antibiotic ointment
tube of sting relief gel
disposable non-latex gloves
CPR breathing barrier
pencil and paper (not shown)

All of these items can be packed in a resealable plastic bag which can easily fit in a jacket pocket or day pack.

A larger, family-sized first aid kit would combine the items listed in the personal kit with:
one and two inch roller bandages
an elastic bandage
several instant cold compresses
a space blanket

A family kit would also include any medications needed by family members and may include over-the-counter pain relief or allergy relief tablets.

All first aid kits should be inspected regularly and out-of-date medications should be discarded immediately.

Small cuts and scratches should immediately be washed with soap and water then treated with antibiotic ointment and covered with a band-aid. If water is not available, then alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel can be used. Cuts that become infected, are longer than two inches, or deep should be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible. Also, make sure that you and your family's tetanus shots are up to date. If you have not had one in the last ten years, it time for a booster.

Bug bites are a common side effect of being outdoors. The best bet is to prevent the bite before it happens. Numerous bug repellant gels, sprays and wipes can be found locally. Depending on the concentration of bug repelling chemicals and the outdoor activity, bug spray needs to be re-applied every three to eight hours. Use caution when using bug repellant on young children and be sure to wash your hands after applying. When you do get bit, commercially available sting relief gel does a good job of providing itch relief without the side effects of over-the-counter allergy medications. As with cuts, bug bites should be washed before using the sting relief gel.

Remember, the best first aid kit comes from education. Take a first aid and CPR class through the Red Cross or the American Heart Association and encourage your family members and co-workers to join you.

by Reeves Easley-McPherson

Reeves is the Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 86 in Amarillo. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 86 in 1981 and is a Life Member of the National Eagle Scout Association. Reeves is employed by the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission as the Regional Emergency Communications Specialist.
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