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First aid kit

Accidents commonly happen at home. It therefore makes sense to keep a first aid kit handy at home for dealing with minor injuries, or for keeping a serious injury stable while seeking medical help.

This information was published by Bupa's health information team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been peer reviewed by Bupa doctors. The content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.  

The following list can be used as a shopping list. The quantity of each item is a guide only, and can be increased or decreased depending on the number of people in your home.

Essential items

  • individually wrapped plasters in various sized (fabric or waterproof) x 12 - 24
  • sterile dressings, eg Melolin (for covering a wound): 3 medium (5cm x 5cm) and 1 large (10cm x 10cm)
  • adhesive microtape eg Micropore (to hold dressings in place; this can also be used alone on small cuts and grazes)
  • triangular bandage (for use as a sling for supporting an injured arm or shoulder)
  • crepe bandage (to support sprains and strains; or to hold dressings in place)
  • sterile absorbent gauze (for cleaning and drying wounds; also for covering wounds)
  • safety pins in a variety of sizes (for securing bandages)
  • round-ended scissors (for cutting tape or bandages)
  • tweezers (for removing objects, such as splinters)

Optional extras

  • sterile eye pad (a large wound dressing can be used instead to cover an injured eye)
  • skin closure strips (for holding the edges of a wound together)
  • sterile saline sachets (for cleaning a wound), but clean water will do
  • thermometer

Medicines that can be useful for keeping at home in case of minor accidents include hydrocortisone cream (for insect bites but not for broken or infected skin), paracetamol (tablets for adults, liquid for children - for pain relief) and antihistamine tablets (for allergic reactions). These should be kept in a separate locked medicines cabinet. For further advice, ask your pharmacist.

A waterproof container that is large enough for the contents to be arranged neatly so that items can be found quickly when needed. A plastic container with a closely fitting lid would be suitable. It is a good idea to label the box (e.g. with a green cross) so that it can be easily recognised.

Ready-made kits

There are many ready-made kits available that can be bought from a pharmacy or drugstore. There is no standard for first aid kits and the content of different kits varies. You should check the content carefully. Some may not include all the items you need, while others contain more than you are likely to need or even some unnecessary items (such as cotton wool or alcoholic wipes, which are unsuitable for cleaning wounds). Making a kit up yourself might cost more than some ready-made kits, but you're more likely to end up with a kit containing just the things you need.

It makes sense to keep your first aid kit close to where it is most likely to be needed. It should be out of the reach of children, but still readily accessible when needed. The place should be dry and cool, so the bathroom is probably not ideal.

Just as important as keeping a first aid kit, is knowing how to use whats in it. All adults and older children and teenagers living in the house should know where the kit is kept, what is in it and how to use it. Its a good idea to keep a first aid manual with the kit.

Used items should be replaced immediately and expiry dates checked from time to time, so that out-of-date items are discarded and replaced.

It is a good idea to get proper training in first aid. This is provided by organisations like St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross. Contact them for details of local training courses.

Hong Kong St John Ambulance
(24 hour free ambulance service)
Tel : (852) 2530 8032
Fax : (852) 2530 2727
Homepage :

Hong Kong Red Cross
33 Harcourt Road, Wanchai, HK
Tel : (852) 2802 0021
Fax : (852) 2802 7359
E-mail :
Website :

Fire Services Department (CPR training)
Tel : (852) 2640 3708

This leaflet is for information only. For a detailed opinion or personal advice, please consult with your own doctor

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