First aid kits buying guide

What items do you need in a general purpose first aid kit?
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  • Updated:12 Sep 2007

01.First aid kits

Please note: this information was current as of September 2007 but is still a useful guide today.

With these contents (based on the Australian standard AS 2675-1983, Kit B) in your ‘general purpose’ first aid kit, you should be equipped for a range of emergency situations.

Essential items

  • At least nine sterile, cotton-gauze swabs, for cleaning wounds and placing over non-adherent burn dressings.
  • At least three disposable hand towels or tissues, for general cleaning, other than wounds.
  • 24 sterile, adhesive dressing strips in assorted widths, to cover small cuts, blisters and abrasions.
  • One roll of low-allergenic adhesive strapping, at least 25mm wide x 2.5m long, to hold dressings in place.
  • Two sterile, individually packed, non-adhesive dry dressings, 100 x 100mm, to use for burns, abrasions, cuts, lacerations and weeping wounds.
  • Three sterile wound dressings of different sizes, to protect wounds, use as an eyepad, or help control bleeding by applying pressure.
  • Three rolls of stretch bandage, 50, 75 and 100mm wide and at least 1.5m long (and stretchable to twice that length), to hold dressings in place, support injured limbs or give first aid for poisonous bites.
  • Two triangular calico bandages with at least 900 mm edge length each, to use as slings or dressings, or as bandages to hold large dressings or splints in place.
  • At least five safety pins about 40mm long, to hold bandages in place.
  • One pair of rust-resistant scissors about 100mm long, with at least one blunt point, to cut dressings and bandages, or to cut away clothing.
  • One pair of rust-resistant, pointed forceps, with accurately aligned tips and in a protective case, for removing splinters and stings.
  • One pencil and notepad, to record times and details or for passing messages.
  • At least three sealable plastic bags, about 150 x 200mm, for carrying water, making ice packs, disposing of dirty dressings or carrying severed body parts.
  • Disposable latex gloves and an approved resuscitation mask, for infection control.
  • First aid information — books are available from St John Ambulance Australia, the Australian Red Cross and other expert ambulance services.

Optional items

  • At least six individually wrapped isopropyl alcohol swabs, for cleaning areas around wounds.
  • One sterile, thick and absorbent ‘combine’ dressing, 90 x 200mm, to cover wounds.
  • One plastic squeeze-bottle of saline solution, about 100mL, clearly labelled with usage instructions and expiry date, to clean eyes, wounds and burns.
  • One aluminium foil blanket, to keep a casualty warm.
  • Sting relief treatment, 10mL minimum, clearly labelled with its purpose and expiry date, to relieve discomfort from stings or bites.
  • Hydrogel burn treatment, to treat burns if no cool water is available.


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