When an accident strikes at home, you may need to stop major bleeding, deal with a serious burn, treat a snake or spider bite, give first aid to someone with a fractured limb, or deal with a foreign body in a wound or eye. But even if you have a first aid kit on hand, is there any guarantee it’ll contain all the items needed to deal with the emergency at hand — or adequate instructions?
The answer is not necessarily.
Buying a first aid kit can be a very confusing exercise. Not only is there a huge range available, but there’s an astounding number of kits in each range. There are kits for home (small, medium, large, leisure, family, all-purpose) and for the workplace (office, retail, industrial); for travel (car, motor trauma, off-road, boat, outdoor, pocket) and for special purposes (diving and hiking, to name a few). They come in large, sturdy toolboxes or small, clear-plastic containers for easy access, and in compact soft packs that stow away neatly in a daypack or wrap around your waist on walks. General-purpose kits for use at home range in cost from less than $20 to over $100.
To help you through the jungle of kits on the market, we took a closer look at 22 widely available ones that sell for $120 or less — generally a brand’s cheapest in the domestic or general purpose range.
- There’s an Australian standard that specifies what a general-purpose kit should contain, but it’s only voluntary. Only one of the 22 kits tested contains all the essential items, but not even that one complies with all the standard’s specifications.
- Nine of the 22 kits tested provide insufficient equipment to cope with five common household emergencies: major bleeding, serious burn, fracture, foreign body in a wound or eye, and insect or snake bite.
- With a few exceptions, we found that the more essential items included in a first aid kit and the better their quality, the higher its price. You're basically getting what you pay for. So it comes as no surprise that the What to buy list includes products that scored at least 70% overall includes two of the more expensive kits in the test.
If you just want to see what items you should have in your kit, see our free buying guide for first aid kits.
- Amada First Aid Kit 9/S
- Ambulance Victoria Home Kit #
- Australian Red Cross Household Kit 12730
- Australian Red Cross Personal Kit 12700
- Brenniston Home Essentials First Aid Kit
- Brenniston Motor Vehicle First Aid Kit Q150W
- Equip Family First Aid Kit
- Equip Rec 3
- First Aid International Basic Domestic Kit
- First Aid International Domestic Kit
- First Aid Kits Australia Home and Away KP295GP
- First Aid Kits Australia Medium Risk Home Portable K410GP
- Protector First-Aid Kit
- Quell Home and Family First Aid Kit 128381
- Quell Home and Office First Aid Kit 128378
- Royal Life Saving Everyday First Aid Kit TS445
- Royal Life Saving First Aid Kit Bumbag TS450
- St John All Purpose Small Leisure Kit 640001
- St John Small Emergency 619501
- Trafalgar Handyman First Aid Kit T94225 #
- Trafalgar Home Kit T94020 #
- Tyco Healthcare TFK1
# Discontinued or being phased out. Price and availability checked August 2008.